Famous Indians of the Old West



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wiki commons

About This Quiz

In the Old West, European Americans both respected and feared many of the Native Americans they encountered. How much do you know about the most famous Indians of the West?

In his 40s, Black Elk converted to which religion?

Black Elk's first wife converted to Catholicism … and in his 40s, he followed suit. It's likely, however, that he merely pretended to accept the white man's religion in order to fit into the changing world.


Red Cloud's warring skills helped press the U.S. into giving his people which famous territory?

In 1868, Red Cloud's people signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie. In the treaty, the U.S. agreed to give Indians the Black Hills, an area of significant cultural importance.


Sitting Bull's vision about dead white soldiers preceded which famous event?

Sitting Bull told his tribe that he saw white soldiers falling into their camp. The tribe felt that this was a sign that an Indian victory was sure to follow, and they were right. The warriors defeated Gen. Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.


Wovoka reignited the Ghost Dance movement. What's the Ghost Dance?

Wovoka inspired a Ghost Dance movement, a religious movement within Indian communities. The Ghost Dance gatherings gave hope to Indians who wanted to return to traditional ways … without the presence of white people on their lands.


Sitting Bull wound up on an Indian reservation. Why did the authorities try to arrest him in 1890?

U.S. authorities were worried that Sitting Bull might use his influence to spark an uprising. They sent in men to arrest the medicine man, but during a physical confrontation, two Native American policemen shot and killed Sitting Bull.


Red Cloud successfully fought the U.S. for years but still ended up on a reservation.

Although Red Cloud managed to fight the U.S. for years, he did end up living on a reservation. He also became a successful diplomat and worked to help Indians adjust to life in the white man's world.


Chief Joseph and his people wanted to escape U.S. authorities. Where did they flee?

The chief and his followers gathered what they could and went north, hoping to find sanctuary in Canada. U.S. troops were hot on their heels, and the tribe rushed through the mountains of Montana in hopes of finding freedom.


Black Elk was a legendary medicine man with the Sioux Indians. He was related to which other famous Indian?

Black Elk was a second cousin to Crazy Horse. Black Elk was born in 1863; Crazy Horse died in 1877.


Geronimo was one of the most famous Indians of the Old West. He was part of which tribe?

Geronimo is still one of the best-known Indians from the Wild West. He was an Apache, a tribe that had great power in the Southwest.


Geronimo was known for what skill?

Geronimo was known as a cunning fighter. He launched many successful raiding parties against settlers and soldiers.


For years, Geronimo fought white forces as they settled the West. How did he die?

The great leader spent the final years of his life as a prisoner of war, but he made numerous public appearances as a tourist attraction of sorts. He died in a hospital in 1909 at the age of 79.


Sitting Bull was a famous Lakota Indian. What role did he have in his tribe?

Sitting Bull was a legendary Lakota medicine man. He reportedly had a vision in which he foresaw the deaths of many white soldiers.


Crazy Horse was a Lakota leader. Why did he decide to fight the United States?

Westward expansion displaced countless Native Americans. Crazy Horse gathered his men and decided to fight back for their land and their way of life.


Crazy Horse led a suicidal charge against U.S. calvary and died in battle.

In the late 1870s, Crazy Horse and his men surrendered. They were rounded up and sent to the Red Cloud Agency in western Nebraska.


After surrendering, Crazy Horse lived on a reservation. How did he die?

Crazy Horse was only on the reservation for a few months when there was a confrontation with U.S. guards. During a melee, he was stabbed to death with a bayonet, supposedly while fighting against a guard.


Chief Joseph was a leader of which tribe?

Chief Joseph was a leader of the Nez Perce. In 1877, he gained fame for leading his people on a desperate flight from U.S. soldiers.


Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce had hoped to reach Canada to find safety with which famous person?

The Nez Perce had hoped to join Sitting Bull in Canada and be rid of the American soldiers pursuing them. But the soldiers caught up to them and forced the exhausted Indians to surrender after a terrible five-day battle.


Before surrendering, Chief Joseph and his people evaded soldiers for three months. How far did they travel in that time?

The Nez Perce fled nearly 1,200 miles through remote and unforgiving mountain terrain. They fought off their U.S. pursuers for months but finally surrendered to exhaustion … and heartbreak.


Black Elk grew up on the plains of South Dakota. Why did he journey to England in the 1880s?

Black Elk became part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a touring group that put on dramatic Wild West shows around the world. Black Elk became part of the group and traveled much of Europe.


Why did Geronimo despise the Mexican army?

The Mexican army killed Geronimo's family, including his mother, wife and children.


In one battle with Mexican soldiers, Geronimo charged into a cloud of bullets. Then what did he do?

Who needs guns when you're armed with revenge? Geronimo flung himself through Mexican bullets, whipped out a knife and killed several soldiers. It was the beginning of his legend.


In 1866, a Lakota Sioux chief named Red Cloud decided to do what?

In 1866, Red Cloud decided to fight back against U.S. Army aggression. His fight became known as Red Cloud's War. The battles were mostly small raids and skirmishes, but they helped the Indians retake control of large swaths of territory.


Wovoka was a famous Indian leader who became known as what?

Wovoka was a Pauite leader who eventually took the name Jack Wilson. A white rancher's wife gave him the name, which was useful when Wovoka communicated with white settlers.


To many in the Native American world, Wovoka was essentially _____?

In the late 1800s, many Indians saw Wovoka as a prophet who envisioned the coming of a new age. One in which Indians reclaimed their lands and drove out European Americans.


Cochise was a famous Apache man. He was known for ____?

Cochise was a ferocious Apache warrior who led his men into numerous successful battles against U.S. soldiers. He was known as a large and intimidating man.


Cochise led his men into the Battle of Apache Pass. But they were forced to retreat when the U.S. soldiers unveiled which weapon?

U.S. troops brought in heavy artillery and began shelling enemy positions. Cochise and his warriors had no choice but to flee.


In 1871, a U.S. general was ordered to capture Cochise. What happened?

Cochise spent years striking whites in raids. But he was eventually forced to surrender, and he moved to the Chiricahua reservation.


Mangas Coloradas was a chief in which tribe?

Mangas Coloradas was a famous Apache chief. In the mid-1800s, he led many successful raids against both U.S. and Mexican interests.


In 1846, Mangas Coloradas decided to grant U.S. soldiers safe passage through Apache lands. Why?

Mangas Coloradas opted to let U.S. soldiers use Apache land, but only because the Americans were fighting the Mexicans. And the Apaches really, really hated the Mexicans.


Mangas Coloradas was a famed Indian leader. How did he die?

Mangas Coloradas was betrayed by U.S. soldiers. He was arrested, tortured and killed. Then the soldiers decapitated his body, boiled his head and mailed his skull to a pseudoscientist in the East for further study.


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