Big Jim (unknown–1900)

By: Seymour V. Connor

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 30, 2020

Big Jim, a Shawnee chief, grandson of Tecumseh and son of one of the chiefs who signed the Indian treaty of February 23, 1836, was born in the Sabine reservation in Texas in 1834. His native name was Wapameepto ("Gives Light as He Walks"), and his popular name, Big Jim, was a mistake for his English name, Dick Jim. In 1872 he became chief of his band, often called Big Jim's band of Absentee Shawnees. He resented the encroachments of settlers, never became Christianized, and made efforts to move his people away from White men. In 1900, while in Mexico to investigate possibilities of moving his people there, he died of smallpox.

Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Seymour V. Connor, “Big Jim,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 30, 2020