Montezuma, Carlos, 1866-1923

Alternative names
Birth 1866
Death 1923

Biographical notes:

Zitkala is the Indian name for Gertrude Bonnin, 1876-1938.

From the guide to the National Council of American Indians records, 1926-1938, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Carlos Montezuma, whose Indian name was Wassaja, was a Yavapai Indian from central Arizona. He was captured by Pima Indians and sold to a photographer. He was educated in Arizona and New York City. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1884 and attended Chicago Medical College. Carlos Montezuma served as a reservation physician working for the Indian Services (BIA). While working on reservations he encouraged Native American children to go to school. He eventually became a Yavapai advocate for Native Americans and helped organize the Society of American Indians, a national lobbying group; and published Wassaja, a monthly indictment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

From the guide to the Carlos Montezuma papers, 1890-1922, (University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections)

Physican, Yavapai advocate for Native Americans. Born in Arizona Territory; educated at Chicago Medical College; served in U. S. Indian Service; practiced medicine in Chicago; helped organize Society of American Indians, a national lobbying group; and published "Wassaja."

From the description of Carlos Montezuma papers, 1899-1922. (University of Arizona). WorldCat record id: 30636876

Physician and Indian rights activist.

From the description of Carlos Montezuma collection, 1887-1980 (bulk 1887-1922). (Scottsdale Public Library). WorldCat record id: 30058203

Native American activist and physician of Arizona and Chicago.

Born as Wassaja, a Yavapai Indian, around 1866, Carlos Montezuma was sold to an Italian photographer and taken to New York and Illinois, where he was educated at the University of Illinois and the Chicago Medical College (MD). After working several years on reservations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Montezuma became a critic of the government's policy and began a long association with the Society of American Indians. In 1896 Montezuma began to practice medicine in Chicago and to publish Wassaja, in which he crusaded for a place for Indians in American society. Montezuma died of tuberculosis in Arizona in 1923.

From the description of Carlos Montezuma papers, 1888-1936, (bulk 1888-1922). (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 53326221

Carlos Montezuma, physician and Indian Rights activist, was born near the Four Peaks in the Superstition Mountains of Central Arizona in approximately 1866. He was the son of the Yavapai Indians Co-cu-ye-vah and Thil-ge-ya. In 1871, Montezuma was captured by Pima Indians and sold to Carlos Gentile, who gave him his Anglo name. Gentile brought Montezuma to Washington, D.C., and then to Chicago, where he attended public schools. Before committing suicide, Gentile turned Montezuma over to Reverend G. W. Ingalls of the American Baptist Home Mission Society.

Montezuma completed his high school education at Urbana High School in Illinois and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from the University of Illinois. He entered the Chicago Medical School of Northwestern University and eventually established a private medical practice in Chicago. Montezuma became a leading spokesman for Indian Rights, founding a journal entitled Wassaja to address these issues. In his later years, he became ill with diabetes and tuberculosis and returned to the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation. He died on the reservation on January 31, 1923.

From the guide to the Carlos Montezuma Collection, 1887-1980, 1887-1922, (Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection)


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Ark ID:


  • Yankton Indians
  • Indian physicians
  • Manuscripts, American
  • Indians of North America--Politics and government
  • Indians of North America--Government relations--1869-1934
  • Yavapai Indians
  • Indians, treatment of
  • Indians of North America--Cultural assimilation
  • Yavapai Indians--Sources
  • Political activists
  • Indian activists
  • Indians of North America--History
  • Ute Indians
  • Indians of North America--Civil rights
  • Indians of North America--Government relations
  • Indians of North America--Legal status, laws, etc
  • Indians of North America--Government relations--1869-1934--Sources


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  • Fort McDowell Indian Reservation (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • Concho (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • Sedan (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • Lawton (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • Clinton (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Andarko (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (S.D.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Standing Rock Indian Reservation (N.D. and S.D.) (as recorded)
  • Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation (Utah) (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)
  • Lake Traverse Indian Reservation (N.D. and S.D.) (as recorded)