Red Cloud, the English name of Makhpiya Luta, the Oglala Sioux chief, and his followers were prominent participants in the Powder River War of 1865 and other subsequent battles. The chief himself was a significant player in the failure of the army's 1865 Powder River Campaign against the Sioux, commanded by Major General Patrick E. Connor. The inability of the Connor campaign to bring about "peace by force" precipitated the U.S. Government's policy of negotiation that soon followed. By the time peace negotiations took place at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in June 1866, Red Cloud was labeled as the principal chief of the "hostiles" by government officials. Any treaty of consequence, therefore, demanded his approval. Red Cloud, however, withdrew from the talks and even more bitter warfare followed.
Two years later, Red Cloud returned to sign the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, finally accepting reservation status. In 1877, Red Cloud, having been deposed as chief by General Crook the previous year, personally convinced Crazy Horse to surrender. As a reward, Red Cloud was allowed to resume leadership of the Oglalas. It was a bitter sweet accomplishment since Crazy Horse was slain while in custody and, over the next thirty years, Red Cloud witnessed the erosion of his people's way of life.
Red Cloud was a close friend of rancher James Cook. A frequent guest in Cook's home, Red Cloud gave him many gifts, including weapons, clothing, and photographs. The 700 remarkable items in the Red Cloud collection are housed at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument north of Mitchell on Highway 29.
* On March 22, 2001, the bust of Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakotas was unveiled beside those of twenty-two other noted Nebraskans in the Hall of Fame at the State Capitol. Red Cloud was elected to the hall of Fame in 2000 by the Nebraska Hall of Fame commission. he joins chief standing Bear (Ponca) and Indian rights advocate, Susette La Flesche Tibbles (Omaha) to become the third Native American in the Hall of Fame.
As warrior-statesman of the Oglala Lakotas, Red Could led his people both in war and peace. following his birth at Blue water Creek in western Nebraska in 1821, Red Cloud rose to prominence as a warrior. He became the only Native American leader to win a major war against the United States when, in 1866-68 he forced the government to abandon the Bozeman Trail that crossed lands claimed by the Lakotas.
In 1868, Red Cloud negotiated the fort Laramie Treaty that set aside a vast reservation for this people in western south Dakota, including the Black Hills. From 1873 to 1877, Red Cloud's agency was located in northwestern Nebraska.
During the remainder of this life, Red Cloud employed diplomacy in tenacious but futile effort to protect Lakota lands and culture from government policies that eroded or nullified the Fort Laramie Treaty. Despite numerous visits to Washington to negotiate on behalf of this people, Red Cloud was unable to stem the tide of white encroachment that reduced the great Sioux reservation to mere remnants and destroyed much of traditional Lakota culture.
He died at Pine Ridge Agency on December 20, 1909.
* Nebraska State Historical Society Historical
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