Famous Shawnee Chiefs, Warriors and Medicine Men
Benjamin Harjo, Jr. – Seminole / Absentee-Shawnee Painter and printmaker.
Big Jim (Wapameepto, “Gives light as he walks”) – Chief of the Kispicotha band of Shawnee, commonly known as Big Jim’s band of Absentee Shawnee. Grandson of Tecumseh.
Heidi Bigknife -Jeweler/silversmith
Black Bob -19th-century leader and war chief in Ohio.
Black Hoof aka Catecahassa (1740–1831) – Shawnee chief who believed his people needed to adapt to European-American culture to survive.
Blue Jacket or Weyapiersenwah (c. 1743 – c. 1810) was a war chief of the Shawnee people, known for his militant defense of Shawnee lands in the Ohio Country. Perhaps the preeminent American Indian leader in the Northwest Indian War, in which a pan-tribal confederacy fought several battles with the United States. He was an important predecessor of the famous Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
Peter Chartier aka Wacanackshin (1690–1759) – French-Canadian-Shawnee who opposed the sale of alcohol in Shawnee communities and fought on the side of the French in the French and Indian War.
Chiksika (1760–1792) – Kispoko war chief and older brother of Tecumseh.
Yvonne Chouteau – Former prima ballerina.
Cornstalk (1720–1777) – Leader of the the Shawnee in Dunmore’s War of 1774.
George Drouillard (1773–1810) – Scout on Lewis and Clark expedition.
Ruthe Blalock Jones – Painter and arts educator.
Keith Longhorn – Actor, Model, Musician, Artist, Dancer from the Absentee Shawnee tribe.
Nas’Naga (1941–2012) – Novelist and poet in United States.
Nonhelema (1720–1786) – Sister of Cornstalk, helped compile the dictionary for the Shawnee language.
Brad Pitt – Actor.Though not Absentee Shawnee himself, Brad was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, headquarters for this tribe.
Sat-Okh (1920–2003) – Polish-Shawnee Canadian, fought in WWII, novelist.
Ernest Spybuck (Maythela)(1883–1949), Absentee-Shawnee artist and autoethnographer – Born in Indian Territory near Tecumseh in January 1883 on the Potawatomi-Shawnee Reservation.
Tecumseh – Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh calls on all Indians to unite and resist. Born around 1768 near Springfield, Ohio, Tecumseh early won notice as a brave warrior. He fought in battles between the Shawnee and the white Kentuckians, who were invading the Ohio River Valley territory.
After the Americans won several important battles in the mid-1790s, Tecumseh reluctantly relocated westward but remained an implacable foe of the white men and their ways.
Tenskwatawa – Brother of Tecumseh. Tenskwatawa was born in 1775. a.k.a. Lalawethika (the Rattle), his mother abandoned him in 1779. By all accounts, Lalawethika lacked the physical abilities that his other siblings, including his elder brother Tecumseh, enjoyed. His older siblings refused to train him in hunting and fighting. He was so unskilled with a bow and arrow that he blinded himself in his right eye with a wayward arrow.
As an adult, he became reliant on the kindness of his fellow tribesmen to feed himself and his family. He also turned to alcohol to forget his problems, quickly becoming dependent upon liquor. Not having the physical abilities to become a warrior, Lalawethika attempted to learn the ways of his village’s medicine man. When the man died in 1804, Lalawethika quickly proved unable to meet his people’s needs.
In April 1805 while lighting his pipe, Lalawethika fell into a deep trance. His family believed that he had died and prepared his body for a funeral. Lalawethika regained consciousness and claimed that the Master of Life, a Shawnee deity, had visited him.
White Turkey – Another principal leader of an Absentee-Shawnee band. Unlike Big Jim, he was in favor of assimulation with the white man.
Benjamin Harjo Jr. (born 1945) is an award-winning painter and printmaker from Oklahoma. Harjo is half-Seminole and half-Shawnee and is enrolled in the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.
Big Jim was the popular name of a noted full-blood Shawnee leader, known among his people as Wapameepto, “Gives light as he walks”. His English name was originally Dick Jim, later corrupted into Big Jim. He was also known as White Road.
Wapameepto was born on the Sabine Reservation in Texas in 1834. His grandfather was Tecumseh, and his father was one of the signers of the Sam Houston treaty between the Cherokee and affiliated tribes and the Republic of Texas, signed on February 23, 1836.
In 1872 Big Jim became chief of the Kispicotha band of Shawnee, commonly known as Big Jim’s band of Absentee Shawnee. He was probably the most conservative member of his tribe. In the full aboriginal belief that the earth was his mother and that she must not be wounded by tilling of the soil, he refused until the last to receive the allotments of land that had been forced upon his band in Oklahoma in 1890 and 1891, and used every means possible to overcome the encroachments of civilization.
For the purpose of finding a place where his people would be free from molestation, he led his band of traditionalists to Mexico in 1900, and while there was stricken with smallpox in August, and died. He was succeeded by his only son, Tonomo, who was about 30 in 1905.
After Big Jim’s death, his band later became known as the Little Axe band.
Black Bob (Wa-wah-che-pa-e-hai or Wa-wah-che-pa-e-kar) was a chief of the Hathawekela division of the Shawnee indian tribe.
He was known for being one of the last Shawnee leaders to resist leaving for the Indian Territory, and for keeping his band together until his death, holding their lands in common, as they moved between Missouri, Arkansas, and the Black Bob Reservation in Kansas.