Chief Two Moon

Chief Two Moon Bitter Oil Advertisement

Chief Two Moon Meridas

Chief Two Moon Meridas (ca.1888-1933), born Chico Colon Meridan, owned a successful herbal medicine company in the early twentieth century. He claimed to be Pueblo and later sought membership with the "Sioux"—which are two very diferent Native American cultures. Contemporary critics have disputed his claim of Indigenous ancestry. A tireless promoter, he wore a feathered headdress and native clothing in the style of Northern Plains regalia and used similarly stylized and stereotypical Native American imagery to promote his products. His advertising techniques capitalized on white Americans' association of Native American medicines with natural healing powers.


He and his wife, Helen G. Nugent, founded the Chief Two Moon Herb Company in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1914. The company's wide range of herbal medicines, including its popular laxative, Chief Two Moon Bitter Oil, were widely available in drugstores and by mail order. The company's sales grew after it claimed that none of its customers had died during the 1918–19 influenza epidemic.

Chief two Moon Bitter Oil Laxative Box

He was a savvy marketer with a knack for attracting news coverage, and he maintained a fleet of buses for salesmen and a corporate airplane. He frequently used his knowledge of herbal medicine to give advice to customers. In the 1930s, however, Chief Two Moon battled legal troubles for allegedly practicing medicine without a license.


He was a generous philanthropist, and, in 1930, the Oglala Lakota tribal council made Chief Two Moon an honorary chief in recognition of his financial support during the Great Depression.


Chief Two Moon died on November 3, 1933, wealthy and well-known. His biographers wrote in 1995: "Though sometimes called a charlatan, he was more often praised as a hard-working, compassionate folk doctor, and, of course, for the healing properties of his herbal medicines."


His wife continued to run the Chief Two Moon Herbal Company until about 1971.


For further reading: Thomas J. Filliues, Loretta R. Nugent, Virginia Tyler, and Varro E. Tyler, "Chief Two Moon Meridas: 'Indian Miracle Man?,'" Pharmacy in History 37, no. 3 (1995): 143–51.

Explore more images below from the Chief Two Moon Herb Company and its products.

Chief Two Moon Herb Company Headquarters, Waterbury, Connecticut

A truck from the fleet of the Chief Two Moon Herb Company

Advertisement for Chief Two Moon Bitter Oil

Chief Two Moon