Red Cloud - His Last Days

His Last Days

Red Cloud became an important leader of the Lakota as they transitioned from the freedom of the plains to the confinement of the reservation system. His trip to Washington, DC had convinced him of the number and power of European Americans, and he believed the Oglala had to seek peace.

Red Cloud continued fighting for his people, even after being forced onto the reservation. In 1887 Red Cloud opposed the Dawes Act, which broke up communal tribal holdings, and allocated 160-acre plots of land to heads of families on tribal rolls for subsistence farming. The US declared additional communal tribal lands as excess, and sold it to emigrant settlers. In 1889 Red Cloud opposed a treaty to sell more of the Sioux land. Due to his steadfastness and that of Sitting Bull, government agents obtained the necessary signatures for approval through subterfuge, such as using the signatures of children. He negotiated strongly with Indian Agents such as Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy.

He outlived all the other major Sioux leaders of the Indian Wars. He died in 1909 at the age of 87 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he was buried. He is quoted as saying in his old age, "They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one--They promised to take our land...and they took it."

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