Indian Education

Utah State Board of Education

Leaders Past and Present

American Indians have had strong leaders and heroes that students should know about. These leaders in past and current times, were men and women who have accomplishments that have influenced the lives of American Indians today.


American Indians have had strong leaders and heroes that students should know about. These leaders in past and current times, were men and women who have accomplishments that have influenced the lives of American Indians today.

This section is additional resource information for teachers and students to add to their knowledge base in studying about American Indians. It is important to acknowledge all people have struggles in life and still succeed. The individual stories will be presented as role models for students. Each story will focus on the impact each person’s leadership had on their tribes and how it relates to today as well as comparison to other non-Indian men and women role models.

Leaders Who Made a Difference in the Past:

ManuelitoChief Manuelito of the Navajo
Manuelito of the Din’eh Navajo tribe.  Hastiim Ch’ilhaajinnii (Man of the Black Plants Place) Bit’aa’nii – Folded Arms People Clan was born in 1818 in the Utah region but moved and lived where his wife’s people lived in the New Mexico and Arizona areas.  Because of growing up near the Utes he spoke both Navajo and Ute fluently.

DodgeAnnie Dodge Wauneka of the Navajo
Annie had a radio show for two years during the time she was a councilwoman. She spoke in Navajo discussing health matters, alcohol abuse and tuberculosis.  She was very instrumental in getting the U.S. Public Health Service and the Navajo Medicine men to work together to understand and appreciate what significance the Navajo Medicine Men were to the people.

WinnamuccaSarah Winnemucca of the Paiute Tribe
When Sarah Winnemucca died in 1891 she had been an activist for her people, an author and worked tirelessly to bridge understanding of two cultures. She wrote and published a book during a time when women were not accepted as authors.

WovakaWovoka of the Paiute Tribe
While Wovoka was a leader of a different type, he gave people reason for hope at a time when tribes were losing their land, their languages, their identities and way of life.  His vision was not that the world would end, but that the dead Indian people would become alive again.

OurayChief Ouray and his wife Chipeta of the Ute Tribe
Chief Ouray worked for better conditions for his people and Chipeta remained his helpmate through the trying times.  Ouray requested that she accompany him to meetings and sit with him at council meetings at a time when it was not usual for women to attend these meetings. She was a help since she spoke Spanish as well as Ouray and that language was often used between the Ute tribes, other tribes and some federal officials.

SacajeweaSacajewa of the Lemhi Shoshone tribe
The story of this young Shoshone woman is near legendary and mysterious.  There is little doubt that she was born into the Indian tribe known as Snake or Shoshone about 1788.  She was captured as a young girl probably age 13 years of age by the Mandan-Hidatsa people and taken into Dakota territory.

Leaders Who Make A Difference Today:

BillisonDr. Sam Billison - Navajo Tribe
When Sam was old enough he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps to fight for his country during World War II.  His weapons were knowledge of his language and the ability to translate Navajo words into an unbreakable code that was used to defeat the Japanese forces in the Pacific.


DannMary Dann - Western Shoshone
Mary Dann, and her sister Carrie, have been in decades-long struggles to retain the right to graze their livestock on their land. They became public figures when the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management tried to enforce the 1863 Treaty of Ruby River.

ParryBruce Parry - Northwestern Band of Shoshone
Because of the effort of Bruce in procuring economic development for the tribe, unemployment is low and the tribe has gained important business contracts which provide economic stability.  Bruce Parry presents a humble but professional attitude in his business dealings and encourages young American Indian students to learn all they can while in school and not to feel they cannot compete in the world of business. 

ParashontTravis Parashont - Cedar Band of Paiute
Travis has always been in leadership in some form.  He has been on the tribal council for 18 years, three years as chair and was instrumental in restoration of the Paiute tribe to federal status. He was also the Executive Director of Indian Affairs for the state of Utah.  He has worked as a social work investigator and CEO of Suh'dutsing Cedar Technologies, LLD which is tribally owned.  He has big moccasins to wear and follow in, but a great example for all people.

TomLora Tom - Paiute Tribe
Lora is currently the chair of the Tribal Leaders in Utah which includes the tribes of Utes, Ibapah Goshutes, Skull Valley Goshutes, Northwestern Band of Shoshone and Paiutes.  Along with the leaders of other tribes, Lora has a great concern that the language of her tribe not be lost.  She is hoping that the elders will volunteer their time to teach the language to their grandchildren, to other children and share their stories. 

HowardHoward Rainer - Taos/Tewa American Indian
Howard Rainer is an accomplished teacher, motivational speaker, poet and photographer.  From such accomplishments in his life, one would think that Howard started life with many rich experiences and financial support and pride.