Saturday, November 26, 2011

Native American Indian Heritage Month History

Ben Nighthorse Campbell 1933-

The only American Indian in Congress, Republican senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell is also a Northern Cheyenne chief. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado in 1987 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1992-2004. Campbell was a leader in policy dealing with natural resources and public lands and initiated legislation to found the National Museum of the American Indian within the Smithsonian Institution. He declined running for a third term in the Senate, citing health and personal reasons. A three-time U.S. judo champion, Campbell was captain of the U.S. Olympic judo team in 1964. He is also a rancher, horse trainer, and jewelry designer.

Sacajawea 1788-1812

Sacajawea is most well know for accompanying Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their Corps of Discovery of the Western United States in 1806. She was born in a Shoshone tribe as Agaidika, or "Salmon Eater" in 1788. In February of 1805, just after meeting Lewis and Clark, Lewis assisted in the birth of her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Her face now appears in the dollar coin.

Pontiac 1720-1769

Known in his Ottawa tongue as Obwandiyag, Chief Pontiac is most well known for his defense of the Great Lakes Region of the US from the British Troop invasion and occupation. In 1763, Pontiac and 300 of his followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. Eventually the revolt rose to 900 plus Natives and they eventually took the Fort at The Battle of Bloody Run. Though 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. Increasingly ostracized, in 1769 he was assassinated by a Peoria Indian in Illinois.

Sitting Bull 1831-1890

Sitting Bull (Sioux: Tatanka Iyotake first named Slon-he, or, literally, slow), was a Hunkpapa Lakota medicine man and holy man. He is famous in both American and Native American history mostly for his major victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn against Custer, where his premonition of defeating them became reality. Even today, his name is synonymous with Native American culture, and he is considered to be one of the most famous Native Americans ever.

Black Hawk 1767-1838

Though not a traditional tribe chief, even after inheriting a very important medicine bundle, Black Hawk would become more well known as a War Chief. In his tribe's (Sauk's) tongue, his name, Makataimeshekiakiak, means, "Be a large black hawk". During the War of 1812 Black Hawk, so name-shortened by the English, became a fierce and powerful opponent. First fighting on the side of the British, Black Hawk eventually led a band of Sauk and Fox against settlers in Illinois and Wisconsin, eventually dying in Iowa. His legend is kept alive by many claiming to be directly related, like Jim Thorpe. This is, however, myth.

Hiawatha 1550-1600

Hiawatha who lived (depending on the version of the story) in the 1400s, or 1500s, he was variously a leader of the Onondaga and Mohawk nations of Native Americans. Hiawatha was a follower of The Great Peacemaker, a prophet and spiritual leader who was credited as the founder of the Iroquois confederacy, (referred to as Haudenosaunee by the people). If The Great Peacemaker was the man of ideas, Hiawatha was the politician who actually put the plan into practice. Hiawatha was a skilled and charismatic orator, and was instrumental in persuading the Iroquois peoples, the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, and Mohawks, a group of Native North Americans who shared similar languages, to accept The Great Peacemaker's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. (Later, in 1721, the Tuscarora nation joined the Iroquois confederacy, and they became the Six Nations).

(Information for this article taken from Weekly Reader News)

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