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Famous Native Americans

QUESTION: Who are some famous Native Americans?


Famous Native Americans are numerous, so we have selected a few to share with you. Please visit your local library to further your research in this important subject.

Russell Means
Russell Means, born into the Lakota Nation at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on November 10, 1939, was the first National Director of AIM (American Indian Movement). His activism on behalf of the American Indian began in the late 1960s. He was part of the occupation of Alcatraz Island and Wounded Knee (1973) which brought attention to the broken promises and treaties with American Indians.

He ran for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in 1988. Since 1990, he has acted in such movies as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Pocahontas,” and “Natural Born Killers.” His autobiography, “Where White Men Fear to Tread” was published in 1995.

He and his wife, Pearl continue their efforts to make society aware of the American Indian by working with the Lakota Immersion School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota.

Grahame Greene
Graham Greene, a full-blooded Oneida, was born at the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. He gained fame as Kicking Bird in “Dances with Wolves” (1990). He was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for this performance. Other movies that he has appeared in are “Revolution” (1985), “Running Brave” (1983) and “Powwow Highway” (1989). He also appeared in “Where the Spirit Lives” (1990) for PBS’ “American Playhouse”, the HBO movie “The Last of His Tribe” (1992) and in Michael Apted’s “Thunderheart” (1992).

Ben Nighthorse Campbell
A U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1993 until 2005, Ben Nighthorse Campbell was, for a time, the only Native American serving in the U.S. Congress. He was a U.S. Representative from 1987 to 1993.

He served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea from 1951-1953, and received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and fine arts from San Jose State University in 1957 as well as attending Meiji University in Tokyo. Campbell was a self-employed jewelry designer, rancher, and trainer of champion quarter horses.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell was a leader in public lands and natural resources policy. He helped pass landmark legislation to settle Indian water rights. Campbell was in the forefront of sponsoring legislation to protect Colorado wilderness as well.

The National Museum of the American Indian in the Smithsonian Institution and treatment programs to battle Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are two issues that he has championed.

Ira Hamilton Hayes
Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian, was born on January 12, 1923. Ira Hayes joined the Marine Corps in World War II.

In the beginning of 1945, he was part of the American invasion of Iwo Jima, and helped to raise the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 to signal the end of Japanese control. He was disillusioned by the publicity surrounding this event.

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