Recognizing famous Native Americans

Julianna Poe, Sports Editor

In 1992, exactly 500 years after Christopher Columbus knocked on the New Land’s doors, Indigenous People’s Day emerged to counter-celebrate Columbus Day.

Due to the fact that Columbus is not the “founder” of America, but rather the Native Americans, Indigenous People’s Day was born. Officially, only four states — South Dakota, Vermont, Minnesota and Alaska — recognize this holiday. Remember to mark this coming Monday on the calendar and take a moment to honor just a few of our famous Native Americans in celebration. 


  • Squanto (1581-1622): When the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth, Squanto taught them how to catch fish, grow a successful crop and survive the harsh winter. Additionally, through his learned English, he assisted in establishing a treaty between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims.
  • Pocahontas (1595-1617): As the daughter of the Powhatan tribe’s chief, Pocahontas saved Captain John Smith of Jamestown’s life by volunteering herself to be executed in place of him. She continued to keep nearby citizens safe by warning them of approaching attacks from her father.
  • Sequoyah (1767-1843): All on his own, Sequoyah invented the Cherokee written language and alphabet.
  • Black Hawk (1767-1838): In the War of 1812, Sauk tribes’ chief Black Hawk led his warriors into battle against British forces.
  • Sacagawea (1788-1812): Sacagawea guided explorers Lewis and Clark on their successful two-year expedition — from 1894 to 1806 — to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Sitting Bull (1831-1890): In the Battle of Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull led warriors from the Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Lakota tribes into a battle that left no mercy on lieutenant colonel George Armstrong Custer’s army. This defeat is best-known as Custer’s Last Stand.
  • Jim Thorpe (1888-1953): Thorpe was a star player — considered one of the greatest athletes in history — in basketball, baseball and football. In 1912, he won two Olympic Gold Medals in the pentathlon and decathlon.