Chief Red Cloud (1822-1909)

Chief Red Cloud

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember.  But they kept one – They promised to take our land . . . and they took it.”

red-cloud

  • Chief Red Cloud was the famous warrior leader of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe.
  • He was born on the Platte River (Nebraska) to Walks As She Thinks and Lone Man, but after his parents died he was brought up by his uncle, Old Chief Smoke.
  • Growing up, he gained a lot of military experience against rival bands of Pawnee and Crow, which helped him earn his war-bonnet at the Fetterman Massacre with Crazy Horse.
  • Between 1866-1868 the  fought in Powder River Country (Wyoming / Montana) in a series of battles against the U.S. Army that came to be known as the Red Cloud Wars.
  • Then taking the path of diplomacy, he signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) and moved his people to the Great Sioux Reservation.
  • However, when George Armstrong Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills a stream of hungry prospectors ignored the existing treaty and invaded their sacred lands.  This triggered the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, but Red Cloud did not fight alongside Chief Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.  Instead, he tried to reason with the government in Washington D.C.
  • When his political negotiations failed, his people were forced to move to a new reservation at Pine Ridge in South Dakota.
  • He died on the reservation in 1909, at the age of 88, having seen the last of his warriors massacred at Wounded Knee.

Sources:

Biography.com, “Red Cloud: Activist, Folk Hero” at http://www.biography.com/people/red-cloud-9453402

United States History, “Red Cloud” at http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3756.html

Wikipedia, “Red Cloud” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Cloud

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