There is a rich history within the Native Americans around the world, though there are many that remain ignorant to it. It is not a question of whether or not they are against learning about Native American peoples, simply that they are not sure of how or where to start.
There are so many different peoples and cultures out there throughout the Americas that it is hard to know where to start. Here is this list of ten of the most famous Native Americans out there today, with their individual histories and stories.
They each lived over a different time, and their unique stories make them into what we would call “folk heroes” today. Here are their histories.
#1 Red Cloud 1822-1909
The Red Cloud, from the tribe Oglala Lakota (Sioux), lived from 1822-1909. He was one of the most capable warriors from the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribesmen. He faced the US military during the Red Cloud’s War. The battle was fought for the rights of Powder Country in Northern Wyoming.
Throughout this war, Red Cloud (the battle was named after this fierce warrior) battled hard against the militants and gained his significance that way.
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#2 Cochise 1815-1874
Cochise, a leader of the Apache who lived from 1815-1874. Though pronounced K-you Ch-Ish, this Apache leader is second only to Geronimo when it comes to that tribe’s historical significance.
He was known for helping in the uprising against the Mexicans and the Americans in the 19th century.
He was additionally known for this traditional “Indian” looks, with a large frame and prominent muscles, that was complemented by a traditional ponytail that showed his culture. He gained his place on the list of famous Native Americans by battling the settlers that fought to intrude on his land, as mentioned.
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#3 Squanto 1581-1622
The sad history of Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Tasquantum (Squanto) tribe shows how the settlers changed the lives of so many Native Americans. He lived from 1581-1622 and is known for many things, like helping the pilgrims get through their first winter in the Americas.
He and his comrades were kidnapped and taken back to England, where he learned English and survived the civilized world until he chose to return to his homeland. He there found out that his entire tribe had been killed off by the plague years before. His strength and adaptability have made him one of the most influential famous Native Americans.
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#4 Sacajawea 1788-1812
Following is Sacajawea, who was born into the Shoshone tribe as Agaidika, or “Salmon Eater” in 1788. Sacajawea later became so famous that her face would be listed on the dollar coin as a symbol of her bravery and power. She earned her spot as one of the famous Native Americans by taking part in the discovery of the Western US with Meriwether Lewis and Willian
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#5 ClarkPontiac 1720-1769
Pontiac was a chief who is known mostly for defending the Great Lakes against the US and British invasion and occupation. He was known in his Ottawa tongue as Obwandiyag.
He and his followers gained a following of 900 followers and participated in The Battle of Bloody Run to take Fort Detroit. Pontiac, historically a prominent figure, many are still unsure as to his real importance and to whether or not he was a mere follower rather than a leader.
In 1769, he was assassinated in Illinois by a Peoria Indian.
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#6 Geronimo 1829-1909
Known for his role as the leader of the Chiricahua Apache,
Geronimo lived from 1829-1909. He is remembered as one of the famous Native Americans for defending his people on the US invasions and occupations of his land for over 25 years.
Geronimo always said that he was never a chief, but was rather a military leader and as a Chiricahua Apache, he was also a spiritual leader. He consistently urged raids and war upon many Mexican and later U.S. groups. Geronimo eventually went on to marry 6 wives, an Apache tradition.
He was known for creating the last Native American stand against the colonization and was eventually placed on a reservation where he continued to fight for Native rights.
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#7 Tecumseh 1768-1813
Tecumseh lived from 1768-1813 and was a Shawnee leader and gained his fame for being one of the Native Americans to hold onto the land that had been theirs. His name means, “Panther in the Sky”
He gained quite a following during his lifetime and helped establish Prophetstown in Indiana. He died during the War of 1812, fighting for his rights.
#8 Sitting Bull 1831-1890
Living from 1831-1890, Sitting Bull was a member of the Hunkpapa Lakota and was known as medicine and Holy man. Known for his healing powers and predicting the the victory in the battle of Little Bighorn, he is one of the most famous Native Americans today.
#9 Sarah Winnemucca 1844-1891
Sarah Winnemucca lived from 1844-1891 and was known as a journalist as well as an interpreter amongst other roles. She was the descendant of two chiefs and used her power well to fight for the Native American rights.
She wrote the book Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, which spoke about the despicable treatment of Native Americans and their communities as their rights were taken away.
This proud and noble woman is arguably one of the most influential Native American women (right up there with Sacajawea) for fighting what she believed in and giving women a presence within the Native American war for rights and freedom.
#10 Neolin 1761–1763
Neolin lived from 1761–1763 and was a member of the Lenni-Lanape tribe. He was also known as the “Delaware Prophet” and gained his place as one of the famous Native Americans by creating a movement in the 18th century that rejected European lifestyle, but turning away their goods.
He was influential for many that followed him and his fight to return to the traditional way of life spurred many, including Chief Pontiac (discussed earlier) to fight for those traditions and keep them alive in the years that followed. His strength and bravery showed, as did his passion and respect for his personal history in the wars that he fought.
As you can see, all of the people listed above show incredible bravery in the face of colonization in their separate tribes and lifestyles. They each fought for what they believed in and never stopped believing in their history, even when the Europeans and Americans gave them no other choice for lifestyle but that of the intruders who took their land and killed their people.
They fought for their lives and history in such a way that today, 100s of years after many of them lived, we still remember and talk about their names and histories with awe and respect for what they brave men and women fought for.
With grace and dignity, these famous Native Americans fought for their lives and rights and accomplished great things within their individual lives.