Red Cloud

Red Cloud
Red Cloud
Born Maȟpíya Lúta
near North Platte, Nebraska
Died December 10, 1909
Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota
Resting place Red Cloud Cemetery, Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Residence Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Nationality Lakota Sioux
Other names John "Red Cloud"
Known for Red Cloud's War
Successor Chief Jack Red Cloud
Religion Lakota Sioux Culture
Spouse Pretty Owl Woman
Children Jack, Mary, Lucy Red Cloud
Parents Walks As She Thinks, Chief Lone Man

Red Cloud (Lakota: Maȟpíya Lúta), (1822 – December 10, 1909) was a war leader and the head Chief of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). His reign was from 1868 to 1909. One of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army faced, he led a successful conflict in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud's War over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. After the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), he led his people in the important transition to reservation life. Some of his US opponents thought of him as overall chief of the Sioux, but this was mistaken. The large tribe had several major divisions and was highly decentralized. Bands among the Oglala and other divisions operated independently, even though some individual leaders such as Red Cloud were renowned as warriors.


Early life

Red Cloud was born close to the forks of the Platte River, near the modern-day city of North Platte, Nebraska. His mother, Walks As She Thinks was an Oglala Lakota and his father was a Brulé Lakota Chief Lone Man, two of the major seven Lakota divisions. As was traditional among the matrilineal Lakota, Red Cloud was raised by his maternal uncle, Old Chief Smoke (1774–1864), who played a prominent and major role in his early-mid life and brought him in to the Smoke Household when his parents died around 1825. At a young age, he fought against neighboring Pawnee and Crow, gaining much war experience.

Red Cloud
Standing: Red Bear, Young Man Afraid of his Horse, Good Voice, Ring Thunder, Iron Crow, White Tail, Young Spotted Tail. Seated: Yellow Bear, Jack Red Cloud, Big Road, Little Wound, Black Crow, ca. 1860-1880

Red Cloud's War

Red Cloud's War was the name the US Army gave to a series of conflicts fought with American Indian Plains tribes in the Wyoming and Montana territories. The battles were waged between the Northern Cheyenne, allied with Lakota and Arapaho bands, against the United States Army between 1866 and 1868. In December 1866, the Native American allies achieved what the whites would call the Fetterman Massacre (or the Battle of the Hundred Slain); it was the event on the Plains to that point with the highest US fatalities.[1]

Captain William J. Fetterman was sent from Fort Phil Kearny with two civilians and 79 cavalry and infantrymen to chase away a small Indian war party that had attacked a wood party days before. Captain Frederick Brown accompanied Fetterman; the two were confident in their troops and anxious to go to battle with the Indians. They disobeyed orders to stay behind the Lodge Trail Ridge and pursued a small decoy band of warriors, led by an Indian on an apparently injured horse. The decoy was the prominent warrior Crazy Horse. Fetterman and his troops followed the decoy into an ambush of over 2,000 Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Combined Indian forces suffered only 14 casualties, while they killed the entire 81-man US detachment.

Following this battle, a US peace commission toured the Plains in 1867 to gather information to help bring about peace among the tribes and with the US. Finding that much American Indian wrath had been provoked by white encroachment and competition for resources, the commission recommended assigning definite territories to the Plains tribes. The Northern Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho bands, and others settled for peace with the US under the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The US agreed to abandon its forts and withdraw completely from Lakota territory.

The Treaty of 1868

Uneasy relations between the expanding United States and the natives continued. In 1870, Red Cloud visited Washington D.C., and met with Commissioner of Indian Affairs Ely S. Parker (a Seneca Iroquois and U.S. Army General) and President Ulysses S. Grant. In 1871, the Red Cloud Agency was established on the Platte River, downstream from Fort Laramie. As outlined in the Treaty of 1868, the agency staff were responsible for issuing weekly rations to the Oglala as well as providing the annually distributed supply of annuity goods. Red Cloud took his band to the agency (a predecessor of the Indian reservation) and tried to help them in the transition to a different way of life. In the fall of 1873, the agency was removed to the upper White River in northwestern Nebraska.

The Great Sioux War of 1876–1877

Red Cloud settled at the agency with his band by the fall of 1873. He soon became embroiled in a controversy with the new Indian agent, Dr. John J. Saville.

In 1874, General George Armstrong Custer led a reconnaissance mission into Sioux territory that reported gold in the Black Hills, an area held sacred by the local Indians. Formerly, the Army tried to keep miners out but did not succeed; the threat of violence grew. In May 1875, Sioux delegations headed by Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and Lone Horn traveled to Washington, D.C. in a last-ditch attempt to persuade President Grant to honor existing treaties and stem the flow of miners into their lands. The Indians met on various occasions with Grant, Secretary of the Interior Delano, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs Smith, who finally informed them on May 27 that Congress was ready to resolve the matter by giving the tribes $25,000 for their land and resettling them into Indian Territory. The delegates refused to sign such a treaty, with Spotted Tail responding to the proposition by saying: “When I was here before, the President gave me my country, and I put my stake down in a good place, and there I want to stay.... You speak of another country, but it is not my country; it does not concern me, and I want nothing to do with it. I was not born there.... If it is such a good country, you ought to send the white men now in our country there and let us alone.”[2]

Although Red Cloud was unsuccessful in finding a peaceful solution, he did not take part in the Lakota war of 1876-1877 led by Tȟašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse) and Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull).

In the fall of 1877 the Red Cloud Agency was removed to the upper Missouri River. The following year it was removed to the forks of the White River, in present-day South Dakota, where it was renamed the Pine Ridge Reservation.

His last days

Red Cloud - NARA - 285554.tif

Red Cloud continued fighting for his people, even after being forced onto the reservation. In 1889 he opposed a treaty to sell more of the Sioux land. His steadfastness and that of Sitting Bull led government agents to obtain the necessary signatures for approval through subterfuge, such as obtaining the signatures of children. He negotiated strongly with Indian Agents such as Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy. In 1887 he opposed the Dawes Act, which allocated plots of land to heads of families and broke up communal tribal holdings, generating "excess land" which the US government sold to emigrant settlers.

Red Cloud became an important leader of the Lakota as they transitioned from the freedom of the plains to the confinement of the reservation system. His trip to Washington, DC had convinced him of the number and power of European Americans, and he believed the Oglala had to seek peace.

He outlived all the other major Sioux leaders of the Indian Wars. He died in 1909 at the age of 87 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he was buried. Announcements of his death and recognition of his contributions were made in major newspapers across the country. As had been typical of the US perception during Red Cloud's prominence in war, the article in The New York Times mistakenly described him as leader of all the Sioux bands and tribes. While he was a prominent leader, the Lakota were highly decentralized and never had one overall leader, especially of the major divisions, such as Oglala and Brulé.[3][4][5]

Red Cloud was among the Indians photographed by Edward S. Curtis. In 2000, he was posthumously selected for induction into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. He has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 10¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Note: Chief Red Cloud's reign; 1868–1909, Chief Jack Red Cloud's reign; 1909–1928, Chief James Red Cloud's reign; 1928–1960, (to his Brother, Charles) Chief Charles Red Cloud's reign; 1960–1979, Chief Oliver Red Cloud's reign; 1979–present.

Oliver Red Cloud (90 years old), is the fourth generation direct descendant of Chief Red Cloud (1822–1909). Oliver is the head Chief of the Oglala Lakota Sioux people and respected Spokesman for the Lakota Sioux Nation. He also is the Chairman of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council of today.


  1. ^ Viola, Herman J. Trail to Wounded Knee: The Last Stand of the Plains Indians 1860-1890, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2003
  2. ^ Griske, Michael (2005). The Diaries of John Hunton. Heritage Books. pp. 64–69. ISBN 0-7884-3804-2. 
  3. ^ "Red Cloud, Sioux Chief, Dead; Old Indian Warrior Caused The Massacre Of Fort Phil Kearney.". New York Times. December 11, 1909, Saturday. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Red Cloud Gone to Final Rest". Boston Globe. December 11, 1909. Retrieved 2008-05-29. "Famous Sioux Chief Lived to be 89. Rated as the Wiliest Enemy of Whites in Modern Times. Cornered in 1869, Friendly, as a Rule, Ever Since. Red Cloud, the famous old Sloux Indian chief, is dead, according to Supt Brennan of the Pine Ridge Indian agency, who is in Washington, attending the meeting of those interested in the education of the..." 
  5. ^ "Red Cloud Dead". Hartford Courant. December 11, 1909. Retrieved 2008-05-29. "Famous Sioux Indian Chief Was 86 Years Old. Red Cloud the famous old Sioux Indian chief is dead. This information was received today by Superintendent Brennan of the Pine Ridge Indian agency, who is in Washington attending the meeting of those interested in the education of the Indian." 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Red Cloud — Der Lakotahäuptling Machpiya Luta (Rote Wolke) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Red Cloud — 1822 1909; Dakota Indian chief * * * orig. Mahpiua Luta born 1822, on the Platte River, Nebraska Territory, U.S. died Dec. 10, 1909, Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. American Indian leader. The principal chief of the Oglala Teton Dakota (Sioux), he led… …   Universalium

  • RED CLOUD — (1822 1909) Chef Oglala Teton (tribu du peuple Sioux Dakota) né sur le territoire du Nebraska, Mahpiua Luta (appelé Red Cloud) s’impose par son caractère et par sa bravoure comme chef de bande et étend son influence sur d’autres groupes de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Red Cloud — Red Cloud, NE U.S. city in Nebraska Population (2000): 1131 Housing Units (2000): 618 Land area (2000): 1.020328 sq. miles (2.642636 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.020328 sq. miles (2.642636… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Red Cloud, NE — U.S. city in Nebraska Population (2000): 1131 Housing Units (2000): 618 Land area (2000): 1.020328 sq. miles (2.642636 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.020328 sq. miles (2.642636 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Red Cloud — Red′ Cloud n. big (Mahpiua Luta), 1822–1909, Lakota Indian leader …   From formal English to slang

  • Red Cloud — 1822 1909; Dakota Indian chief …   English World dictionary

  • Red Cloud — Pour la ville du Nebraska, voir Red Cloud (Nebraska). Red Cloud Red Cloud (en lakota: Maȟpíya Lúta en français Nuage rouge), né en 1821, mort le …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Red Cloud — Sp Rèd Kláudas Ap Red Cloud L JAV Vebsterio apyg. c. (Nebraska) …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

  • Red Cloud — Original name in latin Red Cloud Name in other language State code US Continent/City America/Chicago longitude 40.0889 latitude 98.5195 altitude 527 Population 1020 Date 2011 05 14 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

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