A snapshot biography of Ely Parker

Ely Parker

Ely Parker was a Native American, born to a Seneca Nation family in 1828. Raised in his tribe, but educated in white society at a Baptist Mission School, he learned to bridge the two worlds from a young age. 

His perspective and learnings put him in a position to take on important roles in his tribe. As a fourteen year old, the elders of his tribe selected him to become a translator, interpreter and scribe for meetings with government leaders. 

Then years later, after meeting and becoming friends with Ulysses Grant in 1860, Ely became a Lieutenant Colonel for the North during the Civil War. And when it came time for the South to surrender, it was Ely who wrote final draft of the terms. 

After the Civil War, Ely became the first Native American to be Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Sources: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War Personalities and Scenes, National Archives / Wikimedia Commons / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ely_S._Parker