Tonto : “You call us savages? That very funny.” – The Lone Ranger, “Ghost Canyon” (Season 5, episode 16)

Blair Redford as Thunderbird in FOX's The Gifted

Blair Redford as Thunderbird in FOX’s The Gifted

How many Native American superheroes can you name? You know hundreds of white superheroes, alien superheroes, mutants, Atlanteans, and Amazons, but I doubt you could name one Native American superhero. Let’s fix that, shall we?

List Criteria: They must have a secret identity. So no Tonto or Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace.

Honorable Mention: The Green Ranger

Played by Jason David Frank
Nation: Unknown

Monster: (scoffs) “Aren’t you a little old for this, Tommy?”
Tommy Oliver: “I may be old, but I can still pull it off. Dino Thunder, power up!” – Power Rangers Dino Thunder, “Back in Black” (Season 12, episode 5)

Yep, the most popular Power Ranger is also a Native American.

Tommy Oliver was introduced in Power Rangers as the evil Green Ranger. He eventually became a hero and would become a steadfast member of the team. During the season Power Rangers Zeo, Tommy was sent on a quest and met a man named David Trueheart (played by the late Eric Frank). A Macguffin found on the quest revealed that David was Tommy’s long lost brother.

Tommy’s heritage nets him an honorable mention because of his popularity, despite only being relevant in a few episodes. We should also mention that Tommy was revealed to be of native descent while he was the Red Zeo Ranger. Bad timing.

5. Mirage

Played by Blu Hunt
Nation: Cheyenne

Mirage: (blocking Death’s path) “Stay back! You won’t get past me without a fight. I mean it!” – New Mutants #41

Danielle Moonstar is a mutant with superhuman strength and psychic powers that first manifested when she saw her parents’ spirit animals killed by a demonic bear. Black Eagle, Danielle’s grandfather, sent her to the X-Men’s school so she could learn to control her powers. She began using the code name Mirage and became the leader of The New Mutants, a team of X-Men in training.

During a mission to Asgard, Mirage found a horse caught in a trap. She freed the horse and was shocked to find it had wings. The horse chose Mirage as its rider, transforming her into a Valkyrie. These additional powers gave Mirage the ability to sense and fight off death. That’s very useful when you are saving lives.

Mirage and the Demon Bear are slated to appear in 2018’s The New Mutants.

4. Forge

Played by Roger Craig Smith
Nation: Cheyenne

Forge : “So… the moral of this story is that I am a total badass, huh?” – Extraordinary X-Men #18

Jonathon Silvercloud is a mutant whose powers make him an inventive genius on par with Iron Man. He studied to become a medicine man, but prefers to use science and technology instead of mysticism. He lost an arm and a leg in Vietnam and later replaced them with cybernetics.

Silvercloud joined the X-Men after encountering Storm and took on the name Forge. He has saved the team countless times with his blend of technology and magic. He courted Storm, but their relationship fell apart when his technology was used to depower her.

3. Thunderbird

Played by Blair Redford
Nation: Apache

Thunderbird: (attacking a villain’s plane) “I’ve been a loner all my life, an outcast, dumped on by everybody I met. But I’m a man, Xavier, a warrior of the Apache, and today I’m gonna prove it!”
Banshee: “ For God’s sake, laddie, get off the plane!! ” – X-Men #95

John Proudstar was a mutant with superhuman strength, speed, and durability. A Marine corporal who fought in Vietnam and was later recruited by Professor X, Proudstar took the name Thunderbird and joined the X-Men.

Marvel editors decided Thunderbird and fellow newcomer Wolverine were too similar and ordered the writers to kill one of them. Considering Hugh Jackman’s career, you’ve probably guessed which character died. Thunderbird died two issues after his debut when he attacked a plane carrying the villain Count Nefaria. Despite the other X-Men warning him the plane was about to explode, Thunderbird kept smashing it and died in the explosion.

Thunderbird appears now in Fox’s The Gifted. Despite the WASP-y name, Blair Redford is part-Native American so bonus points.

2. Shaman

Played by Don Francks
Nation: Tsuu T’ina

Citadel: “Hey, Indian! What has the regime done for your people? You should understand!”
Shaman: “What I understand is the nearly overwhelming desire to punch the hell out of anyone who yells ‘Hey, Indian’ at me.” – Alpha Flight #0.1

Shaman is not a mutant or an X-Man. He is a founding member of Canada’s greatest superhero team, Alpha Flight.

Michael Twoyoungmen was a doctor who refused to learn magic from his grandfather. His wife became terminally ill, causing Michael to turn to his grandfather for help. Tragically, his grandfather had passed away and his wife also died. A devastated Twoyoungmen saw a vision of his grandfather, who offered once more to teach him magic. This time, he accepted.

Michael was given the title of Shaman when he completed his training. He learned to use an enchanted medicine bag to summon magical objects and potions and then joined the Alpha Flight superhero team.

1.) Apache Chief

Played by Michael Rye
Nation: Apache

Giganta: “Out of the way, Tiny.
Apache Chief: [grows huge] “You were saying?
Giganta: “Oh poop…” – Justice League: Unlimited “Ultimatum” (season 1, episode 9)

Apache Chief is our number one Native American Superhero because he’s the only one most people are familiar with. He was created for Super Friends to help make the team more racially diverse.

Apache Chief was trained by a medicine man to be a great hero. The pair were attacked by a grizzly bear, leading the medicine man to give Apache Chief magic powder. The powder amplified his courage and gave Apache Chief the power to turn into a giant by saying the words Inuk Chuk (Apache for big man).

Apache Chief’s character was a product of his time, dressing in buckskins, speaking in a clipped tone, and spewing vaguely spiritual proverbs. A less stereotypical version of Apache Chief appeared in Justice League, using the codename Long Shadow. The new version was popular and Long Shadow later appeared in Young Justice.

That’s the list. Who is your favorite Native American Superhero? Let us know in a comment.

Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study


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