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Who are some famous Native Americans?

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Quick Answer

Four famous Native Americans are Jim Thorpe, Maria Tallchief, Wilma Mankiller and Louise Erdrich. Other famous Native Americans include Chief Dan George, Jay Silverheels, Shania Twain, Sherman Alexie, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Sampson.

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Full Answer

Jim Thorpe (1888-1953) was an Olympic athlete and during his time was considered one of the greatest athletes in the world. He competed in the 1912 Olympics and won the decathlon and the pentathlon. He was later stripped of his medals when it was determined that he had played professional baseball. He was born near Prague, Oklahoma, and was a descendant of Chief Black Hawk. Thorpe's Indian name was Wa-Tho-Huk, which means "Bright Path."

Maria Tallchief (1925-2013) was a ballerina. She was married to choreographer George Balanchine and danced for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the New York City Ballet. She was an Osage Indian and was the first Native American to be a prima ballerina. Tallchief's sister Marjorie was also a ballerina.

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010) was the first woman to become chief of the Cherokee Nation. Like Jim Thorpe and Maria Tallchief, she was born in Oklahoma. She held office from 1985 to 1995.

Louise Erdrich (born 1954) is a writer of Chippewa descent, born in Minnesota. Her novels cover many aspects of Native American life.

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