In this alternate "Wild-West" setting, one Indian tribe is known for its inventions, from music boxes to steam-powered mobile homes. I'm looking for a backstory to explain how this came about.
I'm inspired by the story of Sequoia:
As a silversmith, Sequoyah dealt regularly with whites who had settled in the area. He was impressed by their writing, referring to their correspondence as "talking leaves". He knew that they represented a way to transmit information to other people in distant places.
He became the first man to single-handedly create an alphabet, in his case for the Cherokee language.
A) Were there any real-life Native American inventors, scientists, or other figures who could have done the same for mechanical inventions? (Even if he was born in the 20th Century? I'll just set his birthday backwards a hundred years or so.)
B) My first thought was that this individual would be exposed to such invention by contact with the Europeans and American settlers; possibly by being educated at Harvard College or Oxford or something. But I'd like to avoid the "insensitive and offensive tropes" mentioned below. How might a culture of invention have arisen independently among the Native Americans?