Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains

Written By: Charles A. Eastman (Ohiye S'a)

Published By: Madison & Adams Press

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


               Years ago, I had read about Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Dakota Native American who was originally raised in the ways of the Dakota Sioux until he was reunited with his father.  His father having converted to Christianity, Charles, then named Ohiye Sía, was sent to mission and preparatory schools to get an education.  He went on to become one of the first Native Americans to be certified as a European style doctor

Though fairly assimilated into the white manís lifestyle, Ohiye Sía never forgot his roots and he eventually began to publish books about them.  One such book, Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, is a provides a brief synopsis of fifteen Native American leaders, such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail, Chief Joseph, Gall, Red Cloud and more.  I have read many books about Native Americans, but I canít remember a single one written solely in a Native Americanís point of view.  I decided to check Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains out, downloading the Kindle version. 

At just 60-plus pages in length, Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains provides only a brief glimpse into the lives of these fifteen great men, but Charles Eastman does his best to give us something personal.  After all, Eastman actually knew some of these individuals.  Some could be counted amongst his friends.  Thus, he knew stories about these individuals that many other authors might not know.  Eastman sought to give us a glimpse into the men before they dealt with the white man and after, expressing both the good and the bad. 

I found the book to be an interesting read, offering some anecdotes about some of the most famous of Native Americans that I had never heard or read before.  That being said, the book felt almost too short, summarizing each manís life in a handful of pagesÖand there were no pictures.  Not that I need pictures, but it would be nice to see the people Eastman was writing about.  Despite that, I think Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains is a great way to introduce the younger generation to Native American history.  After this introduction, they can look into more comprehensive works, but Charles A. Eastmanís book can serve as a great jumping off point.


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