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RED CLOUD by Robert W. Larson


Warrior-Statesman of the Lakota Sioux

by Robert W. Larson

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8061-2930-1
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

 A readable biography of Lakota chief Red Cloud that attempts to untangle the many conflicting accounts of this key figure in 19th-century America. Larson, a retired professor of history (Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley), places the rather scanty and unreliable information we have about Red Cloud's life within the larger context of Indian tribal conflicts, the Anglo-Indian wars, and the eventual peace that was established between the Indians and the conquering Anglo-Americans. Born in 1821 to a Lakota Sioux band and well known for his valor on the battlefield (against both whites and other Indians), he became the acknowledged leader of his tribe. As he was nearing 40, however, and past his physical prime, Red Cloud was content to leave the fighting to younger warriors, such as Crazy Horse, and focus his attentions on political dealings with the US government. Representing the Lakotas, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, Red Cloud signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, making peace with the whites. But though he was a tough negotiator, the government was in fact heeding its own interests when it conceded to him many of his demands. It had discovered that supporting the Indians was more economical than fighting them, and determined to move the Lakota Sioux onto reservations. Red Cloud agreed to the condition--against the wishes of other Sioux chiefs- -although it would not be until two years later, after his first visit to Washington to meet the ``Great White Father,'' that he would begin his long career on the reservation. There he continued to be a vital spokesman for his people, helping to preserve their land and their heritage. He died in 1909. A good start, although the man behind the legend still remains cloaked in mystery. (21 illustrations and 1 map, not seen)