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Badass Native

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"Don't plan to bind or banish ya, old ghost. Just gonna kick your ass up between your ears."
Joseph "Injun Joe" Listens-to-Winds to Shagnasty,note  Turn Coat

Many indigenous people have a tradition of hand to hand combat using traditional weapons. When they're defending their village from an invading tribe or colonial soldiers, of course they're badasses. No matter what era you're in, if you live in the Americas, Oceania, or sub-Saharan Africa, indigenous people will be badasses, whether they're wielding spears, bow and arrows, or hatchets. Rarely seen in the rest of the world, though. The American version of the Badass Native tends to wear Braids, Beads and Buckskins. Will often be magical.

Overlaps with Noble Savage or The Savage Indian. See also Proud Warrior Race Guy.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Arak: Son of Thunder: Arak is a Native American warrior who is the equal of any knight in Charlemagne's court.
  • The Butcher: John Butcher is a Lakota man with ten years of experience in military intelligence and exceptional skills in martial arts. He is also an ally of Green Arrow.
  • Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen: Jay Little Bear was a Native American marine who was probably the best soldier in the squad after Kelly and often acted as Kelly's second-in-command. He sported a Mohawk haircut and carried a bow and arrow into battle.
  • Shaman's Tears: Joshua Brand was chosen to be the champion of Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit of the Sioux.
  • Spider-Man: Thomas Fireheart aka the Puma. A foe-turned-ally of Spider-Man, Fireheart is trained in martial arts and can transform into a human-puma hybrid with great strength, speed, agility, and senses.
  • The DCU has the Super-Chief, whose magical meteorite necklace gives him the "the strength of a thousand bears, the speed of a thousand running deer, the keen senses of the wolf nation, and the power in his legs to leap higher than the tallest trees in the forest"...but only for an hour. In 52, that last tidbit dooms the latest Super-Chief since his enemy has the power to manipulate time.
  • Thunderbolts: Warren Ellis's run featured minor Marvel hero American Eagle who proved himself to be this trope by curb-stomping Bullseye.
  • X-Men:
    • James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath from X-Force is this when written right. Recently, he has often been the Jobber.
    • His brother John, a.k.a. Thunderbird, tried to be this trope as one of the early X-Men, but his extreme temper (he was the resident hothead of a team that included Wolverine) led to him dying on his second mission. But what a death: punching out a fighter jet. Mid-flight. One of the few comic book deaths that's actually stuck... at least, until the Krakoan era, where John is back and is still carrying one hell of a chip on his shoulder.
    • Lucas Bishop is an Australian Aboriginal with a BFG and the ability to redirect energy attacks back at his enemies. He also survived growing up in a bad future.
  • Moonstalker in Topps Comics' Zorro series. Moonstalker, a California Indian who's watched his people die...who's seen his culture systematically destroyed...decides to take aim at all his enemies. Moonstalker forges an impressive bow capable of firing multiple-armament arrows, all capable of devastating, explosive potential.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy: Nah Tay was a Native American from Ecuador who worked for Mr. Bribery. One of his specialties was shrinking the heads of Bribery's victims.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Apache, Massai, the last Apache warrior, is a One-Man Army waging a guerilla war against the entire US Army, and usually winning.
  • Filipe Camarão and his Potiguara tribesmen in Batalha dos Guararapes are a Brazilian real-life version of this trope, serving as part of La Résistance against the Dutch invaders. Unusually, they are also a combination of this with Church Militant, since they embraced Catholicism and consider the Protestant Dutchmen "heretics".
  • Mani from Brotherhood of the Wolf, complete with martial arts.
  • Gooch, a huge ex-con just released from prison at the beginning of Dance Me Outside, plays up to this trope.
  • Wind In His Hair in Dances with Wolves.
  • A villainous example in Death Ring. One of the Egomaniac Hunters stalking Matt on the island is a Native American known only as 'Apache'. He hunts Matt armed with a spear and proves to be a Scarily Competent Tracker.
  • First Blood. Though not on the same level, this is one metaphor of the film. Our protagonist survives in the woods against a well-equipped military armed with only a bow and his own wits. It is even mentioned in the film that he's half Cherokee. And does this quote remind you of anything?:
    I could have killed them all. I could have killed you. In town you're the law, out here it's me. Don't push it. Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe.
  • Hunter from Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning.
  • The title character in Navajo Joe has this, being proficient in firearms and melee weapons and single-handedly whittling down a rival's gang.
  • Billy Bear in Predator.
  • Prey (2022) has many of those in a Comanche tribe, including protagonist Naru, who turns out to be an Action Girl capable of fighting the Predator.
  • Red Blood has a whole tribe of them take on the mob.
  • Aila, from Rhymes for Young Ghouls, is a less racist or stereotypical example of this trope, though she's most certainly both First Nations and extremely badass.
  • Victor Joseph in Smoke Signals subverts this trope; he has a "stoic face" to look badass.
  • Through Black Spruce: Will is skilled with a rifle, easily sniping Marius using it. His niece Annie too, having learned from him, guns down two drug dealers. Both are Cree.
  • Transamerica has Toby talk about how his father's an Indian and a millionaire, only to learn that his father's really a Jew for Jesus who's transgender.
  • Utu is a movie about a Māori uprising in 1800s New Zealand, and pretty much the entire Māori cast qualifies as this trope. Very much Truth in Television; see the Real Life examples below.
  • Mangas Coloradas from the 1957 movie War Drums.
  • White Wolves III: Cry of the White Wolf: The Native American pilot takes the lead in helping his passengers get through the mountains after the plane crash for as long as he remains alive. Crosses over with Magical Native American when he appears to Pamela in a vision after his death.

  • Sherman Alexie likes to play with this trope:
    • The title character in "The Toughest Indian In The World" plays it straight, but is gay.
    • Victor Joseph deconstructs it: he has a "stoic" face which involves looking like you just killed a buffalo (because the Cour D'Alene are fishermen, but you don't want to look like you just killed a salmon), and he's best friends with Thomas Builds-the-Fire, a gothic-looking storyteller who can't shut up.
    • Arnold in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a Memetic Badass for a day. This despite being a nerd and excessive Ho Yay.
    • In Flight, Zits enters the body of a Sioux boy, and he tries to prevent Little Big Horn, but... On the badass side of things, his father is compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger, he meets Crazy Horse, and he's in the most badass tribe in North America. He later meets his father, who is not a badass at all.
  • Oberon in Adam R. Brown's Alterien is a Lakota Indian with superhuman strength, superhuman speed, a healing factor and can engage just about anyone in hand-to-hand combat or close-quarters armed combat (knives).
  • Bazil Broketail:
    • Not when we first meet her, Lumbee's definitely not. Once she receives some training from Relkin, though, and aids him in liberating a few slaver camps...
    • Norwul is the top hunter in his tribe and after some guidance from Relkin, he also becomes their best warrior. He is so strong that he can pick up an adult man and break his spine on his knee Bane-on-Batman style with little effort.
  • In the Codex Alera series, pretty much every single race is one of these, from the Marats , to the wolflike Canim and to the Ice Men who have kept the powerful fury-crafting (i.e. magic using) Aleran Legion at bay for hundreds of years.
  • Eheca, Quetza and almost every Aztec character from Federico Andahazi's El Conquistador
  • In The Dresden Files, Joseph Listens-to-Wind. He's the Nice Guy on the Senior Council, sure— but he can also turn into a bear and go toe-to-toe with demigod-level Eldritch Abominations. Also, the fact that he is on the Senior Council means he is one of the seven most powerful and skilled wizards in the world.
    • The page quote comes from Turn Coat, where he fights a Skinwalker, a kind of Native American evil spirit that can change form and enjoys tormenting its victims. The skinwalker in question, Shagnasty, curbstomps vampires, cuts a bloody path through a whole fae court, and gives the experienced wizard protagonist a nosebleed just being near him. Another character mentions having to lure a different skinwalker into a nuclear testing facility to destroy it. Injun Joe kicked Shagnasty's ass so hard that the abomination ran in fear from him. Even more impressively, Shagnasty is from Najavo and Ute folklore while Joe is from a Great Lakes tribe, so Joe lacked the proper training and ritual knowledge to deal with the creature and he still won by using a rain dance to mitigate its magic and then fighting it in different animal forms including a huge eagle and a bear the size of a school bus.
  • The Fremen in the first three Dune novels.
  • Uncas and Chingachgook from James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Though the Wickans are from Quon Tali and the book they mainly feature in, Deadhouse Gates, is set on Seven Cities, even the Seven Cities natives are impressed by their battle prowess. Their leader Coltaine is the most badass of them all by being even more cunning and fiercer than his followers.
    • The Khundryl join the final battle in Deadhouse Gates just to see who's the boss tribe on Seven Cities and drive away most of the tribes assaulting the Malazan forces. Even Coltaine is impressed, although the Khundryl come to the conclusion that the Wickans are even more badass than them.
  • Martín Fierro: At Song III of the First Book of this Narrative Poem, Martin Fierro describes the Mapuche and Ranquel Indians (Natives from Argentina) as men that when they spill his guts for a wound they don't even worry, they will stuff them back in a moment.
  • In the Time Scout series, this is the general consensus on downtimers. Don't mess with them; they'll probably kill you. More specifically, the downtimers on-station, Skeeter's Mongolian family, and Jack the Ripper.
  • The protagonist of Trail of Lightning is a full-blood Diné woman who has combat superpowers inherited from her parents' clans.
  • Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch: Half-Apache Pony Flores is one of the few characters on a similar skill level to the main protagonists as far as combat goes.
  • In World War Z, New Zealand manages to get away from the worst of the Zombie Apocalypse due to its remote location. When the apocalypse did show up on their shores, a few hundred Māori managed to clear Auckland of zombies with nothing but traditional clubs and axes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, the Grounders are shown to be, on average, much more badass then the people who come down from the Ark. Justified by the Ark being a small, completely isolated society, giving them little opportunity to practice war, and by their heavy reliance on technology, which leaves them in a difficult spot when they start running low on guns or bullets.
  • Something like a solid third of the cast of Banshee fits this trope. Chayton Littlestone and Nola Longshadow are at the top of the heap, though.
  • Criminal Minds has John Black Wolf. He's the de facto leader/police chief of his reservation, and when a group of armed men come with the intention of murdering their children to start a race war, he beats the crap out of them with his bare hands and a knife for self-defense. And he doesn't kill a single one outright (he appears to be a Technical Pacifist who advises Hotch use his baton and not shoot any if he can).
  • Dark Winds: James Tso impersonates his twin brother, a priest, as cover while he commits bank robbery, kidnapping and murder.
  • Deadliest Warrior has had the Apache and Comanche featured in episodes, demonstrating just how lethal and badass they were in real life.
  • Legion (2017): Kerry is Native American, always ready to fight, and casually mops the floor with Division mooks in episode 4 (at least until their reinforcements arrive).
  • Letterkenny has Tanis, a Mama Bear, tomboy Action Girl who is the de facto leader of the local Native rez. It's wise to stay on her good side if you don't want half your town burned down.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: In the shows' universe, the Ojibwe rule over the Cession and strictly enforce their sovereignty through the use of the Cession Marshals, magic-wielding tribesmen who can trace suspected criminals for miles. Even Nicte quickly finds herself outmatched when trying to go up against one of them.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had Tommy Oliver. Played with because he was raised white and it didn't come into play until late season three of MMPR (and was revisited during Zeo).
  • In Queen of the South, one of Teresa's allies is Taza, the leader of a small reservation in Arizona. While he is initially shown under the thumb of the local cartels, once Teresa convinces him to push back, he quickly proves to be a competent leader, to the point that Teresa makes him a partner in her burgeoning empire.
  • Commander Chakotay of Star Trek: Voyager fills the masculine action hero role (not in personality, but in the sense of throwing punches and getting babes, a la Captain Kirk and Commander Riker). To boot, his backstory involves leading a band of outlaws to defend his tribe's home planet against Cardassians, with a passion for boxing on the side. The commander is a soft-spoken man of peace who is most assuredly not to be fucked with.
  • In Turn, Robert Rogers' crew includes an extremely competent Abenaki tracker.
  • Deputy Hawk on Twin Peaks. He's shown to be a very good shot, a master knife-thrower, and, of course, a phenomenal tracker. We never find out precisely what nation or tribe he's supposed to be a part of, but his actor, Michael Horse, is descended from multiple tribes, including the Zuni and Mescalero.

  • Johnny Cash's "The Ballad of Ira Hayes"
  • Iron Maiden's song "Run to the Hills" has this, though it also outright says that the US Army won because of superior numbers.
    We fought him hard, we fought him well. Out on the plains, we gave him hell!
    But many came, too much for Cree. Oh will we ever be set free?
  • Robbie Robertson (Anishinabe) has many badass songs.
    We are making a noise in this world!... Making a noise in this world!
    You can bet your ass, we won't go quietly,
    Making a noise in this world.
  • Sabaton: "A Ghost in the Trenches" is about the most effective sniper of World War I, Francis Pegahmagabow, who was a member of the indigenous First Nations and fought in the Canadian military.
  • John Trudell (Santee-Dakota) was a singer-songwriter — also a U.S. Navy veteran, broadcaster, artist, actor, teacher, writer and American Indian movement member involved in the taking of Alcatraz in 1969. He brought this trope to life.

    Oral Tradition 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Idaho territory had Chief Thunderbird, prior to the rise of the National Wrestling Alliance. He had previously earned fame in Hawaii when he defeated and unmasked the dreaded Red Scorpion, but that was in 1937, well before Hawaii really entered the consciousness of the continental US. After the NWA there was also Chief Suni War Cloud, who unfortunately wasn't as successful, only holding the NWA Idaho Heavyweight title one time for seven days, but he did win the belt nonetheless.
  • Suni\Sunny War Cloud would go on to become a legacy gimmick for Amerindian men in the NWA. Two successors, one in Canada, the other in Mexico(and Hawaii), would go on to become more successful than the original when it came to winning title belts.
  • Apache Bull Ramos, one of the first of this role to be a heel, at his own insistence, as wrestling promoters not only thought his lack of charisma made babyface a better fit but pushing someone from a group whose slaughter was basically publicly approved as a heel was correctly believed to be dangerous. Bull's sense of timing in regards to working the crowd made it work.
  • Chief Little Eagle and Chief Big Heart enjoyed many reigns as Tag Team Champions of the Georgia territory during the NWA's heyday, although ironically they only held the belts together once, usually teaming with different non-native partners. Bobby Bold Eagle also came down from Canada to become heavyweight champion of Georgia. Subverted with Bobby's cousin Al, who tried a "Dancing Wolf" gimmick and even tried to get some of Bobby's popularity to rub off on him with the ring name "Al Bold Eagle", but did not find success until he rejected his native heritage with an Arab Oil Sheikh gimmick Al Farat. Al then briefly got Ky-Ote Joe to do the same, but Joe found more success embracing his native heritage.
  • Chief Wahoo McDaniel, a football player who began wrestling in the off seasons around the same time Ernie Ladd did but despite the name, Wahoo didn't come from the "red man" sports mascot. It had been in the chief's family long before he started playing sports.
  • The Brisco Brothers, Jack and Gerald. (This was not reflected in their wrestling gimmicks beyond a feud with the cowboy Funks, but the two are Cherokee descendants from Blackwell)
    • Gerald's son Wes also counts.
  • Gran Apache, who after spending ten years on the Mexican independent circuit, started to enter into this trope in the 1980s with the fame he found in Lucha Libre Internacional. He was popular enough to form a pareja with a Gran Apache #2 and win the Pavillón Azteca Tag Team Titles. After LLI and UWA's closing, Gran Apache #1 developed a reputation for winning hair vs hair matches in CMLL and AAA. His wife, Lady Apache, and daughters Fabi and Mari, won numerous title belts and became recognized among the best in the world.
  • Tatanka, a Lumbee. The infamous lack of respect his tribe gets from the US government once led to an angle where he became a vengeful warrior against the wrestling officials he thought were showing him the same disrespect. This was supposed to be a heel gimmick but was so badass the fans took his side. His original heel turn in 1994, when he joined "The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's The Million Dollar Corporation, was much less successful.
  • Navajo Warrior, who paints his face underneath his racoon skin hat. Outside of Arizona he's best known for tag team title runs with Shooting Wolf and Ghost Walker as "Native Blood".
  • Florida Championship Wrestling had Mickie James defend their ladies title belt on a Seminole reservation, though one heel challenger(Lexie Fyfe) pointed out James was from a completely different tribe (Powhatan from Virginia) and unsuccessfully tried to convince the fans not to cheer for her.
  • The Chickasaw Warrior Ky-ote Joe, a staple of the US Southwest light heavyweight and Tag Team divisions during the 2000s and 2010s, although he did successfully win the heavyweight belts of UWF06 and 3DW in spite of his relatively small size. Among the tag teams and trios he is apart of, Native Pride with Kunna Keyoh and Arrow Club with Desi Derata and Kyle Hawk also qualify.
  • Hania (Hopi for "Spirit Warrior"), a shredded acrobat dubbed "The Howling Huntress", who is Blackfoot-Cherokee. Unfortunately she tends to suffer from The Worf Effect, but sometimes this ultimately results in being indirectly avenged by the more successful "Native Beast" Nyla Rose.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Soloha Salawa, a celebrated Hopi Ace Pilot from Crimson Skies.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The vampire tribes of Zendikar were designed with this trope in mind.
  • Shadowrun: Native Americans (referred to primarily as Amerindians in the setting) were one of the first human groups to relearn magic once it returned. Thanks to a magic ritual they performed, the Great Ghost Dance, they were able to successfully drive the US government out of most of the western US and formed several new nations.
    • Goes somewhat double for the Sioux Wildcats, one of the scarier special operations groups in the setting.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has two extant tribes consisting mainly of American Indians in the present day. The Uktena are Magical Native American, whereas the Wendigo are pretty much this trope down to the core. They're one of the major warriors tribes in what's already a Proud Warrior Race, were quite active in AIM in the Sixties, and still have a bit of grudge with the Europe-based tribes.
  • This trope is taken advantage of by the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 - with countless worlds within its galactic borders and varying conditions and technologies on them, there are some which are so harsh that the world's inhabitants will be at Stone Age technology. Having individuals who survive harsh conditions and prosper with little more than their own strength, they are commonly used as recruits for the Adeptus Asartes.
    • The Eldar Exodites, the descendants of those who saw the terrible depravity and hedonism of the Eldar before The Fall, and fled to the uncivilized backwater worlds on the edge of their empire, places where they'd be forced to work hard to survive. Basically, they're Amish dinosaur-riding cowboy Wood Elves IN SPACE. They tend to keep to themselves, but they're more than capable of schooling anyone who is stupid enough to try and conquer their worlds. In one Black Library book, the Imperium launched an assault on one of the Exodite worlds, and while the Exodites lost eventually, the Imperium needed three Space Marine legions to get the job done. Yes, you just read that right: not "chapters", but legions. Pre-Horus Heresy legions.
    • The Raven Guard are sometimes stylised as space native Americans, ones that have Powered Armour and mandatory 30mm gyrojet rifle and also badass stealth tactics. The Rainbow Warriors are also often Fanonically given an Aztec/Inca theme, which is fitting as the Rainbow Warrior is an American folklore figure, a powerful being who defends life.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Baldr Sky: Mohawk is a Native American, and working under Fenrir, the badass moniker comes with the job. Turns out to be a bit more complex. In actuality he is a designer child based on the genetic information of a long extinct tribe brought to life by a nationalist group. His genes were also altered and was raised in order to be the perfect representation of the idealized Native American warrior.

    Web Original 
  • Mahu: In "Crownless Eagle" the Commonwealth Republic manages to create a whole army made of native american warriors from different tribes. These force is one of the first to take part in the last and largest war in the series.

    Western Animation 
  • The titular protagonist of Bravestarr is a space cop with superpowers.
  • John Thunder, the Native American member of the Centurions. He's a full-blooded Chiracahua Apache, a direct descendant of Geronimo, and the team's Stealth Expert.
  • King of the Hill's John Redcorn double-subverts this. At first, he averts it, but when Big Mountain Fudgecake is introduced, he plays it straight until he realizes he can make more money with children's songs.
  • Injun Joe the Superchief from the Looney Tunes short "Wagon Heels".
  • Just about every character in the action series Maya and the Three. The story is set in fantasy pre-colonial Mexico and South America, so everyone counts as Native American. The only exception is the inhabitants of Luna Island that has a higher concentration of people of African descent.
  • Nathan Explosion of Metalocalypse is only half Native American, bit he fits the trope nonetheless.
  • Jefferson Trueblood from Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, the sheriff of Roswell as well as the leader of the Alliance's S.T.A.R team, more or less a SWAT team with advanced alien weaponry.
  • Apache Chief from Super Friends combines this with Magical Native American and You No Take Candle speech patterns to create a character that was Fair for Its Day...but just barely.
  • Zorro: The Chronicles: The villainous Yuma. Diego and Ines are also half Native American, through their mother's side.