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Notable Native Americans on the Frontier


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"The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just

 as the buffalo belonged...."


 - Luther Standing Bear, Oglala



Ogalala Sioux at an oasis in the Badlands of South Dakota

Ogalala Sioux at an oasis in the Badlands, photo by Edward S. Curtis, 1905. This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!






The history of the American West is obviously never complete without the tales of the many Americans who first lived on these vast lands.


Here, you'll find summaries of many of the chiefs, heroes, warriors, and medicine men that history records as significant in the westward expansion of the United States.


Though there were literally thousands of men and woman that could be mentioned, this ever growing list of individuals, begins with those most famous.



Notable Native Americans in History:


  • Edward "Ned" Wilkerson Bushyhead (1832-1907) - Part Cherokee, Edward was a miner, publisher, and served as the San Diego County, California sheriff for two terms before becoming the Police Chief of San Diego.

  • Captain Jack - See Kintpuash

  • Cochise (18??-1874) - Apache Chief and one of the last holdouts in resisting white settlement.

  • Chief Levi Colbert - (1759-1834) - Also known as Itawamba in Chickasaw, Colbert was a leader and chief of the Chickasaw in Alabama and Mississippi. He and his brother, George Colbert, were prominent interpreters and negotiators with Andrew Jackson's appointed negotiators related to Indian Removal.

  • Crazy Horse (1842-1877) - A brave and skilled warrior, continually resisted white encroachment into the Black Hills.

  • Crow Dog (1833-1910) - One of the leaders who popularized the Ghost Dance among the Lakota.

  • Natawista Culbertson (1825?-1895) - The daughter of Two Suns, the chief of the Blood (Kainah) tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy worked tirelessly with her husband, Alexander Culbertson, a Mountain Man, for nearly thirty years to bridge the gap between the white adventurers and the native inhabitants of that region.

Prisoners from Black Kettles camp, captured by General Custer,

Prisoners from Black Kettle's camp, captured by General George Armstrong Custer, by Theodore R.Davis, 1868.

Photo prints and downloads available HERE.


Geronimo, 1903

Geronimo , 1903, by J.W. Collins

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!


  • Geronimo (1829-1909) - Chiricahua Apache Chief who warred against the encroachment of settlers on his tribal lands  for over 25 years.

  • Glikhikan (17??-1782) - Delaware Warrior who turned to Christianity only to later be murdered by white settlers.

  • Going Snake - Cherokee Chief

  • Captain James Hobbs (1819-1880) - Also known as Comanche Jim, Hobbs was the Great-grandson of renowned Shawnee Indian Chief, Tecumseh. Starting as a fur trader, he would later spend time with the likes of Kit Carson, before becoming a Texas Ranger, and fighting in the Mexican-American and Civil Wars.

  • Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (1841?-1891) - The first Native American woman known to secure a copyright and to publish in the English language. Her book, Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, is an autobiographical account of her people during their first forty years of contact with explorers and settlers.

  • Hollow Horn Bear, aka: Matihehlogego (1850-1913) - Brule Sioux leader during the Indian Wars on the Great Plains.

  • Chief Joseph (1840-1904) - Nez Perce Chief who resisted forced removal of his band to a reservation in Idaho. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.

  • Kintpuash, aka: Captain Jack - (1840?-1873) - A Modoc subchief and warrior, Kientopoos was a leader in the Modoc War of (1872-73). After killing an unarmed General Edward Richard Canby at a peace negotiation meeting he was tracked down, captured and hanged in October, 1873.

  • Chief Little Crow (1815-1863) - Sioux Chief who led the first major armed engagement between the U.S. and Dakota tribe.

  • Little Raven, aka: Hósa, "Young Crow " (18??-1889)  - The first Arapaho chief to sign peace treaties with the U.S. government, he kept the peace for most of his life and helped his tribe move forward to "civilization."

  • Little Wolf (1818-1904) - With Dull Knife, Little Wolf led the Cheyenne from exile in Indian Territory back to their homeland in present-day eastern Montana during the late 1870s.

  • Lone Wolf (1820?-1879) - Known as Gul-Pah-Go to his tribe, Lone Wolf was a primary chief of the Kiowa tribe, who became violent after being forced on to a reservation.

  • George Lowrey - A cousin of Sequoya and second chief of the Eastern Cherokee under John Ross.

  • Lozen, aka, "Dextrous Horse Thief" (1840-1887) - The sister of Apache Chief Victorio, Lozen was a skilled warrior and shaman. Her brother, Victorio is quoted as saying "Lozen is my right hand... strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people."

  • Mangas Coloradas (1793?-1863) - Chiricahua Apache  leader considered by many to be the most important of the 19th century, uniting the Apache nation against the United States.

  • Manuelito (1818-1893) - A principal Navajo war chief, Manuelito was born near Bears' Ears Peak in southeastern Utah about 1818. A member of the To'Tsohnii (Big Water) clan, he later he migrated to Arizona, where he joined Chief Narbona's band and married his daughter.

  • Wampanoag Chief Metacom, also called King PhilipMetacomet (1639?-1676) - Also known as King Philip or Metacom, this war leader of the Wampanoag tribe was the second son of Chief Massasoit and led an alliance against white settlers to push them out of New England in what is known as King Philip's War.

  • Nah-deiz-az, aka: "Carlisle Kid" (1865-1889) - A so-called Apache "outlaw," Nahdeizaz was hanged in Globe, Arizona

  • Naiche (1856?-1919) - Son of Cochise, led the Apache along with Geronimo in resisting white encroachment.

  • Nana (1800-1896) - An Apache War Leader that led a band of warriors in New Mexico when he was already more than 80 years old.

  • Old Crow A Crow Indian, who was allegedly one of the members of the Dull Knife band of Cheyenne, which left the reservation in Indian Territory and made the memorable raid across Kansas in September and October, 1878, killing 32 citizens.

  • Old Man Afraid of His Horse (1808-??) - A noted Ogallala warrior, Old Man Afraid Of His Horse, was also known as Tasunka Coquipah. He witnessed the Treaty of Fort Laramie when Dull Knife signed the document in 1868.

  • Opechancanough (1545?-1644?) - A Powhatan chief, he was the brother of Chief Powhatan and upon his brother's death in 1818 took control of the Powhatan Confederacy.

  • Chief Osceola (1804-1838) - Born as Billy Powell, he became an influential leader of the Seminole in Florida. Of mixed parentage, Creek, Scots-Irish, and English, he was raised as a Creek by his mother, as the tribe had a matrilineal kinship system. They migrated to Florida when he was a child, with other refugees, after their defeat in 1814 in the Creek Wars. He led a band of warriors in the Seminole resistance during the Second Seminole War.

  • Chief Ouray (1833-1880) - Born near Taos, New Mexico, Ouray was the leader of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe and known as a man of peace.

  • Quannah Parker (1845?-1911) - The last Chief of the Quahadi Comanche, Parker was both a major resistor to white settlers, as well as a leader in the tribe’s adjustment to reservation life.

  • King Philip - See Metacomet.

  • Pocahontas (1595?- 1617) - A Powhatan Indian Princess, she was for having assisted colonial settlers at Jamestown and allegedly saving the life of the colony's leader, Captain John Smith.

  • Chief Pontiac (1720?-1769) - Called Obwandiyag by his people, Pontiac was a great leader of the Ottawa tribe and became famous for organizing Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–1766). See full article HERE.

  • Chief Powhatan (1545-1618) - Known as Wahunsunacawh to the Powhatan tribe, he founded the Powhatan Confederacy in Virginia at the period of the first English settlement.

  • Chief Pohibit Quasha, aka: Iron Shirt (18??-1858) - Led a fearless bands of skilled Comanche warriors in Texas and Oklahoma in the 1850s.

  • Rain-in-the-Face, aka: Ito-na-gaju, Exa-ma-gozua (1835?-1905) - On June 25-27, 1876, Lieutenant-Colonel George Custer, with thirteen commissioned officers, a surgeon, and 255 men were slaughtered in the Black Hills. Sitting Bull has received the notoriety and credit for this fight; but it was his cousin, Rain-in-the-Face, who planned and executed the battle. He, himself received a wound in the fight, which resulted in his having to use crutches for the rest of his life.

  • Chief Red Cloud (1822-1909) One of the most capable chiefs who resisted white settlement, he led the successful resistance known as Red Cloud's War in 1866-1868.

  • Red Shirt (1845-1925) - An Oglala Sioux warrior who served in the capacity of chief at two Sioux, a position he was appointed to in 1866 by the War Department. He was a son of Victor Renville and a nephew of the celebrated Joseph Renville. He was born at Sweet Corn's Village, Big Stone Lake, South Dakota in April, 1824. He was a valued friend of the whites during the Sioux War of 1862-65. He died at the Sisseton Agency on August 26, 1902.

  • Toby Riddle - See Kaitchkona Winema

  • Roman Nose - (1835?-1868) - Cheyenne warrior and leader of the Plains Indian Wars of the 1860s.

  • Chief John Ross (1790-1866) - John Ross was the first and only elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation from the time it was formed until his death in 1866.

  • Sacagawea (1790?-1812?) ­ A Shoshone Indian woman who married French Canadian trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau, and became an integral part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

  • Satanta (1820-1878) - Known to his people as Set-Tainte, meaning "White Bear Person," Satanta was a great Kiowa warrior who would later become the principal chief in the Kiowa Wars of the 1860s-1870s and was known as "The Orator of the Plains."

  • Schonchin, aka: Old Schonchin, Skonches (1797-1892) - The recognized head chief of the Modoc Indians at the time of the Modoc War of 1872-73.

  • Chief Seattle, aka: Sealth, Seathle, Seathl, or See-ahth (1780?-1866) - Leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes in present-day Washington. He was known as a great leader, orator, warrior and negotiator.

  • Sequoya, aka George Guess (1767?-1843) - Inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, silversmith, and politician.

  • Setangya, aka: Satank, Sitting Bear (1810?-1871) - A noted Kiowa chief, medicine man, and leader of the principal war society of the tribe.

  • Sitting Bull (1831-1890) - Lakota chief and holy man, most notable for his premonition of defeating the army at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

  • Spotted Elk - See Big Foot, aka: Sithanka

  • Spotted Tail (18??-1881) - A contemporary of Crazy Horse, he fought white encroachment into the Black Hills.

  • Chief Tecumseh (1768 - 1813) - Shawnee Chief Tecumseh

  • Tall Bull (1815?-1869) - A Southern Cheyenne Chief, Tall Bull was also the leader of the fierce Dog Soldiers during the 1850s and 1860s in the Plains states. he was killed at the Battle of Summit Springs.

  • Chief Victorio (1825-1880) - Known as Bidu-ya or Beduiat to his Apache people, Victorio was a warrior and chief of the Chihenne band of the Chiricahua Apache in what is now New Mexico. Becoming hate filled due to being forced onto an Arizona reservation and the subsequent ill treatment of his people, Victorio escaped the reservation and went on a rampage in 1879-1880. On October 14, 1880, he and his band were surrounded and killed by Mexican soldiers.

  • Chief  Walkara, aka: Walker (1808?-1855) - The leader of the Ute Timpanogo band, Walkara had a reputation as a diplomat, horseman and warrior, and was the primary  leader in the Walker War.

  • Fred Waite (1853-1895) - A Chickasaw Indian from Oklahoma, Waite joined up with Billy the Kid's Regulators during the Lincoln County War in New Mexico. Afterwards, he returned to Oklahoma where he lived an upstanding life and became a politician. He died on September 24, 1895 of unknown causes, just four days shy of becoming the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

  • Stand Watie (1806-1871) - Also known as Standhope Oowatie, Degataga "Stand Firm" and Isaac S. Watie, he was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War.

  • Kaitchkona Winema, aka: Toby Riddle, Woman Chief (1848-1932) - A Modoc Indian Woman who played an important part in the Modoc War of 1872-1873.

  • Chief Tecumseh (1768-1813) - Tecumseh's given name meant Celestial Panther Lying in Wait. Born in 1768 at the Shawnee village of Piqua on the Mad River, about southwest of the present day city of Springfield, Ohio, Tecumseh he grew up to be highly skilled warrior, orator, and statesman who advocated "civilized’ resistance."  

  • Wovoka, aka: The Cutter, Jack Wilson (1856?-1932) - A Paiute medicine-man, Wovoka originated the Ghost Dance which spread throughout the Native American tribes of the west, causing white settlers and officials a great deal of consternation.



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