Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2111
Big Foot is a Minneconjou chief who surrenders his people when the military starts killing indiscriminately in revenge for the death of Custer. After he is identified as an instigator of the Ghost Dance, Big Foot tries to take his people to Red Cloud's Agency at Pine Ridge. The Army captures and tries to disarm them. In the process, a Minneconjou fires a shot and the military reacts, killing Big Foot and most of the Minneconjous.
Black Kettle is a Cheyenne chief who goes to great lengths to keep peace with white people. He assures his people at Sand Creek that they have protection from the Army, who slaughters the village. He escapes, but is tricked once again at a later date, and dies while trying to make peace with the soldiers. General Sheridan lies about Black Kettle's death, saying that he was offered peace but chose to make war.
Captain Jack is the chief of the Modocs; he tries to make peace with white people, even after some Modocs are killed. However, when Hooker Jim's band of Modocs kill some settlers, Captain Jack agrees not to turn them in. He kills General Canby under pressure from this band who then betrays Captain Jack by helping the Army find him. Captain Jack is hanged.
Cochise is an Apache chief who fights many battles with the American military, escapes capture on several occasions, and helps lead raids against white settlers. When American soldiers shoot his father-in-law, Mangas, Cochise rides to Mexico and forces a Mexican surgeon to save Mangas's life. Cochise is able to secure a reservation that encompasses part of the Apaches' land.
Crazy Horse is a Sioux chief who refuses to live on a reservation. As a young man, Crazy Horse distinguishes himself in Red Cloud's War. He is one of the many chiefs who oppose selling the Black Hills to the government, and he helps lead several battles in this war, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which General Custer is killed. When the military comes in overwhelming force to avenge Custer's death, Crazy Horse attempts to fight them, but ultimately he surrenders. When several of his people enlist with the military to help fight other Native Americans, Crazy Horse tries to take the rest of his people and return to his land. He is captured and is fatally stabbed while trying to escape. Crazy Horse's parents bury his heart and bones near Wounded Knee Creek.
General George Crook
General Crook leads several campaigns against the Apaches—who call him Gray Wolf—and the Plains Native Americans—who call him Three Stars. Over the course of a decade, Crook's cold attitude towards Native Americans changes to one of respect and sympathy. He helps the runaway Poncas win their freedom in court, uses diplomacy instead of force to get Geronimo to surrender, and condemns local newspapers for spreading lies about the Apaches. He resigns when the War Department does not recognize Crook's surrender terms with Geronimo. The government later dupes Crook into convincing the Sioux that the government will take their lands by force if the Sioux do not sell them.
General George Armstrong Custer
General Custer participates in several campaigns against the Plains Native Americans—who call him either Hard Backsides or Long Hair. Custer reports that the Black Hills are filled with gold, which attracts many gold seekers to the region. During the resulting War for the Black Hills, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors kill Custer and all of his men—the greatest defeat suffered by the United States Army in the conflicts with Native Americans. The government's massive retaliation for this defeat ultimately leads to the end of freedom for all Plains Native Americans.
Donehogawa, an Iroquois who takes the American name of Ely Samuel Parker, has an unusual amount of success in the world of white people. He learns English and goes to law school but is refused the right to take the bar exam. He becomes a civil engineer and serves with General Grant during the Civil War. When General Lee surrenders at Appomattox, Parker writes out the terms of surrender. When Grant is elected president, he makes Parker his Commissioner of Indian Affairs. However, a strong political group opposed to any Native American in government eventually harasses Parker until he resigns.
Dull Knife is a Northern-Cheyenne chief who helps lead a number of battles. Following Custer's defeat at the Little Bighorn, the military attacks and destroys Dull Knife's village. The Northern Cheyennes are transferred to a Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory, where many die from hunger and disease. Dull Knife and several Cheyennes seek sanctuary with Red Cloud but are captured. They escape, but only Dull Knife and a small band of Cheyennes make it to Red Cloud's agency, where they become prisoners.
Geronimo is an Apache chief who leads many raids into Mexico. When the government places soldiers near his reservation, Geronimo thinks he is in danger. He and others escape to their Mexican stronghold and build a small army. Geronimo surrenders to General Crook but leaves the reservation again when he hears rumors he is going to be arrested. The Army sends a force of several thousand against Geronimo's twenty-four men. Geronimo surrenders and is sent to prison in Florida. He dies on a reservation as a prisoner of war.
The Gray Wolf
See General George Crook
The Great Warrior Sherman
See General William T. Sherman
See General George Armstrong Custer
Kicking Bird is a Kiowa chief who refuses to engage in or support aggressive acts against the Army. Because of this allegiance, the government forces Kicking Bird to choose several Kiowas to answer for the tribe's part in their battles. Kicking Bird dies mysteriously after drinking a cup of coffee, two days after his life was threatened by a medicine man.
Little Crow is a chief of the Santee Sioux, who are repeatedly swindled out of their treaty provisions. Little Crow does not want to fight the powerful U.S. military, but he has no choice when some of the Santee Sioux young men kill settlers. The Santees win some battles but lose the war when their major ambush fails and when Little Crow is betrayed by another Santee. Little Crow is shot and killed by a white settler.
Little Wolf is a Northern-Cheyenne chief who helps lead a number of battles. The Northern Cheyennes are transferred to a Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory, where many die from hunger and disease. Little Wolf and several other Cheyennes flee north towards their old territory but surrender after spending a winter hiding from soldiers. Little Wolf is one of many Native Americans who is destroyed by alcohol.
Lone Wolf is a Kiowa chief who arranges for the parole of Satanta and another chief. He argues with Kicking Bird's peaceful ways. Lone Wolf joins with the Comanches and participates in several battles with white soldiers and hunters, in an attempt to drive them out of the region and save the buffalo. When his son dies in one of these battles, Lone Wolf strengthens his resolve. Lone Wolf is one of the last Kiowas to surrender and is one of the people chosen by Kicking Bird to be imprisoned.
See General George Armstrong Custer
Manuelito is a Navaho chief who tries to maintain peace with the United States through treaties. However, after U.S. soldiers cheat during a friendly horse race—and shoot Navahos who try to protest—the Navahos go to war with the soldiers. Manuelito is the last chief to surrender. He and the others live in squalor for two years at the Bosque Redondo reservation before the government allows them to return to a small portion of their old land.
Ouray the Arrow
Ouray is a Ute chief who is fluent in English. He uses these skills to retain a large chunk of Ute land. When a new agent comes to the White River Agency and attempts to convert Ouray and the Utes to his religion and ways of life, the agent instigates a battle. The government uses the incident as justification to take the Ute land.
Ely Samuel Parker
Red Cloud is a Sioux chief who wins many battles against the U.S. government. He engages in a successful guerrilla war that causes the government to withdraw the Army from the region. When Red Cloud finds out later that the peace treaty he signed had unknown items in it, he successfully presents his case to President Grant and Donehogawa. He also wins over a crowd of New Yorkers with his impassioned speech about the false treaty. Ultimately, however, Red Cloud loses all that he has gained when he is forced to sign a treaty giving away his lands and move his people to a reservation.
Roman Nose is a Southern-Cheyenne warrior. Although he is not a chief, he commands the allegiance of the Dog Soldier Society, a powerful group of Cheyenne warriors. He leads a successful attack against soldiers in the Powder River country and unifies the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos to fight for their own country. The government knows that Roman Nose is the key to a lasting peace in the area, but he refuses to attend a peace commission. Instead, he leads several raids against settlers and dies while fighting a small band of Army scouts.
Satanta is a Kiowa chief who is captured and imprisoned. Eventually, Lone Wolf arranges for his parole. Satanta and his warriors are unsuccessful in their fight to drive away the white buffalo hunters. Satanta is eventually given life in prison, where he commits suicide.
General Philip Sheridan
General Sheridan leads several campaigns against the Plains Native Americans. He lies about the massacre at Black Kettle's village, saying that he had offered the chief sanctuary. Sheridan makes a comment that in being quoted eventually evolves into the hate statement: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Sheridan believes that killing all of the buffalo is the best way to get Native Americans to adopt white culture.
General William T. Sherman
General Sherman, a Civil War hero known as the Great Warrior Sherman by most Native Americans, oversees American forces through many of the Native-American wars. He attends several peace commissions with various Native-American tribes. Following Custer's defeat, Sherman assumes military control of all reservations. After Standing Bear wins his court case and freedom, Sherman defies the new law by giving General Sheridan military authority to apprehend other Poncas.
Sitting Bull is the Sioux's most powerful chief, and on some occasions he commands allegiance from other Native-American tribes as well. He fights many battles with U.S. soldiers to preserve his freedom and the Sioux ownership of the Black Hills. He and Crazy Horse defeat Custer's forces at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When the military comes in overwhelming force to avenge Custer's death, Sitting Bull and some of his followers move into Canada. However, he becomes a military prisoner after he returns to the United States under a false promise of amnesty. Many chiefs, newspaper reporters, and others come to visit him, and Sitting Bull soon becomes a celebrity. He even receives permission to go on tour around the country. The government incorrectly believes that Sitting Bull is responsible for the spread of the Ghost Dance and tries to arrest him. He is killed in the process by two Sioux policemen.
Standing Bear is a Ponca chief. Standing Bear's people are tricked into being transferred to Indian Territory, where many of them die, including his last son. He and a group of Poncas are captured while trying to return to Poncas land to bury him. General Crook, two lawyers, and a sympathetic judge intervene, and Standing Bear successfully wins freedom for him and his escort party but not for the rest of his people.
See General George Crook
Young Joseph, generally known as Chief Joseph, is a Nez-Percé chief. When miners pressure the government to move the Nez Percés to a reservation, Chief Joseph tries to go peacefully but resolves to fight after some of his warriors kill settlers. He leads his noted marksmen to several victories against superior forces, but the military ultimately overpowers him and he surrenders. He and most of the others are sent to Indian Territory, where he dies of a broken heart—according to the agency physician.
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