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Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux

            Red Cloud was undoubtedly one of the most colorful Indians of the 19th century. Olson, in his book Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, calls Red Cloud "one of the most celebrated members of his race, better known among both red men and white than almost any other Sioux" (Olson 15). After killing the chief of a rival band of Oglala Sioux during a raid, Red Cloud established himself as a cunning warrior and leader. Although he is often acclaimed as the Indian most responsible for maintaining peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States, Red Cloud was once one of the most feared Sioux in the west. .
             Red Cloud, known as Makhpiya-luta to his own people, was born in1822 at the forks of the Platte River in western Nebraska. His father was a minor chief of the Brule Sioux, while his mother was of the Oglala band known as the Bad Faces. The origin of Red Cloud's name has been the subject of much debate. According to Indian Affairs agent V.T. McGillycuddy, the name refers to "" the way in which his scarlet-blanketed warriors covered the hillsides like a red cloud"" (Olson 17). George E. Hyde, in his book Red Cloud's Folk, suggests the name was derived from " the ball of fire meteorite which passed over the Sioux country from east to west on the night of September 20, 1822" (Hyde 316). Red Cloud himself always maintained that the name was a family name and had been passed to him by his father.
             Red Cloud's father died shortly after his birth, and his mother took him to live with her brother Old Smoke, who was the chief of the Bad Faces. When Red Cloud was about 19, the Koya band of the Oglala Sioux mounted a raid against the Bad Faces in retribution for the theft of one of their women. During the raid, Red Cloud killed Bull Bear, the chief of the Koyas. This incident marked the beginning of Red Cloud's rise to power, and established his reputation as " a terror in war with other tribes" (Olson 19).

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