Three Native American Chiefs Who Changed the World

Their stories and their decisions to make a difference in the lives of others.

On August 29, 1877, President Wilford Woodruff completed temple work for 85 Native American Chiefs whose lives changed the world. The following three chiefs are just a few among that group, but their stories will send chills through your soul.

Captain Joseph Brant – Merciful War Chief

As a member of the Mohawk Nation, Joseph Brant’s early life is connected to Sir William Johnson who was one of the most powerful men alive during the American Revolution. Sir William had not only married Captain Brant’s sister but also received hundreds of thousands of acres of land in exchange for his kindness towards the Mohawk Indians. Captain Brant’s trust in Sir William’s recommendation to support the English in the war led to his being known as a powerful enemy of the Revolution, but despite Captain Brant’s reputation of terror, he was one of the most merciful enemies the revolutionaries could have ever hoped for. He spared and even saved the lives of many American captains, families, and individuals. During one particular raid, Captain Brant saw a victim give a Masonic signal and exclaimed, “Brother! you shall not die. I am a Mason and will protect you.” After the war, Captain Brant went on to translate the Gospel of John into the Mohawk language and build the first church in Upper Canada. He was a Native American Chief who valued not only his own life but also the lives of his neighbors.

“No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthy action, but the consciousness of having served his nation.”
– Joseph Brant

King Philip – Protector of the Wampanoags

Seventeen years after the first Thanksgiving celebration with the Puritans, Chief Massasoit brought his two little boys to the governor of Plymouth and requested that they be given English names. The older was named Alexander and the younger, Philip after the ancient king who conquered Illyria, Thrace, and Greece. Ironically, Massasoit’s young Philip would one day attempt to conquer the very people who gave him his fierce name. As a loyalist, King Philip wanted more than anything to sustain the peace that his father had made with the early pilgrims, but the time soon came when the Puritans were more of a threat than an ally to his people. The English were seizing Indian weapons without just cause, taking land for practically nothing, and selling liquor that caused many a hardship on unsuspecting partakers. Any attempt to bring a dishonest white man to justice ended in a court that favored its own Puritan people. King Philip saw that his nation would perish if he did not make a stand against the settlers. His war lead to the destruction of 13 towns and the death of 600 men on the side of the English, but the entirety of the resisting Wampanoag nation was either killed, sold into slavery, or driven to the Far West. King Philip himself was beheaded and cut into pieces while his wife and son were sold into slavery. He was a man who loved his nation more than life itself and died trying to protect his Wampanoag family.

“We want trumpets that sound like thunder, and men to act as though they were going to war with those corrupt and degrading principles that rob one of all rights, merely because he is ignorant, and of a little different color. Let us have principles that will give every one his due; and then shall wars cease, and the weary find rest.”
– William Apess, Eulogy on King Philip

Chief Tecumseh – The Noblest of Men

One day in Tecumseh’s mid-twenties, a few fellow Shawnee Indians challenged him to a hunting competition. Each competitor would have three days to kill as many deer as he could. Tecumseh responded, “I will return here within the period with twice as many deer as any of you.” The hunters returned at the end of the third day having killed 12 and 13 deer, but Tecumseh soon walked into the light of the evening campfire carrying 30 deerskins. The noble Shawnee was an ambitious young man and a friend to anyone he encountered including white settlers. Tecumseh’s life soon took a new path when his brother was directed by the Great Spirit to form a confederation and lead the remaining Native American tribes against the invading American settlers. Four years later, Tecumseh had united at least six tribes and recruited 1,600 warriors to aid the cause.  He initially tried to keep peace by negotiating the return of 60 acres of Native American land along the Wabash river, but after General Harrison denied the request, the negotiation ended with Tecumseh’s promise that his forces would neither capture women or children nor torture any men taken as prisoners of war. The new confederation saw some success, but most of its warriors were killed in an attack by General Harrison while Tecumseh was visiting another tribe. The two war leaders soon met again in the War of 1812. Tecumseh was now a Brigadier General for Great Britain and had a reputation for saving prisoners from harsh treatment and scorning even English generals for unjust conduct.  Tecumseh was courageous and noble to the very end when he was shot just after asking that his sword be given to his son who he loved so dearly.

“Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
– Tecumseh

Fulfilling of the Lord’s Promise to His Covenant People

The Lord has promised that someday the Native Americans shall “know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer… And then at that day will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation?” (1 Nephi 15:14-15)

To create a visual aid that will help teach today’s Native Americans who they are as members of the house of Israel, Michael Bedard is painting A Remnant of the House of Israel – 85 Native American Chiefs. The beautiful piece will depict 85 Six Nations Chiefs observing their baptismal temple work being done in the Saint George Temple; to complete the project, we are trying to raise $4,500 a month and finish before May of 2018. Every little bit makes a difference.


“Eulogy on King Philip Quotes by William Apess.” Goodreads Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.

Johnston, Charles H. L. Famous Indian chiefs; their battles, treaties, sieges, and struggles with the whites for the possession of America. Boston, Page Co. Publishers, 1914.

“Quotes by Joseph Brant.” A-Z Quotes, Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.

“Tecumseh Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.

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