Cover image for The new warriors : Native American leaders since 1900
The new warriors : Native American leaders since 1900
Edmunds, R. David (Russell David), 1939-
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 346 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Introduction : Twentieth-century warriors / R. David Edmunds -- Charles Curtis (Kaw) / William E. Unrau -- Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša) (Dakota) / Deborah Welch -- Robert Yellowtail (Crow) / Frederick E. Hoxie and Tim Bernardis -- Vine V. Deloria, Sr. (Dakota) / Philip J. Deloria -- D'Arcy McNickle (Métis-Flathead) / Dorothy R. Parker -- LaDonna Harris (Comanche) / Gary C. Anderson -- Russell Means (Lakota) / Raymond Wilson -- Howard Tommie (Seminole) / Harry A. Kersey, Jr. -- Phillip Martin (Mississippi Choctaw) / Benton R. White and Christine Schultz White -- Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee) / Brad Agnew -- Ada Deer (Menominee) / Clara Sue Kidwell -- Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) / Donald L. Fixico -- Janine Pease Pretty-on-Top (Crow) / Douglas Nelson and Jeremy Johnston -- Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee) / John R. Wunder.
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E89 .N48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An indispensable introduction to the rich variety of Native leadership in the modern era, The New Warriors profiles Native men and women who have played a significant role in the affairs of their communities and of the nation over the course of the twentieth century. The leaders showcased include the early-twentieth-century writer and activist Zitkala-Sa; American Indian Movement leader Russell Means; political activists Ada Deer and LaDonna Harris; scholar and writer D'Arcy McNick≤ orator and Crow Reservation superintendent Robert Yellowtail; U.S. Senators Charles Curtis and Ben Nighthorse Campbell; Episcopal priest Vine V. Deloria Sr.; Howard Tommie, the champion of economic and cultural sovereignty for the Seminole Tribe of Florida; Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller; Pawnee activist and lawyer Walter Echo-Hawk; Crow educator Janine Pease Pretty-on-Top; and Phillip Martin, a driving force behind the spectacular economic revitalization of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws.

Author Notes

R. David Edmunds is Watson Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of several works, including The Shawnee Prophet , and the editor of American Indian Leaders: Studies in Diversity (Nebraska 1980), both available in Bison Books editions.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The dawn of the 20th century found Native Americans in dire straits. Ill educated, reduced to living on territory that was a fraction of their former areas, and subject to the whims of the federal government, they were in great need of creative leadership. In this collection, editor Edmunds (history, Univ. of Texas, Dallas; Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership) and his equally competent contributors tell the stories of 14 Native Americans who have altered the landscape in Indian country and beyond. The leaders profiled here include, among others, the charismatic American Indian Movement leader Russell Means; Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to lead a large Indian nation; political activists LaDonna Harris and Ada Deer; Phillip Martin, the dynamic Choctaw leader who spearheaded that tribe's amazing economic revitalization; and Walter Echo-Hawk, a lawyer for the Native American Rights Fund. In very different ways, these individuals have all played a role in making today's "new Indian" possible. This volume provides more in-depth biographies on these contemporary leaders than other sources. Recommended for all levels. Mary B. Davis, American Craft Council, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Edmunds (history, Univ. of Texas at Dallas) has filled a gap in Indian Studies by assembling a dozen scholarly biographies of 20th-century American Indian leaders. Sources of information about contemporary leaders are scarce. Many Americans therefore assume that the only Indian leaders worth knowing about are from the past, like Seattle, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull. Robert Yellowtail, Howard Tommie, Phillip Martin, Jeanine Pease Pretty-On-Top, and Wilma Mankiller excelled as modern tribal leaders. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Ada Deer, LaDonna Harris, Walter Echo-Hawk, Vine Deloria Sr., and Zitkala-Sa have played pan-Indian roles on the national stage and have helped shape Indian policy. The inclusion of Charles Curtis (Kaw) is an anomaly that allows readers to ponder issues of identification, as Curtis wrote an infamous assimilation legislation act and embraced the ideal of assimilation. Indians and non-Indians alike will benefit from learning about modern heroes. Although the title is hokey, the authors generally avoid hagiography. Recommended for Indian Studies collections at the postsecondary level and for community libraries. G. Gagnon University of North Dakota



Chapter One Charles Curtis Kaw BY WILLIAM E. UNRAU Few Indians who rose to national prominence were born in a more unsettled political and social environment than Charles Curtis, a mixed-blood member of the Kaw (or Kansa) tribe. Born on 25 January 1860, in Eugene (North Topeka), Kansas Territory, to Ellen Pappan Curtis, a quarter-blood Kaw and Oren A. Curtis, a non-Indian, Curtis was raised in a setting where outbursts of violence over slavery and the political future of what is now Kansas prompted eastern journalists and politicians to call the territory "Bleeding Kansas." That tension, followed by a striking growth in the Kansas economy during and after the Civil War and a burgeoning of the Kansas Republican Party in the wake of statehood (29 January 1861), would have a dramatic influence on the development of Charles Curtis's social, political, and economic values.     Since the mid-1830s, the area west of Missouri had been a focal point of the government's policy of tribal concentration, and after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Kansas emerged as a region of brazen exploitation where white farmers, land speculators, railroad corporations, town promoters, and myriad squatters of diverse political persuasions contested for control of the region in defiance of federal law. Such lawlessness also loomed in the education and acculturation of the young mixed-blood, whose family had been leading members of the Kaw tribe from its earliest recorded contacts with white Americans.     Centuries before, when Europeans first arrived in the Western Hemisphere, Curtis's Kaw forebears resided in the lower Ohio Valley and were part of a Hopewellian group ethnologists have termed the Dhegihan-Siouans. Also included in this group were relatives of the modern Omaha, Osage, Ponca, and Quapaw tribes. Sometime prior to 1673--the year Pére Jacques Marquette recorded the Dhegian-Siouan presence west of the Mississippi River--the Quapaws moved down the Mississippi while the other tribes journeyed to the mouth of the Missouri and then up that river where further divisions took place between present St. Louis and Kansas City. The Omahas and the Poncas established their villages in southeastern Nebraska; the Osages traveled up the Osage River to modern Vernon County, Missouri.     The Kaws took the middle road to the mouth of the Kansas River (near the present site of Kansas City) and then west up the Kansas Valley until the Pawnees turned them back at the mouth of the Blue River. By the time the United States had purchased the area from France in 1803, Curtis's distant relatives claimed roughly the northern three-fifths of future Kansas as their domain, a claim that was officially recognized by the United States in the Kansa (Kaw) Treaty of 1825.     That same treaty reduced the Kaw domain from twenty million acres to an area less than half that amount west of the future site of North Topeka. The treaty also included an article that granted 64o-acre sections in fee simple to each of the twenty-three half-bloods of the Kaw tribe--one of whom was Curtis's maternal grandmother, Julie Gonville Pappan. The government justified the provision on grounds that the owners of these half-blood tracts would abandon gardening and hunting in favor of commercial agriculture and thus serve as models for their less acculturated kinsmen. This proved not to be the case. In fact the agreement was divisive in the extreme. Most of the half-bloods were minors who in 1825 did not reside on the tribal reservation west of North Topeka. In fact these fertile and well-timbered tracts along the Kansas River became the objects of intense speculation by white land-jobbers and provided the future vice president with good reason to question supposed harmonious relations between Indians and non-Indians in Indian Country.     Curtis was aware that his own family reflected a blending of ethnic, tribal, and religious diversity common to the American frontier. Curtis's great-great-grandfather, White Plume (Nompawarah), whom he later described as "one of the ablest and most progressive Indians of his day," was one of the leading chiefs who signed the Kansa Treaty. In about 1800 White Plume married a daughter of Pawhuska, the celebrated Osage chief, and their union produced several children. One of White Plume's daughters, Wyhesse (Waisjasi), married Louis Gonville, a French-Canadian fur trader from St. Louis; their marriage was confirmed in a Catholic ceremony in late 1817 or early 1818. Julie, a daughter born to this union, married Louis Pappan, a fur trader from St. Louis who with his brother Joseph (who married Julie's sister Josette) established a ferry service on the Kansas River at the site of future Topeka. There, in 1840, Charles Curtis's mother was born in a log cabin situated on "Kaw Mile Three," the allotment that the Treaty of 1825 granted her sister Josette.     Whether by her own decision or that of her parents, young Ellen was sent to a Catholic convent in St. Louis. But as she approached legal maturity her interest in the 640-acre tract granted to her mother in 1825 prompted her to return to Kansas Territory, where in 1859 she married Oren A. Curtis, an emigrant from Eugene, Indiana, who had secured employment in her father's ferry business at North Topeka.     On 25 January 1860, the future vice president of the United States was born in a crude cabin on his grandmother's allotment. The young Curtis received Catholic baptism at St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Church on the nearby Potawatomi reservation. During the next three years Ellen raised Curtis and taught him English and French, since she had received training in the latter while in the convent in St. Louis. Evidence suggests that Curtis's parents intended to raise their son at their home near modern Topeka, well removed from the traditional culture of his blood relatives on the Kaw reservation some sixty miles to the west.     But in 1863 Charles's mother died, and his father faced the unexpected task of raising the young boy alone. Moreover, shortly following his wife's death, Oren Curtis obtained an appointment in the Union Army in Kansas, and his duties as an officer required that he be absent from his home. Oren Curtis placed Charles with his parents, William and Permelia Hubbard Curtis, who had followed their son from Indiana to Kansas. William Hubbard soon became involved in attempts to promote the development of a town on the Pappan family's allotment, while his wife--a stern homemaker who believed that "being Methodist and a Republican [were] essential for anyone expected to go to heaven"--saw to it that young Charles was diverted from "pagan Indian culture and the Catholic heresy" of his deceased mother in favor of Methodist doctrine and Republican Party ideals so fashionable in Kansas during and after the Civil War.     Three years later, in 1866, Charley (as he was now called) was sent to live with his maternal grandmother on the Kaw reservation, near Council Grove. Talk of a Kaw removal treaty and final settlement of land claims in Kansas offered the possibility of financial disbursements to individual tribal members living on the reservation. It is possible that Julie Pappan was determined to have her grandson share in the bounty if in fact a treaty was negotiated. There is the possibility also that Julie was opposed to the rigid social and religious values of Permelia Curtis and wanted Charley to learn more about his Indian heritage. In any case, the young mixed-blood's environment at Council Grove was more relaxed and certainly in dire contrast to the stern will and rigid Methodism of his white grandmother in Topeka.     Life for young boys on the Kaw reservation was a mixture of leisure activities such as fishing, foot-racing, and horseback riding, coupled with more serious endeavors such as hunting with bow and arrow or with a lance, and preparing for the vision-quest that would signify advancement from adolescence to manhood. Charley adjusted well to reservation life and quickly displayed unusual skill in horseback riding--a skill that he soon put to practical purpose in the burgeoning horse-racing business of frontier Kansas. By all accounts, Charley enjoyed his life with his maternal grandmother but his residency on the Kaw reservation was cut short by old tribal quarrels that originated long before Charlie had been born.     For more than half a century relations between the Kaws and the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos had deteriorated, mainly over the dwindling bison supply on the high plains of western Kansas. In the winter of 1866 the Cheyennes stole forty-two horses from a Kaw hunting party on the upper Arkansas, and following a murder of a Kaw herder at a buffalo camp near Fort Zarah a year later, the Kaws attacked a Cheyenne encampment, killing fourteen and losing only one of their own. The death of sixty starving Kaw warriors in bitterly cold weather during the retreat back to Council Grove severely depleted the Kaw's military strength and led to a near panic in the Kaw villages, particularly when it was rumored that the Cheyennes were planning a counterattack on the reservation at Council Grove. The "attack" came on 3 June 1868, when approximately one hundred Southern Cheyennes fired a few scattered shots at the Kaw Agency Headquarters. No one was killed or injured; the entire affair lasted less than four hours. The Cheyennes gained some booty from outlying white farms but had to pay for it out of annuities granted them in the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867.     Like other young boys on the reservation, Charley was unaware of the events leading up to the attack. For him the minor attack was a harrowing experience; in later years he never wearied of relating the trying circumstances under which he returned to the home of his paternal grandparents in Topeka. There were many variations to his story, but the high points were that because he could speak good English, because he was an expert runner, and because his people were besieged on their reservation (no horses were available for the journey to Topeka), the chief of the Kaws entrusted him with the responsibility of seeking help from the white man some sixty miles to the east. But the facts are that, under orders from Kaw Indian agent E. S. Stover and tribal leaders, Charley made the journey to Topeka accompanied by Little Chief Joe Jim (Kyhegashinga), who served as the government interpreter for the Kaws and who was a trusted friend of Charley's Indian grandmother.     Charley never returned to the Kaw reservation and, so far as is known, had few contacts with Indians until elected to Congress in 1892. Once again he took up residence with his white grandparents--this time in the hamlet of Eugene (soon to be renamed North Topeka), located on a parcel of Kaw half-blood land William Curtis had only recently purchased from Julie Pappan. The town site was on the proposed route of the Union Pacific, Eastern Division Railroad, directly across the Kansas River from Topeka proper, where William Curtis also built a hotel, saloon, livery stable, and racetrack. The track became a popular attraction, especially for young Charley, who with not a little experience riding Indian ponies on the Council Grove reservation soon became an expert jockey. In fact, by the early 1870s he was winning more than his share of races at county fairs in Kansas, Texas, and the Indian Territory, and seemed content to live out his life near his paternal grandparents in Topeka.     In 1872 the Kaws relinquished their 250,000-acre reservation near Council Grove in exchange for a 100,000-acre tract in Indian Territory, just south of the Kansas border. In the following year most of the Kaws from the Council Grove reservation moved to their new lands, which were located at the confluence of Beaver Creek and the Arkansas River. Charley's name remained on the tribal roll, and in 1874 members of the Kaw tribe contacted him, asking him to also move to the new reservation. Charley refused. During the previous fall (1873) he had enrolled at Topeka High School. Moreover, he continued to ride in horse races at county fairs on weekends, and he enjoyed both the races and the prize money that he won.     Yet other factors also kept him in Kansas. In 1873 his grandfather, William Curtis, died suddenly and Charley was forced to help support his grandmother. To augment her income he sold apples and peanuts at the North Topeka railroad station, and worked as a hack driver and bookkeeper in the evening and on weekends during the winter. During the summer of 1874 he returned to the racetrack, mainly in eastern Kansas, Council Grove, and Wichita. Then came what Curtis termed a pivotal event in his life, one that by his own admission loomed large in his development as an American and an Indian.     In the fall of 1874, accompanied by several other tribal members, Louis and Julie Pappan journeyed to Topeka to visit their grandson as well as other friends and relatives residing on the nearby Potawatomi reservation. Disheartened by his labors as a depot vender, hack driver, and bookkeeper, Charlie remembered his carefree days among the Kaws on the old Council Grove reservation and listened longingly to descriptions of life on the new lands in Indian Territory. In addition, Curtis later recalled that "the men folks of the tribe induced me to go to their reservation," reminding him that "under an old treaty provision the government was issuing free rations to all members of the tribe."     Envisioning a life free from some of the responsibilities that now seemed to overwhelm him, the fourteen-year-old Curtis packed his few belonging in a flour sack, saddled his brown mare, and without even stopping to consult with his grandmother he left home and rode to Six Mile Creek, south of Topeka, where the Kaws were camped while visiting their relatives. But there his other grandmother intervened. As in most tribal societies, grandmothers are respected and revered for their wisdom. Julie Pappan called Charley to her wagon and asked him why he wanted to rejoin the tribe. When Charley recounted that the Kaw men who were part of the visiting party had admonished him for remaining in Topeka, his grandmother: "told me what I might expect on the Indian Reservation and that I would likely become like most of the men on it; that I would have no schooling, would put in my time riding racehorses or ponies, and become a reservation man with no future, and that if I ever expected to make anything out of myself I should return to Topeka and start school again." Curtis continues, "I took her advice.... No man or boy ever received better advice. It was the turning point in my life."     Consequently, although Curtis temporarily remained on the Kaw tribal roll, as he moved from adolescence to adulthood he moved more permanently into the white world. He remained with his widowed grandmother, whose dedication to Republican conservatism had a profound impact on the young man. Permelia insisted that Charley complete his public school education, encouraged him to seek additional part-time jobs, and made sure that he understood that the Republican Party had won the Civil War, that the anti-black and anti-Indian sentiments of the Democrats were proof of that party's demagogy, and that the Methodist Church was the bastion of everything decent in Kansas and the nation.     Following high school Curtis read law with A. H. Case, a prominent Topeka attorney, and in 1881--the year that the Kansas prohibition amendment went into effect--he was admitted to the Kansas Bar. He also became active in state and local politics and gave notice of his ambition for public office and his commitment to the Republican Party. William Allen White concluded that the Kaw mixed-blood was a regular Republican "by inheritance," and quite an attractive politician at that: "He was handsome, slight, with the jockey's litheness, with affectionate, black, caressing eyes that were hard to forget; with a fine olive skin, and a haymow of black hair and a curling mustache. Add to that a gentle, ingratiating voice, an easy flow of innocuous conversation unimpeded by pestiferous ideas, and you have a creature God-sent into politics." Thus in 1884 he was elected Shawnee County Attorney, one of the youngest men to hold such an office in the Jayhawk State. In the meantime, from Julie Pappan he inherited a parcel of land in North Topeka that was exempt from the Kansas prohibition law because of federal trustee regulations dating back to the Kansa Treaty of 1825. He sold several large lots to a distillery and a brewer who then produced the very commodities needed by bootleggers to contend with the Kansas prohibition law. But to the surprise of most Republicans and certainly all "resubmissionist" Democrats, within a few weeks after taking office Curtis closed the door of virtually every illicit bar in Shawnee County even though he personally did not favor prohibition.     The consequence was dramatic. Here was a person of humble origins who could support a law contrary to his personal beliefs, and more important, a dedicated politician who had demonstrated that personal sacrifice and individual performance were not beyond the grasp of an Indian whose ancestors had been dispossessed by the very society the Topeka mixed-blood now was taking by political storm.     Not surprisingly, then, "Our Charley" Curtis became the darling of the Republican Party, and given what William Allen White insisted were his emotional but simplistic political tactics that included a "bloody shirt" speech on the Civil War accompanied by a plea to "vote the way you shot"; a mindless, indeed incomprehensible appeal for higher tariffs; "and a very carefully poised straddle on the currency question," which Curtis "knew little about and cared absolutely nothing for," he was easily elected to Congress in 1892. During the next four decades, accompanied by what his detractors called his inherent talent to manipulate the political system from behind the scenes, his rise to the most distinguished position in the U.S. Senate and then to the second highest office in the land was short of phenomenal.     Curtis's initial election to Congress was a testament to his hand-shaking energy and skill in getting to know his constituents at a personal, human, level. He carried a book with the names, occupations, and personal relations of virtually every family in every township in the Kansas Fourth District, and his dramatic victory over the Populist candidate John G. Otis in the same year that Kansas supported Populist James B. Weaver for the presidency, attracted national attention. Some attributed his success to the fact that he was French, Indian, and American at a time when census data indicated that the Native American population was rapidly nearing its nadir or, in more literary terms, when the "Vanishing American" epithet appeared to be reaching demographic fulfillment.     Still others viewed Curtis's political success in terms of his tribal ancestry and the prowess they felt was a characteristic of Native Americans. Following his dramatic 1892 victory, the Kaw mixed-blood easily won consecutive terms to the House until the Kansas legislature elevated him to the Senate in 1907. While his success obviously was the result of his ability to campaign effectively and to respond to his constituents' concerns--farm issues, veterans pensions, monetary matters, and the concerns of railroad corporations and the petroleum industry in the Jayhawk state--one commentator nevertheless concluded: "Although slightly less than one-quarter Indian, Curtis might from his features and swarthy skin, be taken for a full-blood. `The Indian' he has been called, sometimes in hate, sometimes in admiration, throughout his political career. `Beat the Indian' was the battle cry in many a hard-fought campaign. But it was not enough to beat the Indian who has just reached a dominating place in Kansas politics. Curtis has the wily persistence and dogged determination in a fight that marks him a true son (Continues...) Excerpted from The New Warriors by . Copyright © 2001 by University of Nebraska Press. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.