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Red Cloud

Red Cloud

Chief of the proud Oglala Sioux tribe, Red Cloud (1822-1909) saw his people defeated and forced onto United States reservations.

Born on a tributary of the North Platte River in Nebraska, Red Cloud early distinguished himself as a warrior. By the 1860s Makhpiyaluta (his Native American name) was leading his own band of warriors and had gained an important reputation. In the Sioux War of 1865-1868 he was war chief of all the Oglala. In 1866 he learned of the U.S. government's intention to build the Bozeman Trail and to construct three forts along it; this road would run through land guaranteed by treaty to the Sioux. Red Cloud gathered 1,500 to 2,000 warriors and in December lured Capt. W. J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers into a trap and massacred them. Only the severe cold of winter prevented his overrunning the post itself.

Though at the famous Wagon Box Fight of August 1867 Red Cloud saw the deadly accuracy of the U.S. Army's new rifles, the government conceded defeat in 1868. The Bozeman Trail was closed and the forts abandoned. The Sioux happily set fire to these forts while Red Cloud went to Ft. Laramie, Wyo. Here on Nov. 6, 1868, he signed a treaty that, unknown to him, provided for reservations and the cession of certain tribal lands. Finding out the terms of the treaty, angry young warriors turned more and more to the militant leader Crazy Horse. In 1870 Red Cloud journeyed to New York and Washington, D.C., to clarify the treaty and to speak in defense of the Sioux. His speeches aroused public opinion to the extent that the government revised the treaty. A special agency for the Oglala Sioux was created on the North Platte River.

Thereafter Red Cloud counseled his people to remain peaceful. He frequently charged the government agents with fraud, graft, and corruption, but he advised the Oglala to be loyal to the U.S. government. During the final Sioux War, of 1875-1876, though he opposed the war faction led by Crazy Horse, he refused to cede the Black Hills. In 1881 Red Cloud was removed as chief. Thereafter he declined in prestige and importance. His tribe was moved to the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota following the final Sioux War. He became blind in his later years and died at the Pine Ridge Agency on Dec. 10, 1909.

Further Reading

The best account of Red Cloud is James C. Olson, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem (1965). Still excellent is Earl A. Brininstool, Fighting Indian Warriors (rev. ed. 1953; original title, Fighting Red Cloud's Warriors, 1926). An assessment by a contemporary of Red Cloud is James H. Cook, Fifty Years on the OldFrontier as Cowboy, Hunter, Guide, Scout, and Ranchman (1923; new ed. 1957). □

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Red Cloud

Red Cloud (1822–1909), Oglala Sioux leader.Born near the forks of the Platte River, Nebraska, Red Cloud became a leader (shirt‐wearer) in the “Bad Faces” military lodge for his exploits against enemy Pawnees, Utes, and Crows. Concerned about white encroachments, he launched “Red Cloud's War” in 1866–67 against the army's Bozeman Trail posts. During several engagements, especially the annihilation of William J. Fetterman's eighty‐man column outside Fort Phil Kearny, his followers proved a match for the bluecoats.

In the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), the government conceded to Red Cloud's demands that the Bozeman Trail forts be abandoned. Thereafter he adopted a more conciliatory stance, apparently convinced that his people stood little chance of winning a war against the United States. Made a “chief” by federal officials, he was in 1876 stripped of this position, only to regain government recognition the following year after helping to convince Crazy Horse to surrender. Red Cloud sought to maintain traditional ways among his people while demanding that the U.S. government honor its treaty obligations. Controversial for both his decision to abandon military methods and his stubborn determination to preserve tribal customs, his diplomacy was aimed at mitigating the effects of the Oglalas' transition to reservation life.
[See also Plains Indians Wars.]

Bibliography

James C. Olson , Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, 1965.
Robert W. Larson , Red Cloud: Warrior‐Statesman of the Lahota Sioux, 1997.

Robert Wooster

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"Red Cloud." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Red Cloud." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/red-cloud

"Red Cloud." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/red-cloud

Red Cloud

Red Cloud, b. 1821 or 1822, d. 1909, Oglala Sioux chief, b. near the Platte River in present-day Nebraska. He led the Native American fight against the establishment of the Bozeman Trail (see Bozeman, John M.) in what became known as "Red Cloud's War" (1866–68). The Fetterman Massacre (see Fetterman, William Judd) in 1866 led to partial abandonment of the trail. Red Cloud's hostility led the government finally to abandon completely (1868) the trail and the forts built to protect it. After signing a treaty he lived in peace with the whites, although he was later charged with duplicity in encouraging hostile Native Americans. Deposed as chief in 1881, he lived thereafter on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

See The Autobiography of Red Cloud: War Leader of the Ogalalas (1997), ed. by R. E. Paul; biography by B. Drury and T. Clavin (2013); J. C. Olson, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem (1965).

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"Red Cloud." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Red Cloud." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/red-cloud

"Red Cloud." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/red-cloud