Native American Superheroes: #6-#10

Don’t Call Them Indians

Naagloshii:Old spirit caller. The failed guardian of a dead people. I do not fear you.”
Listens-To-Wind:Maybe you should. The boy almost took you and he doesn’t even know the Diné, much less the Old Ways.
Naagloshii:You are not a holy man. You do not follow the Blessing Way. You have no power over me.
Listens-To-Wind:Don’t plan to bind or banish you, Old Ghost. Just gonna kick your ass up between your ears. Let’s go.

The Dresden Files: Turn Coat

Native American superheroes have gotten better representation in recent years. Originally stereotypes like Apache Chief or under-used side characters, some have stepped into the spotlight. The New Mutants starred Blu Hunt as the Cheyenne hero Mirage. Fox’s The Gifted featured Blair Redford’s Apache hero Thunderbird as a major character.

We’ve already counted down the Top 5 Native American Superheroes, but there are plenty more where they came from. Join us as we rank the next five. Who made the list? Let’s find out.

#10 Manitou Raven

Played by: n/a
Nation: Apache

Manitou Raven:I am… troubled by what I’ve seen, both in the future, and here. The world of the beast is terrible to behold. Loud, smelly, and so cold… But here, in the world outside my own land, Knights sacrifice children to feed their gods… Men are kept as slaves. Death is dealt often, without reason, and rarely with gratitude to the Great Spirit.

JLA #70

Apache Chief is one of the most famous of the Native American Superheroes, but also problematic due to his stereotypical appearance and mannerisms. Many writers have tried to re-invent the character in a more positive way. They eventually succeeded with Long Shadow, but their first attempt was Manitou Raven.

Manitou Raven lived in Atlantis eons ago. He and his wife, Manitou Dawn, were part of a group that eventually evolved into the Apache Nation although the word Manitou is Algonquian, not Apache. Either way, Raven was an expert mystic who called upon gods and spirits for power through the invocation “Inukchuk.”

Manitou Raven was one of the first members of The League of Ancients, Atlantis’ premier superhero team. The team’s leader manipulated one of Raven’s visions to show The Justice League destroying the world. Raven travelled to the future to kill the Justice League, but soon discovered the truth. Manitou Raven and Dawn decided to stay in the future and join the Justice League as penance.

The future didn’t suit Manitou Raven well. The rites necessary for his spells and his brutal fighting style seemed almost villainous from a modern perspective. Even worse, he soon discovered that his wife was having an affair with Green Arrow. Manitou Raven died soon after his introduction, sacrificing his life to save Green Arrow. Raven may not be Apache Chief, but he certainly proved to be the bigger man.

#9 Puma

Played by Dee Dee Baker
Nation: Puebloan

Puma: “It’s their own fault! They shouldn’t have entered the reservation and slaughtered those animals. As the guardian of my tribe, it is my duty to punish them, and I will!

The Amazing Spider-Man #256

He’s rarely left his comic book confines, but The Puma has made our list of the top five Native American Superheroes.

Many know Thomas Fireheart as the CEO of Fireheart Industries. He is also secretly a chosen one destined to save the world from an omnipotent being called The Beyonder. His Puebloan ancestors learned of a prophecy that told of the Beyonder’s coming and began a eugenics campaign to create the ultimate warrior. 

Ten generations of breeding and magical rituals begat Thomas, who had superhuman strength, agility, senses, and the ability to transform into a half man/half puma. Fireheart became a mercenary called Puma, using his powers to fight crime or assassinate victims. Puma doesn’t care which he’s doing as long as it benefits his tribe.

Puma met his match when he tried assassinating Spider-Man. They stalemated, but Puma backed off after seeing Spider-Man saving innocent bystanders. The pair have since shared an uneasy peace, sometimes working together and sometimes fighting.

Puma finally met his destined enemy in the series Secret Wars II. His ancestors’ rituals activated and gave him strength equal to The Beyonder. Unfortunately, Spider-Man interrupted the fight and gave The Beyonder a chance to escape.

#8 Johnny Cloud: the Navajo Ace

Played by: n/a
Nation: Navajo

Johnny Cloud:Ask my family and they’ll tell you I was a Navajo. Ask the Army Air Force and they’ll say I was an American. But if you ask my brothers, they’ll set you straight: John Cloud was a Loser.

DC: The New Frontier

You don’t need superpowers to be a Native American Superhero. All you need is skill, cunning, courage, and a strong sense of justice. The Navajo ace Johnny Cloud has all of these traits in spades.

A Navajo couple was contemplating their newborn’s name and witnessed a cloud in the form of a horse riding Navajo flying through a lightning storm. They named their child Flying Cloud to honor the vision. The omen would appear frequently throughout Flying Cloud’s life, leading him to name it “Big-Brother-In-The-Sky.”

Flying Cloud joined the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He dealt with prejudiced allies who derisively nicknamed him “Chief” and “Johnny Cloud.” Despite the jeering, Flying Cloud earned his unit’s respect for his fighter pilot skills. The nicknames became terms of endearment. The unit even re-named itself as “The Happy Braves” out of respect.

Johnny Cloud was one of several WWII heroes assembled for an elite black-ops unit called The Losers that conducted sabotage and assassination missions behind Axis lines. There are many conflicting stories of The Losers’ final mission, but most of them end with Johnny Cloud as the last to fall.

#7 Speedy

Played by Colton Haynes and Mike Erwin
Nation: Navajo

Chief:Sometimes I dream of you with envy, Red-Haired-Pale-One. You are what so many of us have been forced to strive to be. Navajo on the inside, and perfectly adaptable to the White Man’s World on the outside.

Arsenal #4

What makes someone Native American? Is it blood and skin color, or is it history, culture, and a connection to the tribe? Philosophers will argue such questions forever. Either way, our penultimate Native American Superhero is Speedy.

Roy Harper was raised on a Navajo reservation after his father died saving a medicine man. Roy’s new guardian, Brave Bow, trained him in archery until he was equal to any Olympic athlete. Roy was trapped between two worlds, too “Indian” for other kids and too White for the children of the tribe.

Brave Bow sent Roy to seek out Green Arrow and become a hero. Green Arrow trained him to become the superhero Speedy and adopted him as his ward. Despite his new circumstances, Speedy never lost his connection to the Navajo.

As an adult Speedy returned to the reservation to make peace with his past. He participated in a ceremony and was accepted as a true Navajo, even accepting a tribal tattoo to symbolize his connection to the Navajo Nation.

There’s a lot more to his story. Our Speedy Backstory has the details.

#6 Tonto

Played by Jay Silverheels and John Todd
Nation: Potawatomi

Deladier:A big goddamn mistake!
Bill:Like Johnny Depp as Tonto?
Kevin:Not that big.

Rifftrax: Starship Troopers

There are two names everyone thinks of when someone says Native American Superhero, and we’ve already ranked Apache Chief. That’s right, Ke-mo sah-bee, our number one Native American Superhero is Tonto.

Tonto was the son of a Potawatomi chief. As a child he swore to repay his friend John Reid who saved his life. Years later, Tonto discovered Reid badly wounded after being ambushed by bandits. Tonto faked Reid’s death and nursed him back to health.

Reid wanted to bring the bandits to justice, but was worried they would target his family for revenge. Tonto gave him a mask and the nickname Lone Ranger to keep his identity secret. The Lone Ranger and Tonto defeated the bandits and began wandering the Wild West to help those in need.

Tonto has always been controversial. He dressed like a stereotypical Native American and spoke English about as well as The Incredible Hulk. Later iterations play up his intelligence and skills as a warrior, even throwing in jokes at his former speech patterns. The 2013 Lone Ranger movie was also controversial for casting Johnny Depp as Tonto instead of, you know, a Native American.

Who is your favorite Native American Superhero? Is there one who is better than these? Tell us in the comments.

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