Red Cloud

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Red Cloud
Red Cloud

Red Cloud (Sioux: Makhpyia-luta), (1822December 10, 1909) was a chief of the Oglala Sioux. One of the deadliest enemies the American military ever faced, he led the successful war in 18661868 (known as Red Cloud's War) against the United States over control of the Powder River Country in northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana.


Early life

He was born close to the forks of the Platte River by the modern-day city of North Platte, Nebraska. His mother was an Oglala and his father (who died young) was a Brulé. Red Cloud was partly raised by his maternal uncle, Chief Smoke. As a youth, he fought against neighboring Pawnee and Sioux, gaining much military experience.

Campaign against the Americans

In 1866, he began the most successful war an Indian nation ever waged against the American military (see Red Cloud's War). The American military was constructing forts along the Bozeman Trail straight through Lakota territory of modern-day Wyoming to Montana gold country from South Platte River in Colorado. Settlers and miners started across Lakota land, and Red Cloud saw visions of the expulsion of the Lakota from Minnesota in 1862, and in 1863 Red Cloud attacked.

Red Cloud attained spectacular victories. The government was forced into the Treaty of Fort Laramie . The United States had to abandon all forts on the Bozeman Trail and give the Lakota possession in what is now the Western half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills, and much of Montana and Wyoming.

A short-term peace

But peace only lasted until the American military re-formed. In 1874, general George Armstrong Custer attacked Red Cloud. Red Cloud did not take part in the Lakota war of 187677 with Crazy Horse (Tasunka witko), Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake), and other war leaders.

His last days

Red Cloud continued to fight for the freedom of his people, even after being defeated. Later at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he fought Indian agents including Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy and some of the Pine Ridge natives. He opposed the Dawes Act.

He never was part of the Ghost Dance movement.

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