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Native American Heritage

An overview of Native American Culture and History

Famous Native Americans


Lakota chief Red Cloud was an important figure in the 19th-century land battle between Native Americans and the U.S. government. He successfully resisted developments of the Bozeman trail through Montana territory and led the opposition against the development of a road through Wyoming and Montana for two years—a period that came to be known as Red Cloud's War. 

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Squanto was born circa 1580 near Plymouth, Massachusetts. Little is known about his early life. In 1614, he was kidnapped by English explorer Thomas Hunt, who brought him to Spain where he was sold into slavery. Squanto escaped, eventually returning to North America in 1619. He then returned to the Patuxet region, where he became an interpreter and guide for the Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth in the 1620s. He died circa November 1622 in Chatham, Massachusetts.

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Geronimo was an Apache leader who continued the tradition of the Apaches resisting white colonization of their homeland in the Southwest, participating in raids into Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico. After years of war, Geronimo finally surrendered to U.S. troops in 1886. While he became a celebrity, he spent the last two decades of his life as a prisoner of war.

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Indiana Native Americans


                                                                           Chief Koh-Koh-Mah

                                          Chief Kokomo - Find A Grave Memorial


Chief Kokomo, whose name is also sometimes given as Koh-Koh-Mah, Co-come-wah, Ma-Ko-Ko-Mo, or Kokomoko, was a Native American man of the Miami tribe who lived in northern Indiana at some point probably in the early nineteenth century.

According to a legend recorded in a history of Howard and Tipton Counties from 1883, Chief Ma-Ko-Ko-Mo had three brothers, who were also Miami chiefs. The names of his three brothers were Shock-O-Mo (which means "poplar tree"), Me-Shin-Go-Me-Sia (which means "burr oak"), and Shap-Pan-Do-Si-A (which means "sugar tree"). It is unknown what exact measure of authority each of the four brothers may have actually possessed. Chief Ma-Ko-Ko-Mo owned a log cabin in the Center Township of Howard County, which was later taken possession of by David Foster in fall of 1842. David Foster built a trading post at the location. During the time following the establishment of his trading post, David Foster had many dealings with the native peoples residing in the area.


Miami Tribe


                                                       Portrait of Mi-A-Qu-A, a Miami Chief.

                                                                         Miami Tribe.jpg



The Miami natives originally lived in Indiana, Illinois, and southern Michigan at the time of European colonization of North America. They moved into the Maumee Valley around 1700. They soon became the most powerful American Indian tribe in Ohio. The Miamis spoke an Algonquian dialect, and were thus related to the Delaware (Lenape), the Ottawa, and the Shawnee.

The Miami were allies of the French until British traders moved into the Ohio Country, around 1740. The French forced the British out of Ohio, and the Miamis allied themselves with the French again until the British victory in the French and Indian War. As French trading posts turned into British forts, many Miami natives moved to present-day Indiana to avoid further battles with the more powerful British. During the American Revolution, the Miami, who were especially fearful of additional white settlers moving into the Ohio Country, fought with the British against the United States. After the defeat of the British, the Miami natives continued to fight the newly-formed United States.

Little Turtle was a great leader of the Miamis, with affiliations to the Eel River tribe. He helped to lead a force of Miami and other American Indians to victory over two United States armies. They defeated the army of General Josiah Harmar in 1790 (Harmar's Defeat) and the army of General Arthur St. Clair in 1791 (St. Clair's Defeat).

General Anthony Wayne defeated the Miamis and other American Indians with Ohio lands at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The Miamis, along with other American Indians living in Ohio, were forced to surrender most of their Ohio lands with the signing of the Treaty of Greenville. In 1818, the United States forced the Miami to give up their last reservation in Ohio. Many of the displaced Ohio Miami settled in Indiana, but, once more, the U.S. federal government removed some of them to Kansas during the 1850s, while others were permitted to remain in Indiana.

Descendents of the Ohio Miami are members of the federally-recognized Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, and of the unrecognized Miami Nation of Indiana.

Frances (Maconaquah) "Weletasash" Slocum 

Born about  in Warwick, Kent, Rhode Island

Daughter of  and 

Sister of  and 

Wife of  — married [date unknown] [location unknown]

                 Frances Slocum

                                                           Frances Slocum (abt.1773-abt.1847) | WikiTree FREE Family Tree  

The Slocum family survived a brutal attack by British forces in 1778. However, on November 2, while Jonathan was away, three Delaware warriors attacked the Slocum family farm near Wilkes-Barre. Ruth and all but two of her children escaped into the nearby woods, but the Delaware captured five-year-old Frances. Slocum never saw her parents again. Native American warriors killed her father and grandfather on December 16, 1778. The Delaware gave Slocum to a childless Delaware chief and his wife. They named her Weletasash, after their youngest daughter who had died, and raised her as their own. She later recalled that they migrated west before settling near Kekionga (present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana). Slocum was briefly married to a Delaware sometime around 1791 or 1792.The tradition among the Miami is that he did not treat her well, and due to domestic violence, she returned to her Delaware parents. Her first husband is said to have migrated west with the Delaware tribe. Her second marriage, after 1794, was to She-pan-can-ah, known as Deaf Man to the white men. She-pan-can-ah was a Miami warrior who later became a Miami chief. When Frances joined the Miami she took the name Maconaquah (Little Bear). Sometime after the War of 1812 the Miami tribe, moved to the Mississinewa River valley in north central Indiana. Since her capture, Slocum's white relatives continued to search for her without success. They did not see her for almost sixty years.




                                                                          Chief Meshingomesia |Meshingomesia Golf & Social Club Marion Indiana |  Grant County Indiana | Shadows of Our Tow… | Historical photos, Local  history, Marion indiana



                                               Miami Indians of Indiana | In Remembrance of Our Ancestors | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The Miami Indian Cemetery is the largest Indian Cemetery in Indiana. The cemetery was established in the mid-1800s on the Miami Indian reservation in Grant County, Indiana. The cemetery is the burial site of Chief Meshingomesia and members of his tribe of the Miami Indians. The land was deeded to the Miami by the United States in the Treaty of 1840. The historic Miami Indian Village schoolhouse is also located at this site.

Chief Meshingomesia was a prominent figure in the war of 1812. He was the son of Miami Chief Metocinyah. This tribe of the Miami Indians was chronicled in history by engaging in the first major battle of the War of 1812 in Grant County Indiana. The Mississinewa Battlefield was the site of the first victory of the United States Army during the War of 1812, on December 17-18, 1812. A 600-man mounted force led by Lt. Col. John B. Campbell attacked and destroyed four British-allied Indian villages led by Chief Meshingomesia. This is the site of the annual Mississinewa 1812 living history event. Re-enactment enthusiasts flock to this area each fall to don their historical uniforms and reenact the epic battle.

The war took its toll on the American forces and this land was deeded to the Miami by the United States in the Treaty of 1840. Chief Meshingomesia is honored for his willingness to partner with the United States government after the conflict.

Famous Firsts for Native Americans

Maria Tallchief   

Maria Tallchief was a revolutionary American ballerina who broke barriers for Native American women. Maria Tallchief was the first Native American (Osage Tribe) woman to break into ballet. Tallchief grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she studied ballet for many years. Her career as a ballerina spanned the globe and led to a short marriage to George Balanchine. 

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Susan La Flesche Photo   

Born in 1865, Susan La Flesche grew up on the Omaha reservation. During her childhood, she saw a white doctor refuse to treat an ailing American Indian woman. This spurred La Flesche to become a physician herself. In 1889, she was the first female Native American to earn a medical degree in the United States.

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Russell Means was born an Oglala/Lakota Sioux Indian. He was the first national director of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in which role he became prominent during the 1973 standoff with the U.S. government at Wounded Knee. In 1987, he joined the U.S. Libertarian Party and announced his candidacy for the party's presidential nomination. (He lost the nomination to Congressman Ron Paul). Means appeared in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Natural Born Killers (1994) and other movies. He championed the rights of indigenous peoples in other countries as well as the U.S. In a televised speech to the 2000 Libertarian Party National Convention, Means said that he prefers the label "Indian" to the more politically-correct "Native American". "Everyone who is born in America is a native American," he said.

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Other Notable Native Americans

Wayne Newton   

With a handful of hits to his credit, singer Wayne Newton has spent more than five decades as one of Las Vegas's most popular entertainers. Wayne Newton started singing professionally as a child. In his teenage years, he performed with his older brother. Newton became a solo performer in the early 1960s and scored such hits as "Danke Schoen" and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." For the next several decades, Newton established himself as one of Las Vegas's most popular and highest-paid performers. Wayne Newton spent much of his childhood in Virginia. His father worked as a mechanic and his mother stayed home to raise their two children. Both of his parents had Native American roots — Cherokee on his mother's side and Powahatan on his father's side.

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Wilma Mankiller    

Wilma Mankiller worked for several years as a leading advocate for the Cherokee people and became the first woman to serve as their principal chief in 1985. In 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. She sought to improve the nation’s health care, education system and government. She decided not to seek re-election in 1995 due to ill health. After leaving office, Mankiller remained an activist for Native American and women's rights until her death, on April 6, 2010, in Adair County, Oklahoma.

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Image for post   

Audra Simpson, a member of the Mohawk tribe, is a scholar and professor at Columbia University who focuses on the politics of recognition. Specifically the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk struggles in keeping their legal and cultural rights. Her book, Mohawk Interrupts, was celebrated by Indigenous studies scholars as a critical addition to education on tribal community and national identity. As an anthropologist, a career in a field that is notorious for exploiting and thinking of Natives only in the past tense, Simpson pushes against these notions by centering on Native epistemologies.

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Saginaw Grant    

Saginaw Grant (Sac-n-Fox, Iowa and Otoe-Missouria Nations) Grant is the quintessential Elder in Hollywood films. Traditional dancer, motivational speaker, and tribe elder. He played Chief Big Bear in The Lone Ranger. Saginaw is the Hereditary Chief and a respected member of the Sac and Fox, Iowa and Otoe-Missouria Nations.

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Graham Greene    

Graham Greene was born in Ohsweken on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. Greene was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Dances with Wolves. He is known for his work on The Green Mile (1999), Wind River (2017) and Dances with Wolves (1990). He has been married to Hilary Blackmore since December 20, 1990.

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