Famous Sioux Chiefs, Medicine Men, and Leaders
Leaders of the Sioux tribes are some of the most recognized names in native American history. There are links to in depth profiles at the bottom of the page.
American Horse “The Younger” (Wašíčuŋ Tȟašúŋke) — Oglala Lakota Chief
American Horse “The Elder” (Wašíčuŋ Tȟašúŋke) — Oglala Lakota Chief
Big Curly –
Big Eagle (Waŋbdí Tháŋka) — Mdewakanton Dakota chief
Big Foot a.k.a. Spotted Elk (Unpan Glešká) — Miniconjou Lakota chief
Bigfoot – (Not the same as Spotted Elk)
Big Mouth –
Black Elk (Heȟáka Sápa) — Famous Oglala Lakota medicine and holy man
Blue Earth (Mankato a.k.a. M-ak’-to) –
Black Hawk (Cetan Sápa) — Itázipčho Lakota ledger artist
Black Moon (Wi Sapa) — Miniconjou Lakota chief
Blue Horse (Sunka Wakan To) — Oglala chief, warrior, educator and statesman
Charging Thunder (1877–1929), Blackfoot Sioux chief who was part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1903, but remained in England when the show returned to America.
He married Josephine, an American horse trainer who had just given birth to their first child, Bessie, and together they settled in Darwen, before moving to Gorton.
His name became George Edward Williams, after registering with the British immigration authorities to enable him to find work. Williams ended up working at the Belle Vue Zoo as an elephant keeper. He died from pneumonia on July 28, 1929.
His interment was at Gorton’s cemetery.
Conquering Bear (Matȟó Wayúhi) — Sičháŋǧu Lakota chief
Crazy Horse (Tasunka Witko or Tȟašúŋke Witkó) — Famous Oglala Lakota warrior.
Crow King aka Medicine Bag That Burns (Kȟaŋǧí Yátapi) — Hunkpapa Lakota war chief
Charles Eastman (Ohíyes’a) — Author, physician and reformer.
Flying Hawk (Čhetáŋ Kiŋyáŋ) — Oglala Lakota chief, philosopher, and historian.
Fools Crow –
Gall (Phizí) — Hunkpapa Lakota war chief
John Grass aka Charging Bear (Mato Watakpe) — Sihasapa Lakota chief
Gray Iron –
Great War Eagle (Wamditanka) –
Hollow Horn Bear (Matȟó Héȟloǧeča) — Sicangu (Brulé) Lakota leader
Horse’s Ghost – A Sioux Chief in Montana at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation who argued for Native American rights with members of President Taft’s administration.
Kicking Bear (Matȟó Wanáȟtake) — Oglala born Miniconjou Lakota warrior and chief
Kill Eagle (Wanbli Kte) — Sihasapa Lakota warrior and leader
Lame Deer (Tȟáȟča Hušté) — Mineconju Lakota holy man and spiritual preserver
Little Big Man aka Charging Bear (Wicasa Tankala) — Oglala Lakota Warrior
Little Crow a.k.a. His Red Nation(Thaóyate Dúta) — Mdewakanton Dakota chief and warrior
Little Thunder –
Lone Horn (Hehwongechat) — Miniconjou Lakota chief
Low Dog (Xunka Kuciyedano) — Oglala Lakota chief and warrior
Old Chief Smoke (Sota) — an original Oglala Lakota head chief
Old Mankato –
One Eye a.k.a. Standing Moose (Tamaha) — Mdewekanton Dakota chief
John Otherday (Aagpetu-tokecha) –
Rain-in-the-Face( Ité Omáǧažu or Itonagaju) — Hunkpapa Lakota war chief
Red Cloud (Maȟpíya Lúta) — Famous Oglala Lakota chief and spokesperson
Red Shirt (Ógle Lúta) — Oglala Lakota warrior and chief
Red Thunder (also known as Shappa, the Beaver) –
Running Antelope (Tȟatȟóka Íŋyaŋke) — Hunkpapa Lakota chief
Scarlet Point a.k.a. Red End (Inkpaduta) — Wahpekute Dakota war chief
Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake) — Famous Hunkpapa Lakota chief and holy man
Sleepy Eye (Ištáȟba) — Sisseton Dakota chief
Spotted Tail (Sinte Gleska) –
Luther Standing Bear aka Plenty Kill (Ota Kte) — Oglala Lakota author, educator, philosopher and actor.
Pine Shooter (Wizikute) –
Red Bird (Zitkaduta) –
Red Fish –
Red Man Who Flees Not (Napeshneeduta) –
Shakopee (Shakpe, ‘six’) –
Touch the Clouds (Maȟpíya Ičáȟtagye) – Minneconjou Lakota chief and warrior
Two Strike (Nomkahpa) — Sicangu Lakota chief
Walking Buffalo (Tatankamani)
Chief Wabasha –
White Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Ská) — Miniconjou Lakota warrior and nephew of Sitting Bull
Young Man Afraid Of His Horses (Tȟašúŋke Kȟokípȟapi) — Oglala Lakota Chief. He wasn’t afraid of his horses, his enemys were because his horse was trained to be fierce in battle.
Famous Contemporary Sioux
Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša) — Author, educator, musician and political activist.
Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington — World War II Fighter Ace and Medal of Honor recipient; 1/4 Sioux
Robert “Tree” Cody
Mary Crow Dog – Activist, gave birth to her first child at the Wounded Knee Standoff.
Leonard Crow Dog – Medicine Man
Ella Carla Deloria (Anpetu Wastewin), Yankton Sioux (1888-1971), Author
Vine Deloria, Author
Indigenous – blues band.
Illinois Jacquet –
Ed McGaa – Author.
Russell Means – Actor, activist. Leader of American Indian Movement.
- Russell Means – (Nov. 10, 1939-Oct. 29, 2012) Extensive obituary. According to the New York times, he was the most famous Indian “since Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.”
- Russell Means Timeline
Theodore “Ted” Lyle Means (1946 – November 23, 2011, Lakota) was very active in the American Indian Movement’s 71 day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.
Billy Mills – A famous Sioux Olympian athlete.
Ellen Moves Camp, Oglala Sioux (September 25, 1930 – April 5, 2008) was known, along with Gladys Bissonnette, as the “Grandmas of the American Indian Movement.”
Leonard Peltier –
Chief Red Fox – Silent Film Actor. He was a nephew of the famous Sioux leader Chief Crazy Horse. He was six years old at the time of Custer’s Last Stand and gives a chilling account of it in his memoirs.
Eddie Spears – Actor, model.
Michael Spears – Actor, model.
Chaske Spencer (born March 9, 1975) – Native American actor of Lakota, Nez Perce, Cherokee, Creek, French, and Dutch descent. He is a member of the Fort Peck tribe.
John Trudell – Activist, leader of American Indian Movement.
Floyd Red Crow Westerman – Actor, musician, activist
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, South Dakota (F)
One of the wittiest and shrewdest of the Sioux chiefs was American Horse, who succeeded to the name and position of an uncle, killed in the battle of Slim Buttes in 1876.
The younger American Horse was born a little before the encroachments of the whites upon the Sioux country became serious and their methods aggressive, and his early manhood brought him into that most trying and critical period of our history.
The following is Charles Eastman’s account of Chief Sitting Bull.
If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, and in my heart he put other and different desires. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.
–Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux
“Man Who Goes in the Middle,” or Pizi, a Hunkpapa Sioux chief, was one of the major Indian field commanders at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Anglo Americans know him as Chief Gall.
He was born around 1840 on the Moreau River in South Dakota. The boy was raised as an orphan, and little is known of his parents. He earned his name when, as a hungry youngster, he tried to eat the gall bladder of an animal. Later in his youth, he was given the name Matohinsa, “Bear Shedding His Hair,” but the name Pizi was the one by which he was best known.
As a young man, Gall took part in many battles fought by the Dakota bands under Red Cloud. When the Treaty of 1868 was signed, Gall was one of the many who refused to comply with the provision of all Dakota Indians returning to reservations.
Sitting Bull adopted Gall as a younger brother, and he later became a Dakota war chief. Gall was accused of a murder he did not commit, and the Army put a price on his head. Gall went into Fort Berthold to protest. He was seized, bayoneted and left for dead. Remarkably, he was able to crawl away and survived. Later, he took his revenge by preying upon the Bozeman Expedition and was involved in several disastrous raids.
In 1876, Sitting Bull, Gall and their warriors were grouped in a huge encampment on the Little Bighorn River it was perhaps the largest single gathering of Indian forces yet seen in the Northern Plains area. On June 25, troops under General Custer and Major Reno attacked. Gall sprang into action and turned the flank of Reno’s men, forcing them to retreat. He and Crazy Horse then surrounded Custer’s cavalry and wiped them out.
Gall first pursued Reno’s detachment, but he returned to the main camp when it became apparent the main body of the United States force was en route to the scene. The encampment broke up, and the various bands began a retreat to the north. After several skirmishes with the Army, Gall, Sitting Bull, and their followers escaped into Canada.
Winters there were harsh, and many became discouraged. After four years, Gall, Crow Chief and others denounced Sitting Bull and returned to the United States where they settled at Standing Rock Reservation.
In 1881, Gall reconciled himself to white authority and became a farmer. Eventually he befriended James McLaughlin, an Indian Agent. McLaughlin convinced Gall the Dakota should send their children to school.
When Sitting Bull returned from Canada in 1881, Gall opposed the policies of his one-time mentor, accusing him of cowardice. Gall had come to realize the futility of any further armed resistance. It was a time of relative peace, and Gall grew to be highly regarded by whites for his wisdom and honesty. He was appointed as a judge of the Court of Indian Affairs in 1889, and in the same year, he was instrumental in gaining the ratification of the last agreement with the Dakota Indians. This ratification broke up the Sioux reservation into several smaller parcels, and some of the lands were ceded to the whites.
During his last years, Gall was an envoy to Washington, D.C. on behalf of his tribe. He enjoyed a place of considerable prestige until his death at Oak Creek, South Dakota on December 5, 1895, at the age of 54.
Dockstader, Frederick J. Great North American Indians: Profiles in Life and Leadership. New York, NY: Litton Educational Publishing, Inc., 1977.
Photograph by Charles M. Bell, Washington, D.C., 1880; courtesy of the South Dakota Historical Society.