Sioux Indian Chiefs and Leaders

Eastman, Charles Alexander (Ohiyesa, ‘the Winner’). A Santee Dakota physician and author, born in 1858 near Redwood Falls, Minn. His father was a full-blood Sioux named Many Lightnings, and his mother the half-blood daughter of a well-known army officer. His mother dying soon after his birth, he was reared by his paternal grandmother and an uncle, who after the Minnesota massacre in 1862 fled with the boy into Canada. Here he lived the life of a wild Indian until he was 15 years of age, when his father, who in the meantime had accepted Christianity and civilization, sought him out and brought him home to Flandreau, S. Dak., where a few Sioux families had established themselves as farmers and homesteaders. Ohiyesa was placed in the mission school at Santee, Nebr., where he made such progress in 2 years that he was selected for a more advanced course and sent to Beloit College, Beloit, Wis. After 2 years spent there in the preparatory department he went to Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., thence to Kimball Academy and Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He was graduated from Dartmouth in 1887, and immediately entered the Boston University school of medicine, receiving the degree of M. D. in 1890. Dr Eastman was then appointed Government physician to the Pine Ridge agency, S. Dak., and served there nearly 3 years, through the ghost-dance disturbance and afterward. In 1893 he went St. Paul, Minn., and entered there on the practice of medicine, also serving for 3 years as traveling secretary of the Young Men s Christian Association among the Indians. Afterward he was attorney for the Sioux at Washington, and later again Government physician at Croy Creek, S. Dak. In 1903 he was appointed by the Office of Indian Affairs to the special work of revising the allotment rolls and selecting permanent family names for the Sioux. His first book, “Indian Boy hood,” appeared in 1902, and “Red Hunters and the Animal People” in 1904. He is an occasional contributor to the magazines and lectures frequently on Indian life and history. In 1891 Dr Eastman married Miss Elaine Goodale, of Massachusetts, and they have 6 children. (E. G. E.)


Eastman, John (Mahpiyawakankidan, ‘Sacred Cloud Worshipper’). A Santee Dakota of three-fourths blood, brother of Charles Alexander Eastman, noted as being a college-bred Presbyterian clergy man; born in Mar., 1849, at Shakopee, Minn. His father was Many Lightnings, a full-blood Sioux, who, on becoming a Christian in 1864, took the name of Jacob Eastman. His mother, Mary Nancy Eastman, was the daughter of Capt. Seth Eastman, an American army officer, and maternal granddaughter of Cloudman, a Sioux chief. He continued with his father, except for one year at Beloit College, Wis., until the latter died in 1876. The game year he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister at Flandreau, S. Dak., and installed as pastor of the Indian church of Flandreau township, which had been organized in 1871 and provided by the Presbyterian Mission Board with a building in 1874. Mr East man took charge of a Government school and began teaching the youth of the Santee res. in 1878, but resigned this charge in 1885 in order to accept the position of overseer of the band then living in Flandreau township. He retired from this position in 1896 and now devotes much of his attention to the work of his ministry and the cultivation of a small farm purchased some years ago. His church now numbers 96 communicants. In 1874 Mr Eastman married Miss Mary J. Faribault, a half-blood Santee. They are parents of 6 children. Mr Eastman is still active in tribal affairs, and since about 1880 has annually served in the capacity of delegate of his people at Washington.


Gall (Pizí). A chief of the Hunkpapa Teton Sioux, born on Moreau r., S.Dak., in 1840; died at Oak cr., S.Dak., Dec. 5, 1894. He was of humble parentage, but was well brought up, receiving the usual consideration of his people for an orphan, his mother being a poor widow. As a young man he was a warrior of note, and that he was possessed of military genius of high order was shown by the disposition he made of his forces at the battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876, where he led the Sioux. He was the lieutenant of Sitting Bull, but had the quality of leadership in the field that was lacking in his chief. He fled to Canada with Sitting Bull after the Custer affair, but in 1880 he and Crow Chief withdrew from the Sitting Bull following, leaving the latter with but few people. With his followers he surrendered to Maj. Ilges at Poplar r. camp, Mont., Jan. 1, 1881, and settled as a farmer on Standing Rock res., N. and S.Dak. He denounced Sitting Bull as a coward and a fraud and became a friend to the whites, wielding a potent influence in procuring the submission of the Indians to the plan of the Government for the education of the children. He was a man of noble presence and much esteemed for his candor and sagacity by the whites with whom he came in contact. He was influential in bringing about the ratification of the act of Mar. 2, 1889, the last agreement with the Sioux by which their great reservation was divided into separate reservations and certain portions were ceded to the United States. From 1889 he was a judge of the court of Indian offenses at Standing Rock agency. (J. M L.)


Hollow-horn Bear. A Brulé Sioux chief, born in Sheridan co., Nebr., in Mar., 1850. When but 16 years of age he accompanied a band led by his father against the Pawnee, whom they fought on the present site of Genoa, Nebr. In 1868 he joined a band of Brulé in an attack on United States troops in Wyoming, and in another where now is situated the Crow agency, Mont.; and in the following year participated in a raid on the laborers who were constructing the Union Pacific R. R. Subsequently he became captain of police at Rosebud agency, S. Dak., and arrested his predecessor, Crow Dog, for the murder of Spotted Tail. Five years later he resigned and was appointed second lieutenant under Agent Spencer, but was again compelled to resign on account of ill health. When Gen. Crook was sent with a commission to Rosebud, in 1889, to make an agreement with the Indians there, Hollow-horn Bear was chosen by the Sioux as their speaker, being considered an orator of unusual ability. He took part in the parade at the inauguration of President Roosevelt at Washington, Mar. 4, 1905. (C. T.)


Red Thunder. A chief of the Pabaksa or Cuthead band of Yanktonai Sioux in the early part of the 19th century; also known as Shappa, the Beaver. Lieut. Z. M. Pike saw him at the great council at Prairie du Chien, Wis., in Apr. 1806, and pronounced him the most gorgeously dressed of any chief he met. With his famous son Waneta he enlisted with the British in the War of 1812, and fought at Ft Meigs and at Sandusky, Ohio. He was killed under tragic circumstances by the Chippewa on Red River of the North in 1823. Col. Robert Dickson, the British agent in the west during 1812-15, married a sister of Red Thunder.

Waneta (‘The Charger’) A Yanktonai Sioux of the Pabaksa or Cuthead band, son of Shappa or Red Thunder.
Born on Elm River in the present Brown County, South Dakota about 1795.  He enlisted with his father in the English service in the War of 1812, and fought valiantly at Ft. Meigs and Sandusky, winning his name by his bravery in charging the Americans in the open, and being seriously wounded in the battle at the latter place.
After the war he was given a captain’s commission by the British, and visited England.  He continued to sympathize with the British until 1820, when he attempted to destroy Ft. Snelling by stealth, but being thwarted in his enterprise by Col. Snelling, he afterward heartily supported American interests.
Waneta was a dominate chief of the Sioux and exceedingly active in his operations.  He signed the treaty of trade and intercourse at Ft. Pierre, July5, 1825 and on Aug. 17 of the same year signed the treaty of Prairie du Chien which fixed the boundaries of the Sioux territory.
He died in 1848 at the mouth of the Warreconne, the present Beaver Creek, Emmons County, North Dakota.  His name is variously spelled as Wahnaataa, Wanota, and Wawnahton.

Big Foot (Si-tanka). A Hunkpapa Sioux chief, of the Cheyenne River reservation, South Dakota, leader of the band of about 300 men, women, and children who fled from the reservation after the killing of Sitting Bull in the autumn of 1890, intending to join the hostiles in the Badlands.
They were intercepted by troops on Wounded Knee Creek and surrendered, but in at­tempting to disarm the Indians a conflict was precipitated, resulting in an engagement in which almost the entire hand, including Big Foot, was exterminated, Dec. 29, 1890. See Mooney in 14th Rep. B. A. E., 1896.

Renville, Gabriel. The last chief of the Sisseton Sioux, to which position he was appointed in 1866 by the War Department. He was a son of Victor and a nephew of the celebrated Joseph Renville. He was born at Sweet Corn’s village, Big Stone lake, S. Dak., in Apr. 1824, and died at Sisseton agency, Aug. 26, 1902. His mother was Winona Crawford, daughter of Captain Crawford of the English army and of a daughter of Walking Buffalo Redwing (Tatankamani), chief of the Khemnichan. Gabriel was a valued friend of the whites during the massacre and resulting war of the Sioux outbreak in 1862-65.

Renville, Joseph. The half-Sioux son of a French fur-trader, born at Kaposia (St Paul), Minn., in 1779. His early childhood was passed in the tipi of his mother, but when about 10 years of age he was taken by his father to Canada and placed under the care of a Catholic priest, from whom he received knowledge of the French language. He came into prominence as a guide to Lieut. Z. M. Pike in 1805, and entered the service of the British in the War of 1812,as interpreter to the Sioux, with the rank of captain. He was present at Ft Meigs and Ft Stephenson, Ohio, and the good conduct of the Indians there was clue largely to his influence. He went to the great council at Portage des Sioux (mouth of the Missouri) in 1815 as interpreter, and resigned his British commission and half pay to attach himself thenceforth to the American interest. He organized the Columbia Fur Co., with headquarters on Lake Traverse, Minn., and, calling to his assistance many of the bold characters released front other service by the consolidation of the Hudson’s Bay and N. W. Fur Cos., was able to meet the American Fur Co. on its own grounds with a competition so strong that the latter was glad to make terms and place the Columbia Co.’s men in charge of its Upper Missouri outfit. At the time of the consolidation Renville established an independent business at Lac qui Parle which he conducted until his death.
In 1834 he met Dr. T. S. Williamson, the famous missionary, at Prairie do Chien, out on his first reconnaissance, and arranged with him to go to Lac qui Parle and establish a mission the next year. Williamson returned to Ohio for his family, and the next spring met Renville at Ft Snelling, whence he proceeded to Lac qui Parle, which became the scene of most of his long service with the Sioux. They were soon after joined by Dr S. R. Riggs, and engaged, with Renville’s assistance, in the translation of the Scriptures. Renville translated every word of the Bible into the Dakota language, and the missionaries faithfully recorded it; he also rendered them invaluable assistance in the construction of the grammar and dictionary of the Dakota language. In 1841 Renville was chosen and ordained a ruling elder, discharging the duties of his office until his death at Lac qui Parle in Mar. 1846. Many descendants still reside among the Sisseton Sioux in South Dakota.

Wizikute (‘Pine Shooter’). The great chief of the Sioux when Hennepin (who referred to him as Ouasicoude) was among them in 1680. His home was at the head of Rum river, Minn. He seems to have been a wise and good man, who protected the French from the cupidity of some of the other chiefs.
When Hennepin and Du Luth were about to return to Canada, Wizikute supplied them with an abundance of wild oats, and “with a pencil, he marked down on a sheet of paper, which I had left, the course that we were to keep for 400 leagues together. In short, this natural geographer described our way so exactly that this chart served us as well as any compass could have done, for by observing it punctually we arrived at the place designed without losing our way in the least.”


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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