City Indian

Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934

Chicago Stories, 1893-1934



Tsianina Blackstone, c. 1915.

Tsianina Blackstone (Cherokee/Creek): Entertainer, Opera Singer and Activist for American Indian concerns.

Tsianina was the founding President of First Daughters of America, an all female, all Native social welfare group in Chicago. She worked on stage with Charles Wakefield Cadman, a non-Indian composer, and first performed in Chicago as early as 1916 and 1917 at the Ziegfield Theater.


Charles Albert Bender (Chippewa): Hall of Fame Baseball Player and Coach.

Bender, once called by his manager Connie Mack “the greatest money pitcher the game has ever known,” served as pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox in 1925 and 1926, toward the end of his renowned career. He faced racial taunts from fans and the press throughout his career, yet set the highest of standards of athleticism and sportsmanship on the playing field.


Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai): Physician and Activist.

Known as one of the top stomach surgeons in America in the early twentieth century, Montezuma lived in Chicago for more than two decades until just before his death in 1923. He had a respected medical practice on the South Side, regularly hosted delegations and Indian children passing through Chicago by railroad, and published an anti-Indian bureau newspaper, Wassaja. Montezuma wrote prolifically and was recognized as one of the most effective and outspoken critics of U.S. Indian policy.


Scott Henry Peters (Chippewa): Businessman and American Indian organization leader.

Beginning in 1905, Peters lived in Evanston and Wilmette, on Chicago’s North Shore, where he operated a successful business as a tailor. In the 1920s he took over as president of the Grand Council Fire of American Indians where he made forceful efforts to include American Indians in the Chicago educational curriculum. In the 1930s he worked for the Indian Bureau to help “migrating” Indians find jobs in Midwestern cities.


Book Award

Winner of the 2016 Robert G. Ahearn Book Award from the Western History Association.

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