Five Native American Heroes You Should Know

The Native Americans were and are no stranger to hardship. Years of systematic starvation, rape, pillaging, stolen land, and mass murder are just a few things that Native Americans suffered at the hands of colonialism. The American Indian Wars period, which lasted from 1622 - 1924, gave birth to some of the most influential and legendary Native American heroes in history. From peace driven interpreters to ruthless fighters, here are a few you should know about.

Geronimo - Apache

Geronimo was an Apache leader, medicine man, and warrior who fought tooth and nail to protect his people and homeland from foreign settlers. As a young adult, the Bedonkohe encampment was raided by Mexican soldiers who'd slaughtered most of the camp. Among those murdered were his mother, wife, and all three of his children. This set him on a new path to viciously protect his land and people at all costs.

Later he broke out of not one, not two, but three US Indian Reservations. The hunt for him and his men used nearly a quarter of the US Army, where his fame grew as an outstanding Apache freedom fighter. He was the final Native American leader to surrender and spent the last 23 years of his life a POW. A man of persistence, though, he famously pleaded for Roosevelt to allow the Apaches to return to their native land (which he denied).

Sarah Winnemucca - Northern Paiute

Sarah Winnemucca was a tribal leader, author, translator, and peace visionary for the Paiute people. She was dedicated to fostering peaceful relations between her tribe and settlers as an interpreter and later, an army scout. This was used as a means not just to create healthy relationships between the two peoples, but to spread the truth of the mistreatment of her tribe and brutalities Native Americans suffered at the hands of colonizers. She is remembered as being one of the most influential Native American heroes in history and a true western legend.

Sitting Bull - Hunkpapa Lakota