Red Cloud was born in 1822. At the age of 16 he took his first scalp during a raid on the Pawnee tribe. Soon afterwards he killed a Crow chief. He developed a reputation as a courageous but cruel warrior and in one raid on a Pawnee village killed four men. He also scalped a member of the Ute tribe in another raid. Red Cloud also killed Bull Bear, a notorious leader of Koya tribe. In 1854 Red Cloud took part in the Grattan Massacre near Fort Laramie.
In 1865 Red Cloud played a major role in the Plains War. This included the attack at Platte Bridge in July, 1865. After a series of such attacks Red Cloud, now the chief of the Oglala Sioux, began negotiating with the army based at Fort Laramie about the decision to allow emigrants to settle on the last of the great Sioux hunting grounds. When he was unable to reach agreement with the army negotiators he resorted to sending out war parties that attacked emigrants and army patrols. These hit and run tactics were difficult for the army to deal with and be the time they arrived on the scene of the attack the war parties had disappeared.
On 21st December, 1866, Captain W. J. Fetterman and an army column of 80 men, were involved in protecting a team taking wood to Fort Phil Kearny. Although under orders not to "engage or pursue Indians" Fetterman gave the orders to attack a group of Sioux warriors. The warriors ran away and drew the soldiers into a clearing surrounded by a much larger force. All the soldiers were killed in what became known as the Fetterman Massacre. Later that day the stripped and mutilated bodies of the soldiers were found by a patrol led by Captain Ten Eyck.
Red Cloud and his men continued to attack soldiers trying to protect the Bozeman Trail. On 2nd August, 1867, several thousand Sioux and Cheyennes attacked a wood-cutting party led by Captain James W. Powell. The soldiers had recently been issued with Springfield rifles and this enabled them to inflict heavy casualties on the warriors. After a battle that lasted four and a half hours, the Native Americans withdrew. Six soldiers died during the fighting and Powell claimed that his men had killed about 60 warriors.
Despite this victory the army was unable to successfully protect the Bozeman Trail and on 4th November, 1868, Red Cloud and 125 chiefs were invited to Fort Laramie to discuss the conflict. As a result of these negotiations the American government withdrew the garrisons protecting the emigrants travelling along the trail to Montana. Red Cloud and his warriors then burnt down the forts.
The following year Red Cloud arrived at Fort Laramie and demanded his people should be given food. He also became involved in trading with the people living in the fort.
In May 1870 Red Cloud was taken to Washington to talk to senior members of the American government. However, at these meetings he refused to accept the proposal for his people to live on a reservation in Missouri. He also visited New York. Eventually he agreed to live at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Red Cloud died on the Pine Ridge on 10th December, 1909.
Red Cloud's War
The 1860s brought new attention from both whites and Indians to the northeast corner of what soon would become Wyoming Territory. First, a gold frenzy in Montana Territory drew miners north from the emigrant road that followed the North Platte River. Mountain man Jim Bridger warned against establishing a trail through the Arapaho and Lakota hunting grounds, urging that another path west of the Bighorns be used instead. But the Powder River Basin route was the most direct and, in 1863, John Bozeman, following ancient routes long used by Indians, blazed the Bozeman Trail through the middle of the basin.
Meanwhile in 1864, Col. John M. Chivington led a detachment of Colorado volunteer troops that massacred about 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women and children at a peaceful camp on Sand Creek near the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado Territory. The furious survivors fled north to the Powder River country and Black Hills, attacking white settlements and army posts along the way. Early in 1865, bands of the Cheyenne, Oglala Lakota and Arapaho tribes set up huge camps on the Tongue and Powder rivers in northern Wyoming. That summer, thousands of warriors moved south and on July 26, 1865 attacked Platte Bridge Station, an army post where the emigrant road crossed the North Platte, and killed 26 men. Among them were Lt. Caspar W. Collins, for whom the city of Casper, Wyo., is named.
In hopes of protecting the Bozeman Trail, the U.S. military launched the 1865 Powder River Expedition, under District of the Plains Commander Brig. Gen. Patrick Connor, to subdue the aggressive Indian forces in the Powder River country. Three disorganized columns of troops marched north: one, accompanied by Connor, followed the Bozeman Trail, built Fort Connor on the Powder River east of present-day Kaycee, Wyo., and ambushed an Arapaho village on the Tongue River near present-day Ranchester, Wyo.
Connor’s party also had to rescue the Sawyers Expedition, attacked by those same Arapahos while trying to survey the trail to the Montana Territory gold fields. A second column, led by Col. Samuel Walker, made its way east of the Powder River toward Montana, and the third, led by Col. Nelson Cole, crossed Nebraska Territory and met up with Walker north of the Black Hills. Walker’s and Cole’s men suffered from terrible weather, dying animals, confusion in the badlands and demoralization, and limped into Fort Connor as “the sorriest army ever seen in Wyoming,” according to historian T. A. Larson.
In 1866, the U. S. Interior Department called upon thousands of Brulé and Oglala Lakota to meet at Fort Laramie for a treaty that would allow settlers and speculators safe passage on the Bozeman Trail. At the same time, the U. S. War Department sent Col. Henry B. Carrington into the Powder River Basin at the head of 700 troops. This move angered the Oglala leader Red Cloud, who refused to sign the treaty and instead, Oglala Lakota warriors with their Cheyenne and Arapaho allies in the Powder River country, launched what became known as Red Cloud’s War.
Carrington moved Fort Connor a few miles downriver and renamed it Fort Reno, and then went on to build Fort Phil Kearny on Little Piney Creek near present-day Story, Wyo. Later that summer, he also built Fort C. F. Smith in southern Montana Territory.
In December, a band of Oglala and Minniconjou Lakota warriors led by Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and High-Back-Bone lured Captain W. J. Fetterman over a rise near Fort Phil Kearny and into a trap. Within half an hour, Fetterman and all 80 of his men were dead. Their bodies were stripped, scalped and mutilated by the Indians.
The survivors at the fort feared another attack and a civilian scout, “Portugee” John Phillips, agreed to ride for help. Accompanied at times by various other riders, he traveled at night and reached Fort Laramie, 236 miles away, just four days later, on Christmas. It took a relief force until mid January to make its way to Fort Phil Kearny. Col. Carrington was blamed for the massacre and relieved of his command, although court hearings determined Capt. Fetterman had disobeyed Carrington’s orders and was at fault.
The Army the following spring began planning a large expedition into the Powder River country to whip the Lakota into submission. But Grenville Dodge, chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad, then building westward out of Nebraska toward Cheyenne, feared an expedition north would leave the railroad vulnerable to Indian attack. The U.P. reached what’s now southwest Wyoming by the end of 1868. While four military forts protected the railroad during construction, their purpose was as much to instill order into the railroad workers as to protect them from Indian attacks, infrequent along that route after 1866.
In the summer of 1867, meanwhile, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and High-Back-Bone led another attack near Fort Phil Kearny. This time, they ambushed a woodcutting party and its military escort about five miles from the fort. This fight turned out much differently than the Fetterman Massacre. Thirty-two men lifted the boxes from 14 wagons and arranged them into a makeshift corral. From this fortification, they fired new Springfield-Allen breech-loading rifles, much faster to reload than any guns the Indians had previously encountered. By the end of the day, only four members of the woodcutting party had been killed. Indians counted their own dead at six white estimates of Indian deaths in the fight ranged from 60 to 1,500.
After these battles and several smaller attacks, there was another treaty meeting at Fort Laramie. The 1868 treaty granted the land north of the Platte River from the Bighorns to South Dakota Territory to the Indians. Troops pulled out of Fort Phil Kearny and while they marched away, smoke billowed up behind them as Cheyenne warriors burned it to the ground, marking the end of Red Cloud’s War.
Early Days of Red Cloud
Red Cloud was born in 1822 in what is today’s Nebraska and was named after an interesting weather phenomenon in the form of crimson clouds that appeared when he came into the world. His father, Lone Man, was from a tribe called Brule Sioux and his mother Walks as She Thinks was a part of the Oglala Sioux tribe. When Red Cloud was around five years of age, his father died and the Oglala Sioux tribe’s leader who also was his mother’s uncle, took him under his wing.
While growing up, Red Cloud showed extraordinary courage and skill in the battles which his tribe led against other Native American tribes, so much so that he was revered for his acts of bravery. He also became very skilled at hunting which was essential for a young warrior as well.
Biography of Red Cloud
Red Cloud (Makhpiya-luta, `scarlet Cloud,’ frequently known among his people as Makhpia-sha, ‘Red Cloud’). A principal chief of the Oglala Teton Sioux of Pine Ridge reservation, the largest band of the Sioux nation, and probably the most famous and powerful chief in the history of the tribe. The origin of the name is disputed, but is said by ex-agent McGillycuddy 1 to refer to the way in which his scarlet-blanketed warriors formerly covered the hillsides like a red cloud. If this be true, the name was bestowed after he had obtained recognition as a leader.
Red Cloud was born at the forks of Platte River, Nebraska, in 1822, and died at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Dec. 10, 1909. He was a member of the Snake family, the most distinguished and forceful of his tribe, and rose to prominence by his own force of character, having no claim to hereditary chiefship, which in the Oglala band rested with the family represented by They-fear-even-his-horse (“Youngman-afraid-of-his-horses”), the latter being more conservative and more friendly toward civilization.
Red Cloud’s father died of drunkenness brought about by the introduction of liquor into the tribe without stint, commencing about 1821. When in 1865 the Government undertook to build a road from Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, on the North Platte, by way of Powder River to the gold regions of Montana, Red Cloud headed the opposition for his tribe, on the ground that the influx of travel along the trial would destroy the best remaining buffalo ground of the Indians. The first small detachment of troops sent out to begin construction work were intercepted by Red Cloud with a large party of Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne, and held practically as prisoners for more than two weeks, but finally were allowed to proceed when it seemed to the chief that they might be massacred by his young men. In the fall of the same year commissioners were sent to treat with the Oglala for permission to build the road, but Red Cloud forbade the negotiations and refused to attend the council.
On June 30, 1866, another council for the same purpose was called at Ft Laramie, Red Cloud this time attending and repeating his refusal to endanger the hunting grounds of his people. While he was speaking, a strong force of troops under Gen. Carrington arrived, and on being told, in reply to a question, that they had come to build forts and open the road to Montana, he seized his rifle and with a final defiant message left the council with his entire following. Carrington then set out on his mission, which included the rebuilding and garrisoning of Fort Reno, on powder River, and the establishment of Fort Phil Kearny and Fort C. F. Smith, the last named being on Bighorn River, in Montana.
Another protest to Carrington himself proving ineffectual, Red Cloud surrounded the troops and working force at Fort Kearny with perhaps 2,000 warriors and harassed them so constantly that not even a load of hay could be brought in from the prairie except under the protection of a strong guard, while it was made impossible to venture out after the game that was abundant all around. On Dec. 21, 1866, an entire detachment of 81 men under Capt. Fetterman was cut off and every man killed. On Aug. 1, 1867, another severe engagement occurred near the post. In all this time not a single wagon had been able to pass over the road, and in 1868 another commission was appointed to come to terms with Red Cloud, who demanded as an ultimatum the abandonment of the three posts and of all further attempts to open the Montana road.
A treaty was finally made on this basis, defining the limits of the Sioux country as claimed by the Sioux, Red Cloud refusing to sign or even to be present until the garrisons had actually been withdrawn, thus winning a complete victory for the position which he had taken from the beginning. He finally affixed his signature at Ft Laramie, Nov. 6, 1868. From that date he seems to have kept his promise to live at peace with the whites, although constantly resisting the innovations of civilization.
He took no active part in the Sioux war of 1876, although he is accused of having secretly aided and encouraged the hostiles. Being convinced of the hopelessness of attempting to hold the Black Hills after the discovery of gold in that region, he joined in the agreement of cession in 1876. In the outbreak of 1890-91 also he remained quiet, being then an old man and partially blind, and was even said to have been threatened by the hostiles on account of his loyal attitude toward the Government.
As a warrior Red Cloud stood first among his people, having counted 80 coups (q. v.) or separate deeds of bravery in battle. As a general and statesman he ranked equally high, having been long prominent in treaties and councils, and several times a delegate to Washington, his attitude having been always that of a patriot from the Indian standpoint. Unlike Indians generally, he had but one wife, with whom he lived from early manhood. Personally he is described by one well acquainted with him as a most courtly chief and a natural born gentleman with a bow as graceful as that of a Chesterfield. For some years before his death he was blind and decrepit, and lived in a house built for him by the Government. His immediate band is known as Iteshicha (q. v.)
Red Cloud and the Lakota
O n December 10, 1909, Red Cloud died poor, blind, and discouraged. Thus passed one of America’s most famous warriors and statesmen. In his day, this Oglala Lakota leader was a household name. His experience in the second half of the nineteenth century personified the experiences of the Lakota, a northern plains American Indian tribe known by its enemies as the “Sioux.”
Red Cloud was born in 1822 in what is now Nebraska, near the Platte River. The Lakota lived in a rich land that reached northwest into the Powder River Country of what is now Wyoming and Montana. The land onto which their ancestors had moved generations before teemed with game and waterfowl. The introduction of horses had made hunting easier and enabled the seven tribes of the band to become wealthy. Their economy centered on buffalo, and goods they could not produce themselves they obtained from the traders who came through their territory every once in awhile. Otherwise there was little contact with white Americans in the East.
That isolation disappeared during the American Civil War. In 1864, miner John Bozeman blazed a trail directly through the Powder River hunting lands to the newly discovered mines in what is now Montana. Red Cloud was by then a well-known fighter, famous for his mercilessness and his great height – six and a half feet, according to an awed reporter, although this was likely generous – and he emerged as the leader of Lakota resistance to the miners and settlers who crossed the tribe’s lands. With the Civil War distracting the U.S. Army, Lakota warriors, aided by members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, pushed interlopers out of their hunting grounds.
In the summer of 1865, after winning a war to spread the northern system of individual enterprise to the American West, the U.S. government became determined to push back the Lakota who seemed to be standing in the way of that system. Miners, farmers, storekeepers, cowboys, and railroad men stood poised to rush into the rich northern plains. The Lakota promised to kill them if they tried. To break Indian resistance, General U. S. Grant put General William Tecumseh Sherman, fresh from his total war in the South, in charge of defending eastern emigrants from Lakota attacks.
In 1866, Sherman negotiated a treaty with some Lakota leaders. When Union reinforcements arrived during the negotiations, though, Red Cloud and legendary fighter Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse accused Sherman of bad faith and vowed to fight. Sherman misjudged the situation. He believed the angry Lakota were only a few outliers and that settlement would soon overrun the Indians. But Red Cloud was so effectively marshaling his warriors into resistance that the ensuing fights would be known as Red Cloud’s War.
While Sherman plotted to push Lakotas onto a reservation that would keep them away from the transcontinental railroad, soldiers marched up the Bozeman Trail and built forts to protect the miners and settlers pouring into the region. The army had established Fort Reno in 1865 soldiers built Fort Phil Kearny, then marched another ninety miles to the Bighorn River and knocked together Fort C. F. Smith. But Americans were tired of war, and the troops at the forts were understaffed, underequipped, and undertrained.
In December 1866, trouble erupted when an arrogant and inexperienced officer at Fort Phil Kearny, Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Fetterman, set out to whip the Lakota once and for all. Ignoring orders to stay close to the fort, Fetterman led his eighty men directly into an ambush. Red Cloud and his men killed Fetterman’s entire party. By summer 1867, the Lakota forces controlled the Bozeman Trail and the Powder River Country, keeping the troops holed up in their raw forts. In August, the Lakota attacked men haying near Fort C. F. Smith. The soldiers drove them off, but the next day, the warriors returned. They descended on a corral made of wagon boxes near Fort Phil Kearny, killing an officer and five soldiers. Within days of the “Wagon Box Fight,” Lakota warriors attacked a Union Pacific freight train in Nebraska, causing the president of the Union Pacific to warn the Secretary of War that construction on the road would have to stop unless the government protected the railroad workers.
Government officials decided they could not defend both the Bozeman Trail and the transcontinental railroad. In 1868, they decided to negotiate a treaty with Red Cloud promising to abandon the Bozeman Trail if the Lakota would leave the railroad alone. For his part, Red Cloud refused to talk until all the troops left Forts Phil Kearny and C. F. Smith. The government had little choice. It abandoned Forts Reno, Phil Kearny, and C. F. Smith, and agreed that the Lakota could follow the buffalo so long as they stopped attacking the railroad. By August, the troops had left the forts and Red Cloud’s people burned Forts C. F. Smith and Phil Kearny.
The Lakota had won their war against the U.S. Army. Red Cloud signed the treaty, but announced that, while he and his people agreed to stop killing settlers, they would not change their way of life.
Red Cloud’s victory was short-lived. The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie promised that the army would leave the Bozeman Trail, but it also established what became known as the Great Sioux Reservation, a 22 million-acre tract of land where government officials would force Red Cloud and his horse warriors into farming. Having signed the treaty, Red Cloud ceded his role as a resistance leader role to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. These two marshaled the forces that fought the U.S. Army in the mid-1870s while Red Cloud took up the mantle of a negotiator. In that capacity, he proved as effective as he had as a fighter, although without the accolades of a military leader.
But no matter how well he negotiated, Red Cloud could not stop the press of settlers into Lakota territory. After the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, the government took the Black Hills and forced the Lakota onto what was known as the Great Sioux Reservation. In 1889, it took even more land, dividing the original reservation into six, much smaller, reservations. By then, Red Cloud had grown old and lost his sight. Government officials built him a frame house on the Pine Ridge Reservation, a district that still bears the distinction of being the poorest in the United States.
Home of Chief Red Cloud at Pine Ridge Agency. (Photo: Library of Congress)
At the turn of the century, an anthropologist came to Pine Ridge to interview the old leader. Through an interpreter, Red Cloud sadly told the interviewer about the free “buffalo days” of the past. Then the old man took his visitor outside and told him to look around the poor, barren valley that Red Cloud himself could no longer see. “Think of it!” he said. “I, who used to own rich soil in a well-watered country so extensive that I could not ride through it in a week on my fastest pony, am put down here!” The government had promised to feed and support the Indians, he said, but now they had to beg for food. If they complained too much, officers put them in jail. The young people were going bad, the old were dying. “Young man,” he told the anthropologist, “I wish there was someone to help my poor people when I am gone.”
Share this Article:
About the Author
Historian. Author. Professor. Budding Curmudgeon. Heather Cox Richardson studies the contrast between image and reality in America, especially in politics.
The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School
Red Cloud Indian School welcomes visitors year round to learn the history of the Lakota people and the vibrancy of Lakota arts and culture today. Tour our historic campus, where Chief Red Cloud himself is laid to rest. Experience Lakota and other Native art exhibits in The Heritage Center fine arts gallery and support local Lakota artists by purchasing authentic Native-made goods in our gift shop.
Chief Red Cloud (1822-1909) was a great leader who fiercely defended the lands and rights of the Oglala Lakota. As the U.S. government encroached further and further on tribal sovereignty throughout the nineteenth century, Chief Red Cloud, or Maȟpíya Lúta as he is known to the Lakota, recognized that education was essential to the future survival of his people. In 1888, he joined with the Jesuits, or “black robes,” to create a school for Lakota children at the southern end of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Over 130 years later, the organization that bears his name—Red Cloud Indian School—continues to honor his spirit and his deep commitment to his people. By teaching Lakota history and spirituality, by actively revitalizing the endangered Lakota language, and by creating opportunity for Lakota artists, we are working to deepen understanding of Lakota heritage, culture, and values.
We welcome all visitors to join us at Red Cloud—to learn more about the history of the Lakota people and to experience the vibrancy of Lakota arts and culture today.
A Red Cloud graduate will guide you on a tour of our beautiful campus and the historic cemetery where Chief Red Cloud himself is laid to rest. As part of your tour, you will experience Lakota and other Native art exhibits in The Heritage Center gallery. You’ll also have the opportunity to purchase authentic Native-made goods in The Heritage Center’s gift shop—and help to provide a sustainable source of income for local Lakota artists on the Pine Ridge Reservation. We look
forward to welcoming you!
Due to our campus being closed to visitors we are unable to offer in-person tours.
We are happy to share these virtual tours until we can see you in person.
Holy Rosary Church Tour
You will walk you through the special details of our new church and showcase its award-winning architecture and design.
Historic Cemetery Tour
We will walk you through our historic cemetery on our Red Cloud campus. This cemetery is the final resting place of community members, Indian Scouts, Jesuits, Franciscan Nuns, and Chief Red Cloud.
Red Cloud Indian School is situated in the beautiful rolling hills of the Pine Ridge Reservation, southwest of the majestic Badlands and just north of the Nebraska border. Your guided tour includes a walk around campus, including visiting Chief Red Cloud’s memorial gravesite and a look inside our award-winning Holy Rosary Church, which honors both the Catholic and Lakota values that have shaped Red Cloud’s history. After a formally guided tour, guests can view Lakota and other Native American fine arts in The Heritage Center’s gallery and purchase handmade jewelry and other Lakota arts in our onsite gift shop. During the summer, visitors can experience the Red Cloud Indian Art Show—the largest and longest-running Native art exhibition of its kind and one of only a few held in an indigenous community.
Throughout the tour you will learn about:
- Chief Red Cloud’s vision for a school on the Pine Ridge Reservation—and its extraordinary success in empowering Lakota students today
- The history of the Lakota people, and the trauma and injustices that unfolded during the reservation era, and the cultural revitalization that is happening on the reservation today.
- The importance and prevalence of the arts in Lakota communities—and how Lakota artists are keeping traditional practices alive today.
As well as being staff members, our tour guides are all graduates of Red Cloud Indian School.
Authors Tell Untold Story Of Sioux Warrior Red Cloud
A new biography chronicles the extraordinary life of the Sioux warrior Red Cloud. In the 1860's, when settlers were encroaching on Sioux territory, he led — and won — a two-year war against the U.S. Renee Montagne talks with authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin about the book, The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend.
Not long after the Civil War, America waged another war, one that's almost been lost to history. It was 1866. Settlers were pouring westward in wagon trains to farm or mine for gold, pushing onto the land of the American Indians. That's when the great Sioux warrior Red Cloud decided: no more. His territory had already shrunk. At one point, it had spanned what is now Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and the sacred Black Hills, known to the Sioux as Paha Sapa, the heart of everything that is. In a stunning turn, the Sioux leader would battle and ultimately defeat the U.S. Army - two years of fighting - until the government appealed for peace on Red Cloud's terms.
The story of this remarkable man is told in a new biography. When authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin joined us, Bob Drury began the tale at the dawn of what would become known as Red Cloud's War.
BOB DRURY: General William Tecumseh Sherman, who was in charge of the army of the West, he issued an order. He said kill Red Cloud. Kill every Indian male over the age of 12. And, of course, Red Cloud knew about this, and he just said, OK, enough. He not only was able to unite the fractious and bickering Sioux bands and clans and tribes, but it was extraordinary that he got the Arapaho to become part of his union. He got the Cheyenne. He got some Shoshoni. Red Cloud had enough foresight to know if I'm going to fight the United States, I need every American Indian on my team, so to speak.
MONTAGNE: And the backdrop for this was something that Red Cloud had proclaimed. And go ahead, if you would, and read that quote.
DRURY: (Reading) The Great Spirit raised both the white man and the Indian. I think he raised the Indian first. He raised me in this land, and it belongs to me. The white man was raised over the great waters, and his land is over there. Since they crossed the sea, I have given them room. There are now white people all about me. I have but a small spot of land left. The Great Spirit told me to keep it.
MONTAGNE: One of the most important and dramatic battles in Red Cloud's War came just before Christmas, in 1866. The Bluecoats, as the U.S. soldiers were known, they were veterans, many of them, of some of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. But it turned they were out of their element with the Sioux.
DRURY: It was a guerrilla war. And the irony, I suppose, is we had become a nation by fighting a guerrilla war against the British, and we forgot what a guerrilla war was. And the American Indians, they knew the land. So they could fight from Butte to Coulee, from ravine to stream. The American generals were just stunned. They didn't know how to deal with this. And, for the first time, Red Cloud was able to coordinate attacks at the same time hundreds of miles apart. So, here's Red Cloud. He's drawn out the largest force, to this point, that has ever gone against an American army: 81 men and officers. And he's got 2,000, a multi-tribal army, coming behind them and he wipes them out, to a man - 81 men. It doesn't sound like a lot to us now, but back then, in 1866, it just rocked the Department of War, and it rocked the White House.
MONTAGNE: One thing you do not shy away from in this book is describing how vicious these battles could be. There were atrocities on both sides.
DRURY: Oh, Renee. That was one of the things that I think surprised us the most. Now, the Indians practiced this among themselves, in their own wars. The cliche, the happy hunting grounds, well, the Plains tribes actually believed that there was a happy hunting grounds, and that when you died, you went to this afterlife, so to speak, and it was full of clear-running streams and game and buffalo as far as the eye can see. And they believed that you went to this heaven in the same shape that you left this Earth. So, if you went there without eyeballs to see how beautiful it was, that was your disadvantage. If you went there without arms, so you could not pull back a bowstring, well, that was to your disadvantage. And when the white soldiers got out there, they could not believe how gory the Indians were.
TOM CLAVIN: Just as a footnote to what Drury just said, it didn't take the white soldiers and even some of the white settlers very long to adapt some of these techniques themselves. By the time of Red Cloud's War, there were quite a few of the white pioneers, mountain men, soldiers, they had become pretty expert in the ways to inflict torture and to mutilate bodies.
MONTAGNE: Tell us more about Red Cloud himself. For one thing, he was not, as you might think, born into the role of a great warrior.
CLAVIN: A huge drawback that Red Cloud had was that his father died of alcoholism when Red Cloud was only five years old. And so that was a huge disadvantage, because with being a patriarchal society where you were able to advance thanks to your father's position and anything your father did that was of a heroic nature, Red Cloud had to go it on his own. He had to show that he was braver than everybody else, that he was stronger than everybody else.
DRURY: These myths sprang up around Red Cloud, where he could be at two places at once, where he could speak to the animals, where he could see in the night. And he knew this is only going to make the image, the myth, the cult of Red Cloud larger. He was a man ahead of his time when it came to politics. He knew that as the son of an alcoholic who had no great connections to warrior societies, he needed a leg up in Sioux society. And he married a woman whose father and brothers had that leg up.
MONTAGNE: This is quite a surprising part of his story, because there is a tragic love story at the center of his early life. Pretty Owl is the match that was going to help him politically. And then there was Pine Leaf, who was very much in love with him. Tell us that story.
CLAVIN: Pretty Owl had a father and brothers with many horses. But, you know, it wasn't like he was discarding Pine Leaf. The Sioux warrior leaders at the time could have up to five wives. After a certain amount of time, his intention was he would then marry Pine Leaf also, and bring her into his family. But the feelings that Pine Leaf had were so deep, that when the ceremony took place that married Red Cloud and Pretty Owl, Pine Leaf could not bear it anymore. And when he emerged the next morning after their honeymoon, basically, he found Pine Leaf hanging from a tree. It was a devastating loss for Red Cloud.
DRURY: He went back to his mother's teepee and just threw himself down. It was the only time in his life he didn't know what to do about a situation.
MONTAGNE: And, finally, great a warrior as Red Cloud was, the push west by settlers, the arrival of the railroad, there is this inevitable bad end. Read us the very top of your epilogue, which is a heartbreaking quote from Red Cloud.
CLAVIN: (Reading) The white man made me a lot of promises, and they only kept one. They promised to take my land, and they took it.
MONTAGNE: To this day, descendants of Red Cloud still live on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, one of America's poorest places. That's where the great Sioux leader is buried, between the Badlands and the Black Hills. Thank you very much for joining us.
MONTAGNE: Bob Drury and Tom Clavin are out with a new biography, "The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend."
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR&rsquos programming is the audio record.
Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre
Black Elk (left) and Elk of the Ogala Lakota touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
(Credit: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution)
For the entirety of his 27 years, Black Elk’s somber eyes had watched as the way of life for his fellow Lakota Sioux withered on the Great Plains. The medicine man had witnessed a generation of broken treaties and shattered dreams. He had watched as the white men me in like a river” after gold was discovered in the Dakota Territory’s Black Hills in 1874, and he had been there two years later when Custer and his men were annihilated at Little Big Horn. He had seen the Lakota’s traditional hunting grounds evaporate as white men decimated the native buffalo population. The Lakota, who once roamed as free as the bison on the Great Plains, were now mostly confined to government reservations.
Life for the Sioux had become as bleak as the weather that gripped the snow-dusted prairies of South Dakota in the winter of 1890. A glimmer of hope, however, had begun to arise with the new Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which preached that Native Americans had been confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Leaders promised that the buffalo would return, relatives would be resurrected and the white man would be cast away if the Native Americans performed a ritual “ghost dance.”
As the movement began to spread, white settlers grew increasingly alarmed and feared it as a prelude to an armed uprising. “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy,” telegrammed a frightened government agent stationed on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to the commissioner of Indian affairs on November 15, 1890. “We need protection and we need it now.” General Nelson Miles arrived on the prairie with 500 troops as part of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer’s old command, and ordered the arrest of several Sioux leaders.
Frederic Remington illustration of the Wounded Knee Massacre.
(Credit: Yale Collection of Western Americana/Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University)
When on December 15, 1890, Indian police tried to arrest Chief Sitting Bull, who was mistakenly believed to have been joining the Ghost Dancers, the noted Sioux leader was killed in the melee. On December 28, the cavalry caught up with Chief Big Foot, who was leading a band of upwards of 350 people to join Chief Red Cloud, near the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, which winds through the prairies and badlands of southwest South Dakota. The American forces arrested Big Foot—too ill with pneumonia to sit up, let alone walk𠅊nd positioned their Hotchkiss guns on a rise overlooking the Lakota camp.
As a bugle blared the following morningmber 29𠅊merican soldiers mounted their horses and surrounded the Native American camp. A medicine man who started to perform the ghost dance cried out, 𠇍o not fear but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us.” He implored the heavens to scatter the soldiers like the dust he threw into the air.
In the First Seminole War (1816-1818), the Seminoles, assisted by runaway slaves, defended Spanish Florida against the U.S. Army. In the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the Indians fought to retain their land in the Florida Everglades but were almost wiped out. The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was the Seminole’s last stand. After being outgunned and outnumbered, most of them agreed to move to Indian reservations in Oklahoma.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, allowing the U.S. government to relocate Indians from their land east of the Mississippi River. In 1838, the government forcibly removed around 15,000 Cherokee from their homeland and made them walk more than 1,200 miles west. Over 3,000 Indians died on the grueling route, known as the Trail of Tears. The involuntary relocation fueled the Indians’ anger toward the U.S. government.
In 1832, Chief Black Hawk led around 1,000 Sauk and Fox Indians back to Illinois to reclaim their land. The battle, known as the Black Hawk War, was a disaster for the Indians who were greatly outnumbered by the U.S. Army, militias and other Indian tribes.
A Look Back At Ten Years Of Microsoft Azure
When Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect announced Windows Azure at PDC 2008, no one could assess the impact that this software platform would have on the company and the industry.
Ray Ozzie was one of the first and most prominent advocates of an innovative model of delivering software through the web which went onto become what is popularly known as Software as a Service (SaaS).
In a famous internal Microsoft memo dated October 28, 2005, Ozzie articulated his vision for building a disruptive platform that would replicate the design of Microsoft Windows OS, .NET application services and Microsoft Office Suite on the Internet. Little was known that this idea would eventually translate into Azure IaaS, Azure PaaS and Office 365.
Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, initially resisted the idea of embracing the software services paradigm fearing that it would cannibalize Windows and Office business which was contributing to 80% of the revenue. Eventually, Ballmer was not only convinced but pushed Microsoft to become a fully-fledged cloud company through “we’re-all-in” war cry.
TSB - What Does A Digital Transformation Journey Look Like For A Traditional Bank?
20 Interesting Facts From Canonical’s Kubernetes And Cloud Native Survey
PyTorch Gains Momentum With Push From Facebook And Microsoft
When Satya Nadella came on board as the new CEO, he made the company rally around the mobile first and cloud first strategy. The cloud first mandate forced both internal product teams and external partners to prioritize Azure when selling to enterprises. In hindsight, this strategy clearly started to pay off.
With its humble beginnings of trying to be an extension of Windows OS on the Internet to helping Microsoft win the most prestigious JEDI contract, Azure has certainly come a long way. It’s now the most credible enterprise cloud platform giving Amazon Web Services a run for its money.
Microsoft Azure became generally available on the 1st of February, 2010. As the Azure community and partner ecosystem celebrates its 10th birthday, let’s take a look at the major milestones in the evolution of Microsoft’s cloud platform.
2008 - 2011: Red Dog and Windows OS for the Internet
The original flavour of Azure, code-named “Red Dog”, was clearly an extension of Windows NT built for the cloud. Dave Cutler, a distinguished engineer at Microsoft who architected Windows NT, was tasked to design an OS that would become the foundation of Microsoft’s cloud which resulted in Windows Azure, which later got renamed to Microsoft Azure.
Windows Azure was positioned as an alternative to Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine. The former - an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from Amazon - was still in beta but started to get the attention of developers. Google App Engine that was announced in 2008 was the industry’s first Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. Given the strong heritage of building developer platforms and tools, Microsoft chose to launch Azure as a PaaS offering.
The very first version of Windows Azure had a limited number of services that formed the four pillars of the platform. The first pillar was the compute service which had a web role and worker role components. Developers could package and run ASP.NET web applications and APIs that ran in the context of a web role while the worker role was designed for long-running processes with no UI. Azure Blob storage which was comparable to Amazon S3 was the second pillar of Windows Azure that delivered persistence and durability to services. The third pillar was a database service branded as SQL Azure that had a close resemblance to Microsoft SQL Server. The fourth pillar was the Azure Service Bus, a message bus that was born out of BizTalk Server.
Even after becoming generally available in 2010, Windows Azure was not an enterprise-friendly cloud platform. It only catered to a niche developer community building a specific class of web applications.
2012 - 2014: Embracing OSS and The Shift to IaaS
Amazon EC2 became generally available in 2008 with Microsoft Windows Server VMs available in beta. Customers could remote desktop into an EC2 instance and install software of their choice. The availability of Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) resulted in the rapid adoption of EC2 to run traditional Windows software in the cloud.
The other important trend that started to pick up the momentum was the usage of open source software (OSS). Since Linux VMs were cheaper and OSS packages such as Apache, PHP, and MySQL were stable, many developers switched to open source. Canonical’s Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE, and Amazon’s own Linux were the most popular distributions in the cloud.
The rise of OSS and the stellar growth of Amazon EC2 made Microsoft rethink its approach to cloud. It was evident that the customers wanted better control of the cloud which can only be delivered through IaaS. At the same time, developers demanded a more open cloud platform with support for open source software, especially Linux.
The above two trends forced Microsoft to revisit the cloud strategy resulting in the renaming of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure and making Linux a first-class citizen of Azure.
Scott Guthrie, who was the CVP of developer tools and platform along with Mark Russinovich, Technical Fellow in the Windows OS group, rearchitected Windows Azure, the PaaS, from the ground up to transform it into Microsoft Azure, the IaaS. This was not an easy feat by any means. Scott and Mark along with their team attempted to fuel aircraft mid-air. They had to maintain the compatibility with the original Windows Azure APIs and programmability while building a brand new model based on IaaS.
In 2014, Microsoft surprised the industry by closely partnering with Red Hat, Oracle, SUSE, and Canonical to make Azure the best place to run Linux OS. By 2017, 40% of the VMs deployed on Azure ran Linux.
2014 - 2016: Sailing the Big Data, Analytics and IoT Wave
After compute, storage, and network became table stakes for the cloud providers, they started to look at data as the key differentiator. Amazon started to push EMR while Google positioned BigQuery as the data warehouse in the cloud.
Microsoft partnered with Hortonworks, a Big Data startup that was aggressively competing with Cloudera to offer Azure HDInsight, a managed Apache Hadoop service in Microsoft’s cloud. It also launched Azure Data Lake Store and Azure Data Lake Analytics to offer an end-to-end Big Data and analytics platform on Azure.
In 2015, Microsoft acquired Revolution Analytics to bring the popular R language to Azure data platform.
Realizing that the Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest driver of the data-driven workloads, Microsoft started to invest in managed IoT services. Azure became one of the few public clouds to have an end-to-end connected devices stack powered by Event Hub, IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, SQL Database and Power BI.
Today, Microsoft is the only company to offer the core building blocks of IoT (PaaS) and a white-labeled, multi-tenant, ready-to-use IoT SaaS offering branded as Azure IoT Central.
2016 - 2018: Doubling Down on Containers and Kubernetes
During the last few years, Linux containers took the industry by storm. Initially driven by Docker, containerization led to a new form of application development and deployment based on the microservices pattern.
Subsequently, Kubernetes became the preferred platform to manage containers and microservices at scale. Google, the original founders of Kubernetes, launched Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), the first managed Kubernetes service in the cloud before handing over the code and governance to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
In 2016, Microsoft hired Brendan Burns, one of the co-founders of Kubernetes and a lead engineer at Google. Brendan spearheaded the container strategy for Azure helping Microsoft to launch a managed Kubernetes platform branded as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
Apart from launching the support for Windows Containers, Microsoft has contributed to many interesting and innovative projects such as the Virtual Kubelet, Kubernetes-based Event-driven Autoscaling, Service Mesh Interface, Open Application Model and Distributed Application Runtime (DAPR).
Today, Microsoft and Azure enjoy credibility among the container and Kubernetes developer community. Microsoft is also a Platinum Member of CNCF along with Google, AWS, SAP, Cisco and others.
2018 - 2020: Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge
Microsoft got onto the Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) bandwagon early. It started to expose Cognitive APIs for language understanding, speech, vision, search and translation.
Azure was one of the first public cloud platforms to offer a visual designer - Azure ML Studio - for training and deploying ML models. Having dabbled with the developer tools and IDEs through the defunct Azure ML Workbench, Microsoft finally got it right with Azure ML Services which supports deep learning models, NVIDIA GPU, Intel FPGA, enhanced pipelines, MLOps, and even a drag and drop designer for training neural networks.
The investments in databases, Big Data, IoT, and AI, enabled Microsoft to offer end-to-end data platform with rich AI integration which led to the branding and messaging of the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge.
Microsoft is one of the first companies to bet on edge computing by extending Azure’s capabilities to the last mile. Azure IoT Edge and Azure Stack Edge became the foundation for running compute, storage and analytics at the edge.
Microsoft partnered with Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm to make Azure IoT Edge the best platform for accelerating AI models at the edge.
The innovations around Azure Cognitive Services, ML Services, deep integration of AI in the data platform, Azure IoT Edge and Azure Stack are aligned with Satya’s vision of Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge.
2020 and Beyond: Azure Arc as the Foundation of Hybrid Cloud
Enterprises have started to see two key trends - The acceptance of Kubernetes in the data center and multi-cloud investments.
Kubernetes adoption among enterprises has increased resulting in the co-existence of legacy and modern infrastructures. Since Kubernetes runs in almost any public cloud environment, it is becoming the common denominator for the multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployments.
Sensing this trend, Microsoft launched a revamped hybrid cloud strategy based on Kubernetes. Branded as Azure Arc, this new platform enables customers to manage virtual machines, physical machines, containerized workloads managed by Kubernetes from a single control plane. Unlike some of the other competitive offerings such as AWS Outposts, Google Anthos, VMware Tanzu, IBM Multi-cloud Manager and Red Hat OpenShift, Azure Arc brings legacy and modern workloads to a level playing field. Azure Arc can host some of the managed services of Azure public cloud within the on-premises data center and even in the competitive cloud platforms.
Going forward, Azure Arc will emerge as a unified compute fabric for the multi-cloud and hybrid cloud platforms.
By no means, the above-mentioned milestones do justice in explaining the growth trajectory that Azure experienced in the last decade. Apart from these, Microsoft launched CosmosDB, Blockchain, a number of backup, DR and migration tools, acquired many interesting startups, published impactful enterprise case studies apart from winning the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure deal.
Microsoft, a 44-year old company has shown that with the right strategy, vision, and execution, it is possible to stay relevant in the highly-competitive market. It’s inspiring to see how the company transformed itself to align with the rapidly changing market dynamics and customer expectations.