Biographical / Historical
Specific details on the life of Chief Wolf Wanna (1880-1919) are somewhat difficult to locate. Wolf Wanna was born to Petro Wanna and Luiza Obanda in Pueblo, Colorado in 1880. He may have possibly attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, although no records appear to exist. Around 1905 Wanna lived in San Antonio, Texas, where he worked as a ranch foreman. He later relocated to New York City sometime prior to 1911, and in June of that year married Loretta Colombo in Boston, Massachusetts.
During his early years in New York City he traveled throughout the country, working in motion pictures, vaudeville, and stage performances, and was billed as "Chief Wolf Wanna – Full blood American Indian Performer and Entertainer." Various newspaper articles and playbills identify Wanna as either Diné (Navajo) or Apache, and as the "favorite grandson" of Goyathlay (Geronimo, ca. 1825-1909; Chiricahua Apache). During these early years of his stage career, he reportedly lectured on "Justice to the Indian," spoke about Custer's Last Stand and Sitting Bull, sang a number of songs, and performed Native American dances. In the years 1911-1914, he may have also been involved with Wild West shows.
By 1915 Wanna was re-married to Mary Schlereth, still living in New York City, and self-employed as a Medicine Manufacturer. Sometime around 1915-1916 Wanna was employed to promote "Walsh's Eucalyptus and Menthol Inhaler" by John J. Walsh, whom the 1915 Journal of the American Medical Association considered a street faker. By 1919 Wanna and Schlereth had separated, and he was employed as a "Medical Demonstrator." Chief Wolf Wanna died in November, 1919, in New York.