Famous Native Americans

Ever since settlers first set foot in the Americas, Native Americans have played a major role in American history. Whether they were fighting the Europeans, helping them, or simply contributing to culture through art and service, natives have always been integral members of American history and culture. Throughout the generations, many Native Americans have distinguished themselves above all others and have become legends in their own right. Some were politicians, others were warriors, and some are modern-day celebrities.

Squanto

Hardly anything can be written about early settlement of the Americas without a mention of Tisquantum-- or Squanto as he is more commonly known. When Europeans first came to North American shores, they found a place of both bounty and death. While the land there was abundant with resources, most of the settlers had no idea of how to reap them. Due to this inability to fend for themselves, many of the early settlers simply died from exposure and starvation. Squanto was an integral figure in American history since he was the first to really show European settlers how to live in this new land. He taught settlers how to fish, how to grow local foods, what was safe to eat, and many other skills that were second nature to him. He has since been immortalized by both folklore and historic tales that are taught in American schools to this day.

Sacagawea

Sacagawea came to prominence with her extremely important role in the story of western expansion in the United States. As Lewis and Clark set out on their historic boat voyage to the Pacific Ocean, it became painstakingly clear that they were simply not prepared for the voyage in terms of their knowledge of the area. The woefully under-prepared expedition came upon Sacagawea at her home-village in the 1804, where they spent the winter awaiting the spring thaw. Sacagawea's husband joined the expedition as a trapper, and when it became known that she spoke Shoshone she was brought along as well as an interpreter. Her experience with the geography and languages of the area are seen as being of vital importance to the expedition, securing her place in the annals of American history.

Hiawatha

Hiawatha is perhaps one of the most well-known figures in all of native history. He is especially revered in the eastern woodlands nations as a medicine man and a nation-builder, however he is known throughout the native world as a mystical peacemaker. Much of his life is shrouded in legend, however what is known is that he was an integral figure to the unification of the then-scattered Iroquois tribes. Before his work, the tribes had fragmented to the point of war, causing much pain and bloodshed. Hiawatha used his status to bring leaders from the tribes together, working tirelessly to unite them with peace. His work ultimately succeeded, and resulted in the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations. The Iroquois would go on to become the most powerful Native Americans on the east coast, and their form of governance would have a large impact in how settlers designed their own local governments.

Ben Harper

There are some more contemporary figures that have Native American heritage. Among these contemporary figures is Ben Harper, a very popular solo-act in the music world. Ben Harper has Cherokee ancestry on his father's side. Harper is known as one of the most critically successful "independent" acts of his generation, and has contributed large sums of money to various campaigns to raise social awareness on racial issues. His heritage is actually very mixed, with Jewish and African-American descent in his background as well.