A Native American born into poverty in the Taos Pueblo Reservation in Taos, New Mexico, Charlie Iron-Knife was raised to respect nature and had an innate connection to it; in the tradition of his ancestors. He was a hunting guide in high-school, and then enlisted in the army after graduation and was soon sent to Southeast Asia, where he served in a Long Range Recon Patrol unit.
In the army, Spirit also became a qualified sniper. After returning home he completed his education and then re-enlisted, eventually being recruited for the G.I. Joe team. His primary military specialty is infantry and his secondary MOS is social services.
Spirit was created and released for the Hasbro G.I. Joe toy line in 1984. His story and character was created and developed by Larry Hama for the Marvel series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
Spirit's primary use on the G.I. Joe team is as a tracker. He is also seen using Native American medicinal traditions in the G.I. Joe series, sometimes utilizing medicinal herbs and shaman techniques to heal himself and other Joes. As the series progressed, he not only was the team's tracker, but became the guard to the entrance of the new PIT.
The Joes would have to give him the correct password in order to enter. Spirit also had a pet eagle named Freedom which would appear several times in the comic series. He used the eagle as a scout or a messenger.
Perhaps the biggest change with the Spirit character over the years has been to his costume. In the original Marvel series, Spirit's fatigues are accompanied by many traditional Native American items such as a headband, feather, breechcloth, leggings, and long braided hair. When the team was reinstated in the Image/DDP series, Spirit, who was one of the first members called back to active duty, donned all black fatigues and dropped all the Native American garb. In IDW's continuation of Marvel's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series, Spirit is seen in his original fatigues.
Major Story Arcs
Spirit was a main character in the Sunbow G.I. Joe animated series. His character contained many elements of his comic book form (appearance, role on the team) but he utilized his pet eagle Freedom much more often (in almost every episode), practised many Native American healing aspects, and almost given mystical type power, and was Storm Shadow's nemesis.
The two would often battle but would show much respect towards each other, never placing the other in a disadvantaged situation. In the series, he was voiced by Gregg Berger. Spirit also appeared in the DiC version of the animated series, this time voiced by Maurice LaMarche and in the Sigma 6 rendition of the G.I. Joe team, voiced by Darren Dunstan. In the Sigma 6 series, his pet eagle is named Billy, not Freedom. Spirit also appeared in several episode's of Adult Swim's Robot Chicken and was voiced by Seth Green.
The Spirit action figure had several releases. He was first released in 1984 and then again in 1985 as a part of the third wave of Joe action figures.
His figure discontinued in 1986, but then re-released in 1989 as a part of the Sgt. Slaughter's Marauders line and his birthplace was changed to Grand Canyon, Arizona.
He was released again in 1992 as a part of the Air Commandos and then not seen again until the 2005 25th Anniversary line where his origin was corrected back to Taos, New Mexico. Freedom accompanied him on the 1985, 1989, and 2005 releases. Spirit was also released with the G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra movie action figures despite the fact that he was not portrayed in the film.
Spirit was a supporting character in the Find Your Fate Operation: Star Raider novel.
Spirit was a playable character in the 1985 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero computer game as well as a non-playable supporting character in the 1992 G.I. Joe: Atlantis Factor game.