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The Jewish Indian Chief

November 24, 2011 | By

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In 1888, the Acoma Pueblo Indians–a Native American tribe living in New Mexico–appointed Solomon Bibo as chief of their tribe. The Acomas even asked the United States to recognize Bibo as their leader. Most remarkable of all is that Bibo was white man–and a Jew.

Solomon Bibo was a trader. He was originally from Prussia, the sixth of eleven children. He followed two of his older brothers to America and made his living by procuring produce from local Native American tribes, and selling it to local army forts.

The Acomas were his best suppliers. In the midst of a fight with the federal government over the Acomas’ land rights, Bibo struck a deal to lease the tribe’s land. Aside from paying the Acomas a handsome rate, the deal also protected their long-term holdings by assuring that the land remained in the tribe’s name.

For this, the tribe requested that the New Mexico state government officially recognize Bibo as their governor.

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