Famous Native American Leaders

Before the European population began to colonize the United States, there was an extensive civilization already present on the land. The Native American community has become relegated to reservations today for their own lands, but even they are subject to some Federal legislation. Over the years, several leaders stood up to the perceived tyranny of the US government and called out illegal decisions so that they entered the public consciousness. Here are some of the names that you may not know that are still famous Native American leaders.

1. Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis was a member of the Kaw nation. He also served as the Vice President of the United States before becoming a Senator for the state of Kansas. Curtis was the first person with non-European ancestry to reach one of the two highest offices in government and he often took pictures with native headdress while in office. After politics, he worked in law in the DC area.

2. Kintpuash

Known more popularly as “Captain Jack,” Kintpuash and his people lived along the border of Oregon and California. Settlers want to use the land for farming, so his tribe was moved north to the Klamath Reservation, which were their traditional rivals. Because the Klamath tribe outnumbered them, Kintpuash and his people were treated very poorly. Captain Jack decided to lead his people back home. The Army rounded them up in 1869 and forced them back to the reservation, but he would not be defeated. 180 tribesmen went back again the next year. After a sabotage attempt and a brief war, he was caught and executed.

3. Si’ahl

Most people call Si’ahl “Chief Seattle” and he was a prominent figure amongst his people. He wanted to accommodate white settlers as much as possible and worked hard to establish personal relationships with the European colonists. He still found for land rights, however, and was a big proponent of ecological responsibility. All of this brought a lot of respect to him and his tribe, so much that the city of Seattle was named after him.

4. Red Jacket

Perhaps the greatest orator that this community ever produced, Red Jacket negotiated with the new United States after the Revolutionary War. They needed his skills because his Wolf clan had sided with the British and were forced to cede a number of their lands. Most of his people ended up migrating to Canada, however, but his rhetoric still lives on. His speech regarding religion before Congress in 1805 is widely regarding religion.

5. Black Hoof

As the chief of the Shawnee tribe, not much is known about Black Hoof until 1795. He claimed to be part of the French and Indian War, but there was no evidence of this taking place. He surrendered as the Indian confederation collapsed around him in 1795. He led his people to work on cultural adaptation to prevent decimation and although he surrendered in war, he was one of the few chiefs who never signed a removal treaty.

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