Native American Women
Dolly Akers or Dolly Smith Cusker Akers (March 23, 1901 – June 5, 1986) – First woman elected to the Tribal Executive Board of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and the first Native American elected to the Montana Legislature.
Tammie Allen – (born 1964) – Apache Potter.
Allaquippa – A Delaware woman sachem of this name lived in 1755 near the mouth of Youghiogheny River, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and there may have been a small Delaware settlement known by her name.
Ahshahwaygeeshegoqua (The Hanging Cloud) – The so-called “Chippewa Princess” who was renowned as a warrior and as the only female among the Chippewa allowed to participate in the war ceremonies and dances, and to wear the plumes of the warriors.
Annie Antone – Tohono O’odham contemporary, pictorial basketweaver.
Barbara Bartleson – Navajo/Jicarilla Apache actress.
Irene Bedard – Iñupiaq-Cree Actress, Voice Artist, Singer
Heidi Bigknife -Shawnee jeweler/silversmith.
Buffalo Calf Robe (aka Calf Trail Woman): Buffalo Calf Robe performed one of the greatest acts of valor in the 1876 battle of the Rosebud in Montana (in which U.S. troops commanded by General Crook, along with their Crow and Shoshone allies, fought against the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux). The Shoshone and Crow shot the horse of Cheyenne Chief Comes in Sight out from under him. As the warriors were closing in to finish him off, Buffalo Calf Robe, the chief’s sister, rode into the middle of the warriors and saved the life of her brother.
Buffalo Calf Road Woman – Cheyenne. Wife of Black Coyote. Sister of Comes In Sight. Later renamed Brave Woman after Custer’s Last Stand battle. Also see Black Coyote.
Yvonne Chouteau – Former Shawnee prima ballerina.
Mildred Imoch Cleghorn – (Eh-Ohn and Lay-a-Bet) (December 11, 1910 – April 15, 1997) One of the last Chiricahua Apaches born under a “prisoner of war” status. She was an educator and traditional doll maker, and was regarded as a cultural leader. First tribal chairman of the Fort Sill Apache tribe.
Colestah – Colestah was a famed Yakama medicine woman, psychic and warrior. Armed with a stone war club, she rode into battle with her husband, Yakama leader Kamiakin, and fought at his side. In the 1858 battle of Spokane Plains in Washington, Kamiakin was nearly killed when a howitzer shell hit a tree and the tree branch knocked him from his horse. Colestah rescued him and then used her healing skills to cure him.
Samantha Crain (b. 1986) – Apache singer/songwriter, musician
Nora Thompson Dean (Touching Leaves Woman, 1907–1984) – Traditionalist, herbalist, and language instructor.
Ella Carla Deloria (Anpetu Wastewin) (1888-1971)- Yankton Sioux Author.
Karen Louise Erdrich, Author
Louise Erdrich – German/Chippewa known for her moving and often humorous portrayals of Chippewa life in North Dakota in poetry and prose.
Ella Carla Deloria (Anpetu Wastewin), Yankton Sioux (1888-1971), Author
Fallen Leaf (often called Woman Chief by the Americans) – Though Fallen Leaf became famous as a Crow warrior, she was actually born to the Gros Ventre nation and was captured by the Crow when she was 12. After she had counted coup four times in the prescribed Crow tradition, she was considered a chief and sat in the council of chiefs. In addition to being a war leader, she was also a good hunter and had two wives.
Elena Finney – Mescalero-Apache, Mexican Tarascan Indian and Irish actress.
Gouyen, (meaning “Wise Woman”) – Apache warrior. Gouyen was born into Chief Victorio’s Warm Springs Apache band around 1880. One day, while the group was resting at Tres Castillos, New Mexico, it was attacked by Mexicans.
When the offensive was over, seventy-eight Apaches had been murdered and only seventeen had escaped, including Gouyen and her young son, Kaywaykla.
Her baby daughter, however, was murdered and shortly afterwards her husband was killed in a Comanche raid while visiting the Mescalero Apaches.
A legendary tale is told about the revenge of Gouyen. One night following her husband’s death, she put on her buckskin puberty ceremony dress and left the camp carrying a water jug, dried meat, and a bone awl and sinew for repairing her moccasins.
She was looking for the Comanche chief who had killed her husband.
Finally, she found him engaged in a Victory Dance around a bonfire with her husband’s scalp hanging from his belt. Gouyen slipped into the circle of dancers, seduced the chief, and killed him, avenging her husband’s death.
Then she scalped him, cut his beaded breechcloth from his body and tore off his moccasins. She then returned to her camp to present her in-laws with the Comanche leader’s scalp, his clothing and his footwear.
Gouyen remarried an Apache warrior named Ka-ya-ten-nae. Later, she and her family were taken prisoner by the U.S. Army and held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where she died.
Indian Hannah, aka Hannah Freeman (1730–1802) – Was said to be the last of the Lenni-Lenape Indians in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Joy Harjo (b. 1959) – Muscogee-Cherokee poet and jazz musician
Suzan Shown Harjo (b. 1945) – Muscogee-Cheyenne activist, policymaker, journalist, and poet.
LaDonna Harris (born 1931) – Comanche political activist and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity.
Viola Hatch – Cheyennne activist, policymaker, tribal elder, past tribal chair.
Rosella Hightower (1920–2008) – Apache prima ballerina.
Joan Hill (b. 1930) – Muscogee-Cherokee artist.
Ruthe Blalock Jones – Shawnee painter and arts educator.
Helen Lydia Kamakaʻeha a.k.a. Liliʻuokalani Kawānanakoa (1905–1969) – Was a member of the House of Kawānanakoa and the second daughter of Hawaiian Prince David Kawānanakoa. Known by many in the Hawaiian community as Princess Liliuokalani, although she never officially held such a title.
Yvonne Kauger – Cheyenne. Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice.
Geraldine Keams – Navajo actress, writer, and storyteller.
Wonzie Klinekole – Enrolled member of the Mescalero-Apache tribe. She’s Mescalaro-Apache/Kiowa-Apache/Comanche. Actress. “Rays of the Sun,” on Walker, Texas Ranger as Emily Red Hawk in #Plague.Susan La Flesche, Sioux (1865-1915)
Magdelaine Laframboise – Odawa-French fur trader and businesswoman, also supported public education for children on Mackinac Island; added in 1984 to Michigan’s Women’s Hall of Fame.
Sacheen Littlefeather – 947-, Apache/Yaqui/Pueblo actress and activist.
Valentina Firewalks Lopez – Mescalero Apache Actress. Stars in Bonnie Looksaway’s Iron Art Wagon.
Mildred Loving – In 1967, Mildred Loving and her husband Richard successfully defeated Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage via a famed Supreme Court ruling that had nationwide implications.
Lozen – She was born into the Chihenne, Warm Springs Apache band, during the late 1840’s. She was the sister of Chief Victorio and a skillful woman warrior, a prophet, and an outstanding medicine woman.
Victorio is quoted as saying, “Lozen is my right hand, strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people.”
Legend has it that Lozen was able to use her powers in battle to learn the movements of the enemy and that she helped each band that she accompanied to successfully avoid capture.
After Victorio’s death, Lozen continued to ride with Chief Nana, and eventually joined forces with Geronimo’s band, eluding capture until she finally surrendered with this last group of free Apaches in 1886.
She died of tuberculosis at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Mobile, Alabama.
Maa-ya-ha (Grandmother Nellie) – The maternal grandmother of Ernestene Cody Begay, Maa-ya-ha, was born around 1879 into the band of Western Apaches living near Cibecue Creek. She knew a great deal about herbs, was an accomplished basket weaver, farmer and midwife. She also served as an attendant during many Sunrise Dances. Maa-ya-ha had ten children with her husband, Eskin-na-chik.
Renae Morriseau – Saulteaux/Cree actress.
Moving Robe: One of the best-known battles in the annals of Indian-American warfare is the 1876 Battle of the Greasy Grass in Montana, where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was defeated. One of those who lead the counterattack against the cavalry was the woman Tashenamani (Moving Robe).
Mary Musgrove (ca. 1700–1765) served as a cultural liaison between colonial Georgia and the Muscogee Creek community.
Lilakai Julian Neil – First woman elected to Navajo Tribal Council (1946–1951)
Nonhelema (1720–1786) – Sister of Cornstalk, helped compile the dictionary for the Shawnee language.
Daphne Odjig (b. 1919), Ottawa Woodlands style painter and member of the Indian Group of Seven.
Cynthia Ann Parker – A white captive who was captured by the Comanche as a young girl and became the wife of a Comanche chief. She was the mother of Quanah Parker. Many years later she was “rescued” by whites, and spent the rest of her life trying to get back to her Comanche people. Also see Cynthia Ann Parker Bio
Patricia Phillips – Apache, Seneca, Deleware aerospace reporting and feature writing.
- Pocahontas Profile for Kids
- Pocahontas, Pamunkey(1595?-1617)
- Queen Anne, Pamunkey(ca. 1650-ca. 1725)
Anna Price (Her Grey eyes) – (1837-1937) She was the eldest daughter of Diablo, one of the most influential chiefs of the White Mountain Apache.
Jereldine “Jeri” Redcorn, aka Bah-ha Nutte, (meaning “River Woman) (born 1939-) – A Caddo-Potawatomi artist who single-handedly revived traditional Caddo pottery.
Odilia Galvan Rodriguez – Apache writer and human rights activist.
Joanelle Romero – An actress of Apache/Cheyenne descent.
Running Eagle: She became a Blackfoot (Piegan) warrior after her husband was killed by the Crow. To avenge her husband’s death, she sought help from the Sun and was told “I will give you great power in war, but if you have intercourse with another man you will be killed.”
After this she became a very respected war leader and led many successful raids on the large Flathead horse herds west of the Rocky Mountains.
She was killed on a raid in Flathead country. As legend goes, she had had sexual relations with one of the men in her war party, and for this reason had lost her war power.
Sanapia (1895–1984) – Comanche medicine woman.
Clara Nezbah Sherman – Navajo weaver.
Gail Small – A Northern Cheyenne activist and attorney.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (b. 1967) Muskogee children’s book author, noted Jingle Dancer.
Jeannine Stalling – Cheyenne activist.
Mrs. Andrew Stanley – (1866-?) A White Mountain Apache who had her personal narrative published in the book Apache Raiding and Warfare , edited by Keith H. Basso.
In this book, she tells of her daring escape from Fort Apache in Arizona in the late 19th century. This narrative also tells of her hardships in rejoining her people.
DR. ELOISA GARCIA TAMEZ – Lipan Apache human rights defender, and the only Native American woman and individual to counter-sue the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Customs Border Patrol against the construction of the U.S. border wall, in Tamez v. Michael Chertoff et al.
To this day she staunchly defends Aboriginal Title of Lipan Apaches, and challenges the U.S. claims to sovereignty in Indigenous lands and over Indigenous Nations in the U.S. courts and in the Inter-American Commission/Organization of American States.
Maria Tallchief – Osage professional Ballerina.
Margo Tamez – (1962-) White Mountain Apache, Jumano Apache, Lipan Apache. Activist, poet, author,community historian, educator.
Luci Tapahonso – Navajo poet and lecturer.
Lucy Thompson (1856–1932) – Yurok and first indigenous Californian woman to be published.
Minnie Two Shoes (1950—2010) – Journalist, activist, publicist for the American Indian Movement, and co-founder of the Native American Press Association.
Carrie Underwood (b. 1983) – Muskogee country singer.
Lavina Washines (April 1, 1940 – June 2, 2011) was the first female leader of the Yakama Nation. She was first elected to the Yakama Nation Tribal Council in 1985. In 2006, she became chair of the tribal council, serving until 2008.
Annie Dodge Wauneka (1910-1997) – Navajo born on April 10, 1910 near Sawmill, AZ. Her father was Henry Chee Dodge. She began her education at a boarding school in Ft. Defiance, Arizona at the age of eight.
The school experienced a tuberculosis outbreak during the time of Annie’s attendance. Annie was in the first grade and even at this young age, she helped the school nurse tend the sick.
In the sixth grade Annie was sent to the Albuquerque Indian School. Her formal education ended at the end of eleventh grade, but later in life she returned to school where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Public Health from the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Annie also received an honorary Doctorate Degree from her alma mater for her tireless efforts to better the lives of the Navajo people.
Annie married George Wauneka in October, 1929. After her marriage she began to work closely with her father until his death in 1947. Two years after his death she was appointed as the first woman member of the Navajo Tribal Council.
In 1951 she was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Tribal Council’s Health and Welfare Committee. In 1956, the Surgeon General of the United States invited Mrs. Wauneka to become a member of the Advisory Committee on Indian health.
The greatest award given to Mrs. Wauneka was the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. President John F. Kennedy sent her the news in the fall of 1963. The actual presentation was made by President Lyndon B. Johnson because President Kennedy had been assassinated.
This award is given as the highest civil honor presented to an individual in peacetime. Men and women who make outstanding contributions to the security of the nation, to world peace or to cultural endeavors are considered as possible recipients for this award.
In 1997, at age 87, Mrs. Wauneka died. Her whole life was dedicated to the betterment of her tribe. A great humanitarian, Dodge fought for human rights, rights that she believed all people were entitled to have.
Through her work as an activist, Dodge helped health care move into a modern place, one that would better serve Native American interests and needs. Dodge’s past efforts in health care will continue to affect present and future Native needs.
Summer Wesley – Choctaw-Apache attorney, writer, and activist.
Elizabeth Woody – Navajo author, educator, and environmentalist.
Melanie Yazzie, Navajo contemporary print maker and educator.
Ofelia Zepeda – Tohono O’odham linguist and writer.
Zitkala-Ša, (“Red Bird”) 1876–1938 – Also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Yankton Dakota Sioux writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist.
Left off 2nd column at Arapaho
Native women who served in the U.S. Military
Hanging Cloud was the so-called “Chippewa Princess” who was renowned as a warrior and as the only female among the Chippewa allowed to participate in the war ceremonies and dances, and to wear the plumes of the warriors.
Hanging Cloud or Goes Across the Sky Woman or Arms Oneself
Tribe: Niibinaabe-Lake Superior Chippewa (today considered part of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians)
Names in Ojibwe: Ah-shah-way-gee-she-go-qua or Aazhawigiizhigokwe (“Goes Across the Sky Woman). Charles Lippert spells her name as Aazhawigiizhigokwe and translates it literally as “Goes Across the Sky Woman.” Lippert works for the Mille Lacs band with first-language Ojibwe speakers and has contributed to several on and offline published works.
Alternate Spellings / Translations: Aazhawigiizhigokwe is the contemporary spelling for Goes Across the Sky Woman. Dr. Richard E. Morse of Detroit was the first to write about this Ojibwe woman. He translated her name as “Hanging Cloud.” Since he was a non-indian outsider, and Mr. Lippert consulted people who speak Ojibwe as a first language, I tend to believe the later, but make up your own mind. Other authors refer to her as Ashwiyaa meaning “Arms oneself.”
Father: Chief Nenaa’angebi (Beautifying Bird)
Spouses: Aazhawigiizhigokwe was married three times to non-Indians and once to a mixed-blood.
1) Joe Koveo – Was a lumberman from Taylors Falls, Minnesota. He was already married to someone else when he married her, and he abandoned her shortly after their marriage ceremony.
2) James Bracklin – Rice Lake’s first mayor. Bracklin left Aazhawigiizhigokwe for a white woman named Minnie Russell.
3) Edward Dingley (b.1836) – One of the mix-blooded sons of fur trader Daniel Dingley. The 1880 census shows him living near Rice Lake and married to Waabikwe Dingley. Waabikwe’s birth year is shown as 1850, which if correct, would make her too young to be Aazhawigiizhigokwe (Hanging Cloud). Waabikwe (the grey haired), married Edward Dingley in 1857, and had one son.
After his death in 1909, Edward’s widow “Charlotte” applied for the remainder of his Civil War veteran’s pension. Substitutes were paid by wealthy Union draftees to serve in their place. Armstrong seems to indicate that Dingley was a substitute.
4) Samuel Barker – Another lumberman, who also left Ah-shah-way-gee-she-go-qua for a white woman.
By Koveo – Daughter called Ogimaabinesiikwe, who was known as Julia Quaderer, after she married John Quaderer, Jr.
By Braken – Daughter named Nellie, son named Thomas, and son named James, Jr.
By Dingley, – One son, name unknown.
By Barker – Daughter named Mary, and son named Edward.
Date of Birth: Unknown
For starters, the Ojibwe (also called the Chippewa) had no princesses. Chief Nenaa’angebi was not a king. Hanging Cloud gained her fame in battle. She was an ogichidaakwe (warrior). She literally fought and killed to protect her people.
Aazhawigiizhigokwe was of the Makwa-doodem (Bear Clan), and was born and lived most of her life at Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Her community became part of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians after the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. In her later years, Aazhawigiizhigokwe lived in the Whitefish community of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation with her son Thomas Bracklin.
According to Julia White, Hanging Cloud wore war paint, carried full battle weapons, and was a deadly warrior. As a warrior, she took part in battles, raids, hunting parties, and all sporting events reserved for warriors. She was also a full member of the war council, performed war dances, and participated in all warrior ceremonies.
In late 1854 and 1855, the talk of northern Wisconsin was a young woman from the Chippewa River around Rice Lake. Her name was Ah-shaw-way-gee-she-go-qua, which means either “Hanging Cloud” or “Goes Across the Sky Woman,” or Ashwiyaa meaning “Arms Oneself,”depending on the source.
Her father was Nenaa’angebi (Beautifying Bird) a chief who the treaties record as part of the Lac Courte Oreilles band. His band’s territory, however, was further down the Chippewa from Lac Courte Oreilles, dangerously close to the territories of the Dakota Sioux.
The Ojibwe and Dakota of that region had a long history of intermarriage, but the fallout from the Treaty of Prairie du Chien in 1825 led to increased incidents of violence. This, along with increased population pressures combined with hunting territory lost to white settlement, led to an intensification of warfare between the two nations in the mid-18th century.
The first account of Hanging Cloud reproduced here comes from Dr. Richard E. Morse of Detroit. He observed the 1855 annuity payment at La Pointe. This was the first payment following the Treaty of 1854, and it was overseen directly by Indian Affairs Commissioner George Manypenny.
This was published in 1857 as The Chippewas of Lake Superior in the third volume of the State Historical Society’s Wisconsin Historical Collections.
Morse records speeches of many of the most prominent Lake Superior Ojibwe chiefs at the time, records the death of Chief Buffalo in September of that year, and otherwise offers his observations. This is most of pages 349 to 354:
“The “Princess”–AH-SHAW-WAY-GEE-SHE-GO-QUA–The Hanging Cloud.
“The Chippewa Princess was very conspicuous at the payment. She attracted much notice; her history and character were subjects of general observation and comment, after the bands, to which she was, arrived at La Pointe, more so than any other female who attended the payment.
“She was a chivalrous warrior, of tried courage and valor; the only female who was allowed to participate in the dancing circles, war ceremonies, or to march in rank and file, to wear the plumes of the braves. Her feats of fame were not long in being known after she arrived; most persons felt curious to look upon the renowned youthful maiden.”
“She is the daughter of Chief NA-NAW-ONG-GA-BE, whose speech, with comments upon himself and bands, we have already given. Of him, who is the gifted orator, the able chieftain, this maiden is the boast of her father, the pride of her tribe. She is about the usual height of females, slim and spare-built, between eighteen and twenty years of age. These people do not keep records, nor dates of their marriages, nor of the birth of their children.”
“This female is unmarried. No warrior nor brave need presume to win her heart or to gain her hand in marriage, who cannot prove credentials to superior courage and deeds of daring upon the war-path, as well as endurance in the chase. On foot she was conceded the fleetest of her race.”
“Her complexion is rather dark, prominent nose, inclining to the Roman order, eyes rather large and very black, hair the color of coal and glossy, a countenance upon which smiles seemed strangers, an expression that indicated the ne plus ultra of craft and cunning, a face from which, sure enough, a portentous cloud seemed to be ever hanging–ominous of her name. We doubt not, that to plunge the dagger into the heart of an execrable Sioux, would be more grateful to her wish, more pleasing to her heart, than the taste of precious manna to her tongue…”
“…Inside the circle were the musicians and persons of distinction, not least of whom was our heroine, who sat upon a blanket spread upon the ground. She was plainly, though richly dressed in blue broad-cloth shawl and leggings. She wore the short skirt, a la Bloomer, and be it known that the females of all Indians we have seen, invariably wear the Bloomer skirt and pants. Their good sense, in this particular, at least, cannot, we think, be too highly commended.”
“Two plumes, warrior feathers, were in her hair; these bore devices, stripes of various colored ribbon pasted on, as all braves have, to indicate the number of the enemy killed, and of scalps taken by the wearer. Her countenance betokened self-possession, and as she sat her fingers played furtively with the haft of a good sized knife.”
“The coterie leaving a large kettle hanging upon the cross-sticks over a fire, in which to cook a fat dog for a feast at the close of the ceremony, soon set off, in single file procession, to visit the camp of the respective chiefs, who remained at their lodges to receive these guests. In the march, our heroine was the third, two leading braves before her. No timid air and bearing were apparent upon the person of this wild-wood nymph; her step was proud and majestic, as that of a Forest Queen should be.”
“The party visited the various chiefs, each of whom, or his proxy, appeared and gave a harangue, the tenor of which, we learned, was to minister to their war spirit, to herald the glory of their tribe, and to exhort the practice of charity and good will to their poor.”
“At the close of each speech, some donation to the beggar’s fun, blankets, provisions, &c., was made from the lodge of each visited chief. Some of the latter danced and sung around the ring, brandishing the war-club in the air and over his head.”
“Chief “LOON’S FOOT,” whose lodge was near the Indian Agents residence, (the latter chief is the brother of Mrs. Judge ASHMAN at the Soo,) made a lengthy talk and gave freely…”
“…An evening’s interview, through an interpreter, with the chief, father of the Princess, disclosed that a small party of Sioux, at a time not far back, stole near unto the lodge of the the chief, who was lying upon his back inside, and fired a rifle at him; the ball grazed his nose near his eyes, the scar remaining to be seen–when the girl seizing the loaded rifle of her father, and with a few young braves near by, pursued the enemy. Two were killed, the heroine shot one, and bore his scalp back to the lodge of NA-NAW-ONG-GA-BE, her father.”
“At this interview, we learned of a custom among the Chippewas, savoring of superstition, and which they say has ever been observed in their tribe. All the youths of either sex, before they can be considered men and women, are required to undergo a season of rigid fasting.”
“If any fail to endure for four days without food or drink, they cannot be respected in the tribe, but if they can continue to fast through ten days it is sufficient, and all in any case required. They have then perfected their high position in life.”
“This Princess fasted ten days without a particle of food or drink; on the tenth day, feeble and nervous from fasting, she had a remarkable vision which she revealed to her friends. She dreamed that at a time not far distant, she accompanied a war party to the Sioux country, and the party would kill one of the enemy, and would bring home his scalp. The war party, as she had dreamed, was duly organized for the start.”
Against the strongest remonstrance of her mother, father, and other friends, who protested against it, the young girl insisted upon going with the party; her highest ambition, her whole destiny, her life seemed to be at stake, to go and verify the prophecy of her dream. She did go with the war party.
“They were absent about ten or twelve days, the had crossed the Mississippi, and been into the Sioux territory. There had been no blood of the enemy to allay their thirst or to palliate their vengeance. They had taken no scalp to herald their triumphant return to their home. The party reached the great river homeward, were recrossing, when lo! they spied a single Sioux, in his bark canoe near by, whom they shot, and hastened exultingly to bear his scalp to their friends at the lodges from which they started. Thus was the prophecy of the prophetess realized to the letter, and herself, in the esteem of all the neighboring bands, elevated to the highest honor in all their ceremonies.”
“They even hold her in superstitious reverence. She alone, of the females, is permitted in all festivities, to associate, mingle and to counsel with the bravest of the braves of her tribe…”
Benjamin Armstrong’s memoir Early Life Among the Indians also includes an account of the warrior daughter of Nenaa’angebi.
In contrast to Morse, the outside observer, Armstrong was married to Buffalo’s niece and was the old chief’s personal interpreter. He lived in this area for over fifty years and knew just about everyone. His memoir, published over 35 years after Hanging Cloud got her fame, contains details an outsider wouldn’t have any way of knowing.
Unfortunately, the details don’t line up very well. Most conspicuously, Armstrong says that Nenaa’angebi was killed in the attack that brought his daughter fame. If that’s true, then I don’t know how Morse was able to record the Rice Lake chief’s speeches the following summer. It’s possible these were separate incidents, but it is more likely that Armstrong’s memories were scrambled. He warns us as much in his introduction.
Some historians refuse to use Armstrong at all because of discrepancies like this and because it contains a good deal of fiction. I have a hard time throwing out Armstrong completely because he really does have the insider’s knowledge that is lacking in so many primary sources about this area. I don’t look at him as a liar or fraud, but rather as a typical northwoodsman who knows how to run a line of B.S. when he needs to liven up a story. Take what you will of it, these are pages 199-202 of Early Life Among the Indians Volume 34679; Reminiscences from the Life of Benj. G. Armstrong Treaties of 1835, 1837, 1842 and 1854 Habits and Customs.
“While writing about chiefs and their character it may not be amiss to give the reader a short story of a chief‟s daughter in battle, where she proved as good a warrior as many of the sterner sex.”
“In the ’50’s there lived in the vicinity of Rice Lake, Wis. a band of Indians numbering about 200. They were headed by a chief named Na-nong-ga-bee. This chief, with about seventy of his people came to La Point to attend the treaty of 1854.”
“After the treaty was concluded he started home with his people, the route being through heavy forests and the trail one which was little used. When they had reached a spot a few miles south of the Namekagon River and near a place called Beck-qua-ah-wong they were surprised by a band of Sioux who were on the warpath and then in ambush, where a few Chippewas were killed, including the old chief and his oldest son, the trail being a narrow one only one could pass at a time, true Indian file. This made their line quite long as they were not trying to keep bunched, not expecting or having any thought of being attacked by their life long enemy.”
“The chief, his son and daughter were in the lead and the old man and his son were the first to fall, as the Sioux had of course picked them out for slaughter and they were killed before they dropped their packs or were ready for war. The old chief had just brought the gun to his face to shoot when a ball struck him square in the forehead. As he fell, his daughter fell beside him and feigned death.”
“At the firing Na-nong-ga-bee’s Band swung out of the trail to strike the flanks of the Sioux and get behind them to cut off their retreat, should they press forward or make a retreat, but that was not the Sioux intention. There was not a great number of them and their tactic was to surprise the band, get as many scalps as they could and get out of the way, knowing that it would be but the work of a few moments, when they would be encircled by the Chippewas.”
“The girl lay motionless until she perceived that the Sioux would not come down on them en-masse, when she raised her father‟s loaded gun and killed a warrior who was running to get her father‟s scalp, thus knowing she had killed the slayer of her father, as no Indian would come for a scalp he had not earned himself.”
“The Sioux were now on the retreat and their flank and rear were being threatened, the girl picked up her father‟s ammunition pouch, loaded the rifle, and started in pursuit. Stopping at the body of her dead Sioux she lifted the scalp and tucked it under her belt. She continued the chase with the men of her band, and it was two days before they returned to the women and children, whom they had left on the trail, and when the brave little heroine returned she had added two scalps to the one she started with.”
“She is now living, or was, but a few years ago, near Rice Lake, Wis., the wife of Edward Dingley, who served in the war of rebellion from the time of the first draft of soldiers to the end of the war. She became his wife in 1857, and lived with him until he went into the service, and at this time had one child, a boy.”
“A short time after he went to the war news came that all the party that had left Bayfield at the time he did as substitutes had all been killed in battle, and a year or so after, his wife, hearing nothing from him, and believing him dead, married again.”
“At the end of the war Dingley came back and I saw him at Bayfield and told him everyone had supposed him dead and that his wife had married another man. He was very sorry to hear this news and said he would go and see her, and if she preferred the second man she could stay with him, but that he should take the boy.”
“A few years ago I had occasion to stop over night with them. And had a long talk over the two marriages. She told me the circumstances that had let her to the second marriage. She thought Dingley dead, and her father and brother being dead, she had no one to look after her support, or otherwise she would not have done so.”
“She related the related the pursuit of the Sioux at the time of her father‟s death with much tribal pride, and the satisfaction she felt at revenging herself upon the murder of her father and kinsmen.”
“She gave me the particulars of getting the last two scalps that she secured in the eventful chase. The first she raised only a short distance from her place of starting; a warrior she espied skulking behind a tree presumably watching for some one other of her friends that was approaching.”
“The other she did not get until the second day out when she discovered a Sioux crossing a river. She said: “The good luck that had followed me since I raised my father‟s rifle did not now desert me,” for her shot had proved a good one and she soon had his dripping scalp at her belt although she had to wade the river after it.”
Angel DeCora Dietz
Born in 1871 on the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, Angel DeCora Dietz was influential in shaping of Indian art and affairs in the early years of the 20th century.
Tegaquitha, “Lily of the Mohawks,” as she was popularly known, was the first recorded Native American Roman Catholic nun in North American.