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date: 05 December 2020

Beckwourth, James Pierson locked

1798–1866 Legendary American western mountain man, trapper, warrior, Indian chief, and trailblazer, for whom Beckwourth Pass in Sierra Nevada is named.
  • Kate Tuttle

Extract

James P. Beckwourth, born of mixed-race parentage in Fredericksburg, Virginia, escaped an apprenticeship to a St. Louis, Missouri blacksmith and went west, taking a job with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He became an experienced trapper and fighter in the sparsely settled western territories. In 1824 the Crow Indian tribe adopted Beckwourth, who then married the daughter of the chief and earned such renown in battle that he was renamed Bloody Arm. Although he left the tribe after several years—and after earning honorary chief status—he continued a lifelong friendship with the Crows.

Criss-crossing the western and southern frontiers, Beckwourth worked as a guide, prospected for gold, served as a United States Army scout during the third Seminole War and was a rider for the Pony Express He also worked with California s Black Franchise League in an effort unsuccessful at the time to repeal a law barring blacks from ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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