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Henry Roe (1884–1950) was a Native American who distinguished himself as an educator, college administrator, U.S. Federal Government official (in the precursor to the Bureau of Indian Affairs), Presbyterian minister, and reformer.

Henry Roe Cloud was born December 28, 1884, a member of the powerful Bird Clan, on a Winnebago Indian reservation in northeastern Nebraska and was orphaned when his parents died in 1896 and 1897. After being taught in a series of government schools, his intellectual ambition, academic performance and personal qualities brought him in 1901 to the private Mount Hermon Preparatory School (now Northfield Mount Hermon School) in Massachusetts, which had a work-study program he drew on to finance his education, and which brought him into the social circles of America's ruling elite. He graduated a salutatorian in 1906 and the school served as his conduit into the Ivy League. [1]

Cloud is believed to have been the first full-blood Native American to attend Yale College, graduating in 1910, and earning a Master's Degree there in 1912. He was a campus celebrity, not just because of his background but also due to the force of his personality and speaking skill and, in an era when rhetoric was an art, he was especially accomplished, attracting large audiences on campus and in national venues. One measure of his prestige as an undergraduate was being tapped for the Yale secret society, Elihu.

While an undergraduate, Cloud attended a lecture by the missionary, Mary Wickham Roe, a member of a prominent New England family involved in evangelical Christian mission work, and established a close relationship with her and her husband, Reverend Dr. Walter C. Roe. The couple adopted him and he took their surname as his middle name. His later career included efforts towards establishing modern schools for Native American youth, and he also became superintendent of the Haskell Institute, now known as Haskell Indian Nations University, in Lawrence, Kansas.

In a dissertation by a Purdue University scholar, Cloud's significance is described in this way: "Cloud's education, elite by any standard, allowed him throughout his public life to assume a variety of important roles. In his more than forty years of public life, Cloud acted as a reformer, an educator, and Indian Service official. As arguably the most prominent Indian figure of the 1920s and 1930s, Cloud's life demonstrates how and to what extent Indians were able to influence federal Indian policy. His life also provides a window into the close ties between progressive ideas and the evangelical Protestant Christianity that prompted and guided many of the reform efforts in the first decades of the twentieth century. Cloud's work also shows him to be capable of moving beyond this Progressive Era paradigm of assimilation and embracing new currents of reform such as the push for cultural pluralism." [2]

Henry Roe Cloud died of a heart attack in Siletz, Oregon, on February 9, 1950. He was buried in Beaverton, Oregon. An entry on Cloud is included in the American National Biography, Vol 5 (1999) and his personal papers are housed as a distinct series in the "Roe Family Papers" [3] in Sterling Memorial Library's Manuscripts and Archives collection at Yale University.

However, the majority of Henry's papers, personal photographs and documents relating to his time at Yale, the Mount Hermon school, and including theological society parchments as well as all of his papers from his work until his death in 1950 is in the care of Henry's Great Grandson, Shahn Roe Cloud Hughes in Portland, Oregon.

External links

  • Biography, Nebraska State Education Association [4]
  • Finding Aid for Roe Family Papers at Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University [5]
  • A Celebration of Henry Roe Cloud and Yale's Native American Community, 2005 conference program: [6]
  • The Henry Roe Cloud Medal, awarded by Yale [7][8]
  • Doctoral Dissertation of Jason Tetzloff, Purdue University [9] pdf [10]
  • Burns, Kathleen. "Henry Roe Cloud, Yale's First Native American Graduate." Red Ink 1 no. 1 (2006): p. 13 Ink Spring 2006


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