Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Indian n.

(US)

1. [mid-19C+] an uncouth, rowdy person, irrespective of actual race.

2. [mid-19C+] a person.

3. [late 19C] a cent [a picture of a Native American was engraved on the reverse].

4. [late 19C+] a quick temper; usu. as get one’s Indian up

In phrases

big Indian (n.)

[mid-19C+] (US) an influential, important person.

get one’s Indian up (v.) [note B&L differentiate: ‘to say that one has his “Indian up”, implies a great degree of vindictiveness, while Dutch wrath is stubborn but yielding to reason’]

[late 19C+] (US) to lose one’s temper; to anger, to irritate.

Indian (up) (v.) (also Indian round)

[19C+] (US) to sneak up without alerting one’s targets.

play Indian (v.)

[1920s] (US) to ambush.

play (the) sober Indian (v.)

[mid-19C] (US) to resist joining in a drinking session.