DECEMBER 16, 1859


Born on the Tuscarora Reserve, New York State, Hewitt’s mother was of Tuscarora & Oneida descent; his father was a white orphan adopted by a Tuscarora family.  Starting school at age 11, he left due to health.  Back at the reserve, he was a farmer, newspaper reporter, and teacher.  In 1880, John aided ethnologist Erminnie A. Smith who was studying Iroquois languages and collecting myths & tales.  When Smith died in 1886, the Bureau of Ethnology hired Hewitt to continue her work and complete a Tuscarora-English dictionary.  Hewitt established a relationship between Cherokee and Iroquois languages & wrote several entries to the Bureau’s Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico.  His publications include: Iroquois Cosmology & Seneca Fiction, Legends, and Myths.  Hewitt served as Anthropological Society of Washington treasurer (1912-26) & president (1932-34) and represented the Smithsonian Institute on the U.S. Board of Geographic Names (1918-37).  He died on October 14, 1937.

Source:  “Hewitt, J.N.B. (John Napoleon Brinton),” Warrior Society, 9/24/2005.  Retrieved 9/10/2020,
Photo:  Author unknown, 1915.  Public Domain.  Source: Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians, Volume 3, Number 2, April-June, 1915.     

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