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What roles did Minnesota's Native American chiefs play? And who were some notable ones?

It is a well-known image: A stoic Native American man in ceremonial garb with a feathered headdress. A chief.

That portrait of strength and courage has been memorialized in films and statues, as well as exploited to sell cigarettes and motorcycles. It is a core American cultural stereotype, recently at the center of the most-watched sporting event in American history when the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII.

Rob Robertson, a history buff from Eden Prairie, wanted to know more about Minnesota's chiefs and their roles. He wrote to Curious Minnesota, the Star Tribune's reader-driven reporting project.

I am an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation here in Minnesota. I grew up on the White Earth reservation, and developed pride in my community and the land partly through hearing about these leaders. They felt real and tangible. But there are many misconceptions about Native American chiefs.


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