Saturday, May 28, 2016

Native American Biographies: Red Cloud: Sioux Chief

Red Cloud Oglala Sioux: Red Cloud resisted European Westward expansion, and then when he saw that it was inevitable he helped his people adjust to the new way of life.  As a young man he went on war parties against the Crow, Ute and Pawnee.  He took his first scalp at age sixteen.  His exploits were well known, killing four in one battle, and capturing 50 ponies in another.  He was involved in an incident where he killed the leader of the Koya Band of Oglala which lead to a split with the Bad Face or Old Smoke Band to which Red Cloud belonged.  Over the years there was a greater and greater White presence, rail roads, telegraph wires and pioneers.  Gold was discovered in the Montana area.  When forts were built to defend the Bozeman Trail the Sioux and Cheyenne finally had too much.  Some Sioux agreed to the forts, but Red Cloud held out.  This lead to what later became known as Red Cloud's War.  He and his man almost completely closed travel on the trail.  He gained victory over Captain William J. Fetterman and 82 soldiers were killed.  This was the worst defeat for the U.S. on the plains until Little Big Horn.  The U.S. government dealt with Red Cloud as the head chief of the Sioux, although he was not.  Red Cloud hoped to gain a permanent reservation and withdrawal of troops on Sioux lands.  He felt this was better policy than the extermination of the Indians which some Whites proposed.  A reservation was granted, but then gold was discovered on part of the reservation.  This lead to the Sioux War of 1876-77.  Red Cloud cautiously talked against this conflict.
Red Cloud lived in a tumultuous period.  The economic system of the Sioux was totally disruptive with the over=hunting and demise of the buffalo.  On the reservation, there were continued efforts to destroy traditional culture.  In this environment Red Cloud tried to balance his response.  There were political conflicts with Indian agents.  However there was also negative talk from Indians thinking he had given too much, or was too accommodating to Whites.  During the Ghost Dance Movement, his silence was interpreted as acceptance.  He was balancing on a tight rope.  He was not able to satisfy everyone. 

No comments:

Post a Comment