Red Cloud: Wikis

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Red Cloud
Born Maȟpíya Lúta
1822?
near North Platte, Nebraska
Died December 10, 1909
Known for Red Cloud's War

Red Cloud (Lakota: Maȟpíya Lúta), (1822 – December 10, 1909) was a war leader of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). One of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army ever faced, he led a successful conflict in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud's War over control of the Powder River Country in northwestern 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 leader 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.

Contents

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 was an Oglala and his father was a Brulé, two of the major seven Lakota divisions. As was traditional among the matrilineal Lakota, Red Cloud was partly raised by his maternal uncle, Chief Smoke, who played a more prominent role in his life than did his father. 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, c. 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 1867. In December 1866, the Native American allies achieved 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 violence had been provoked by white encroachment and competition for resources, the commission recommended assigning 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 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 of 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 27th 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 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.

References

  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. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9802E0DD1239E733A25752C1A9649D946897D6CF. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  4. ^ "Red Cloud Gone to Final Rest". Boston Globe. December 11, 1909. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/access/712158952.html?dids=712158952:712158952&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Dec+11%2C+1909&author=&pub=Boston+Daily+Globe&desc=RED+CLOUD+GONE+TO+FINAL+REST&pqatl=google. 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. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/766170782.html?dids=766170782:766170782&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Dec+11%2C+1909&author=&pub=The+Hartford+Courant&desc=RED+CLOUD+DEAD&pqatl=google. 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." 

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