NOVEMBER is NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
is Native American Heritage Month. Here are some of the famous leaders
whose names still ring through the places, people, and things in
Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak) was born in 1767 in what is now the
midwestern part of the US. His village of Sukenuk was on the Rock River
which is present-day Rock Island, Illinois. He became a band leader and
fierce warrior of the Sauk Native American tribe.
was not a hereditary chief but did inherit an important historic sacred
bundle from his medicine man father. He had to earn his status as a war
leader and warrior by his actions--leading large numbers of raiding and
war parties over many years.
was very critical of what he considered to be unfair treaties enacted
by the US and he sided with the British in the War of 1812 in hopes of
pushing white American settlers away from Sauk territory. Later he led a
band of Sauk and Fox warriors, known as the British Band, against white
settlers in Illinois and present-day Wisconsin during the 1832 Black
he was captured by US forces and taken to the Eastern US, where he and
other war leaders were taken on a tour of several cities as ordered by
President Andrew Jackson. The men were taken by steamboat, carriage, and
railroad, and met with large crowds wherever they went. Jackson wanted
them to be impressed with the power of the United States.
before being released from custody, Black Hawk told his story to an
interpreter. Aided also by a newspaper reporter, he published the Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation in
1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The book was one of the first Native American
autobiographies to be published in the US. It became an immediate
bestseller and has gone through several editions.
is some concern that the final revision of the book may have been
edited with potential readers in mind rather than as an accurate record
of events relayed by Black Hawk to the interpreter and the newspaper
Black Hawk died in 1838 in what is now southeastern Iowa.
an Apache Chief also known as Shikashe or Adatlichi in Apache, was born
in 1805 in the area that is now the northern region of Sonora, Mexico,
New Mexico, and Arizona. The Apache people had settled in that region
sometime before the arrival of the European explorers and colonists.
name meant 'having the quality or strength of an oak.' He became a key
war leader during the Apache Wars as principal chief of the Chokonen
band of the Chiricahua Apache. He led uprisings against the US
government that began in 1861 and persisted until a peace treaty between
Cochise and the US government was enacted in 1872.
the uprisings, the US government found it very difficult to pursue
Cochise and capture him. He knew the land well and his people were very
effective warriors. However, eventually, the constant running and
fighting started to take their toll on the Chiricahua Apache.
US was also losing too many soldiers and looked for another possible
solution to the Cochise problem. Their strategy shifted to relocating
him and his people to a reservation. He was repeatedly asked to meet and
discuss this but he would always refuse because of the confinement,
poor conditions, and poor treatment of natives on reservations.
in 1872, Cochise was approached by General Howard and Tom Jeffords, an
Army scout. The ensuing negotiations gave Cochise a reservation for his
people that spanned much of modern day Cochise County in southeast
Arizona. This was something Cochise could live with and he did indeed
live on the reservation for 2 years until his death in 1874.
reservation lasted just 4 years until 1876 when the US moved the
Chiricahua and some other Apache bands to the San Carlos Apache Indian
Reservation. This was in response to public outcry after some white
settlers were killed. Unfortunately, the Indians hated the desert
environment of San Carlos and often left the reservation, sometimes
raiding neighboring settlers. Unrest between the Indians and the
settlers extended the Apache Wars, which continued for many years after
Horse or Tasunke Witco, was born a member of the Oglala Lakota around
1840 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. His father was a shaman (also
named Crazy Horse) and his mother, a member of the Brule Sioux.
soon as he was old enough, Crazy Horse set out on the Vision Quest or
Hanbleceya (crying for a vision or to pray for a spiritual experience),
one of the important rites of passage to a Lakota warrior. He went alone
into the hills. There he fasted for days and cried to the spirits for a
that time, he had a vision of an unadorned horseman who directed him to
present himself in the same way, with no more than one feather and
never a war bonnet. He was also told to toss dust over his horse before
entering battle and to place a stone behind his ear and directed to
never take anything for himself. He followed the instructions in that
dream for his entire life.
the time he was in his mid-teens, Crazy Horse was a full-fledged
warrior and exhibited bravery and prowess in battle. In 1876, he led a
band of Lakota warriors against Custer's Seventh US Cavalry battalion.
This was the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last
Stand. Custer and all his battalion died and only 32 Indians were
killed. Crazy Horse was also joined by Sitting Bull and his warriors at
Horse had become an adult during a time when cultures clashed, land
became an issue of deadly contention, and traditional Native ways were
threatened and oppressed. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the
United States Government sent scouts to round up any Northern Plains
tribes who resisted. Many Indian Nations were forced to move across the
country, always followed by soldiers, until starvation or exposure would
force them to surrender.
1877, under a flag of truce, Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson
in Nebraska and attempted to negotiate with the US Government.
Unfortunately, there was a breakdown in negotiations because the
translator incorrectly translated what Crazy Horse said and he was
escorted toward the jail. When he realized the officers were planning on
imprisoning him, he struggled and drew his knife. An infantry guard was
able to mortally wound crazy Horse and he died shortly afterward.
is a well-known fact that Crazy Horse refused to have his picture or
likeness taken. Crazy Horse lived under the assumption that by taking a
picture a part of his soul would be taken and his life would be
shortened. Likenesses of Crazy Horse had to be developed by descriptions
from survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn and other
contemporaries of Crazy Horse the man.
or Goyathlay was born in 1829 in No-Doyohn Canyon, Mexico and became a
prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Apache
tribe. He defended his people against the encroachment of the US on
their tribal lands for over 25 years.
1850 to 1886, he joined with members of 3 other Chiricahua Apache bands
to carry out numerous raids. Geronimo's raids and related combat
actions were a part of the prolonged period of the Apache-United States
conflict, which started with American settlement in Apache lands
following the end of the war with Mexico in 1848.
Geronimo was well known and a superb leader in raiding and warfare, he
was not a chief of the Chiricahua. However, at any one time, he would be
in command of about 30 to 50 Apaches.
to 1886 was the final period of conflict for Geronimo. During that time, he had surrendered 3 times and accepted life on the Apache reservations
in Arizona. But like other Apaches, reservation life was confining to
the free-moving Apache people and they resented restriction on their
customary way of life.
1886, following Geronimo's third reservation breakout, he surrendered
for the last time and the US government treated him as a prisoner of
While holding him as a prisoner, the US displayed him at various events capitalizing on his fame among non-Indians.
displays provided him with an opportunity to make some money. He sold
pictures of himself, bows, arrows, buttons off his shirt, and even his
hat. In 1898, Geronimo was exhibited at the Trans-Mississippi and
International exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska. These exhibitions were so
successful, he became a frequent visitor to fairs, exhibitions. and
other public functions.
1905, the Indian Office provided Geronimo for the inaugural parade for
President Theodore Roosevelt. Later that year, the Indian Office took
him to Texas, where he shot a buffalo in a staged roundup. He was
escorted to the event by soldiers since he was still a prisoner.
Apparently, those who witnessed the buffalo hunt were unaware that
Geronimo's people were not buffalo hunters!
Geronimo died in 1909, as a prisoner of war.
For information on other famous Native Americans including Pontiac, please continue reading here.