Red Cloud


Red Cloud
Red Cloud was a Sioux Indian raised in Nebraska by his uncle, Old Chief Smoke, after the deaths of his parents. While still a young man, he fought in battles against the neighboring Pawnee and Crow tribes, gaining experience and rising in reputation.

Shortly before his own reign as chief, Red Cloud led his people in a series of successful battles, known as Red Cloud’s War, over control of the Powder River Valley. The war concluded with the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which guaranteed Sioux ownership of the Black Hills as well as land in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Red Cloud became chief of the Oglala Sioux in 1868. In 1870, he visited Washington, D.C., where he met with President Ulysses S. Grant and established the Red Cloud Agency—a predecessor of the Indian reservation—along the Platte River. Red Cloud took his tribe to the agency, but they were only able to remain there for two years, after which they were moved to the upper White River in northern Nebraska.

In 1874, General George Custer led a band of troops into the territory, where they reported finding gold in the Black Hills. The Army at first tried to keep out miners, but tensions grew, and soon Red Cloud traveled once more to Washington, where he attempted to persuade Grant to honor the existing treaties prohibiting settlers from entering sacred native lands. Congress instead offered to move them into reservation territory and compensate them financially, but the Sioux leaders refused such an agreement. Red Cloud was unable to find a peaceful solution, but he did not participate in the Great Sioux War that followed, and after its conclusion his Agency was moved to present-day South Dakota. Red Cloud continued to be an active voice for his people, opposing the Dawes Act of 1887 and refusing to sell any more Sioux land than had already been lost. He died at the age of 87, and in 2000 he was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

Key events during the life of Red Cloud:

Parents died.
Red Cloud’s War.
Became a Sioux chief.
  Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Met with President Grant in Washington, D.C.
Red Cloud Agency was established on the Platte River.
Was moved to the White River area in northwestern Nebraska.
Travelled to Washington to persuade Grant to honor longtime Indian treaties.
Great Sioux War.
Opposed the Dawes Act.
Refused to sign a treaty that would give up more Sioux land.
Inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Indian Wars  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Red Cloud  in  Indian Heroes and the Great Chieftains  by  Charles A. Eastman
Red Cloud  in  Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known  by  Oliver Otis Howard
On the Trail of the Dog Soldiers  in  Boys' Book of Border Battles  by  Edwin L. Sabin
Relief for Beecher's Island  in  Frontier Fighters  by  Edwin L. Sabin
Red Cloud Stands in the Way  in  Boy's Book of Indian Warriors  by  Edwin L. Sabin

Image Links

Sioux Chief forbidding passage through his country
 in Indian History for Young Folks

An attack on a wagon-train by Red Cloud's Sioux warriors
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known

Red Cloud
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known

Red Cloud
 in Boy's Book of Indian Warriors

Short Biography
Ulysses Grant Commander and Chief of the Union forces in the Civil War, and President of the United States.
Chief Joseph Led Nez Perces in a resistance against the encroachment of white settlers. Finally surrendered.
Washakie Shoshone Indian War Chief
Sarah Winnemucca Daughter of Chief Winnemucca. Served as translator between Piutes and U.S. Army. Wrote a book.