Mahpiya (Luta) Red Cloud
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Mahpiya Luta (Luta) Red Cloud (1822 - 1909)

Chief Mahpiya Luta "Chief Red Cloud" Red Cloud formerly Luta aka Tall Eagle
Born in Lakota Nation (now North Platte, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States)map
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1850 in Raw Hide Buttes, Lakota Territorymap
Descendants descendants
Died in Shannon, South Dakota, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 17 Dec 2014
This page has been accessed 6,522 times.
Mahpiya (Luta) Red Cloud was a Native American member of the Lakota tribe.
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Red BulletSpace:Native Americans: Lakota

Red Cloud was a war leader and a chief of the Oglala Lakota.He led a campaign known as Red Cloud's War from 1866–1868 ,for control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana.[1]

Early Life

Maȟpíya Lúta[2] was born in present day North Platte, Nebraska near the forks of the Platte River, into the Brulé Lakota tribe.

Maȟpíya Lúta, was called Red Cloud, which in Lakota means Scarlet Cloud, when he was born there were crimson clouds in the sky above.[3]

His father was Lone Man, who was a Brulé Lakota chief and his mother was Walks As She Thinks.[4]

Red Clouds known siblings are:[citation needed]

    1. Sword (male)
    2. Yellow Lodge (male)
    3. Spider (male)
    4. Blue Thunder (female) aka Sarah Foster; Blue Thunder had a son named John Red Cloud (at Chief Red Cloud's request). This John Red Cloud fought against General Custer, but disappeared after the battle.

Just before his parents died (in 1825)[citation needed], his father gave him a wild colt, and said to him:

My son, when you are able to sit quietly upon the back of this colt without saddle or bridle, I shall be glad, for the boy who can win a wild creature and learn to use it will as a man be able to win and rule men.

Red Cloud began quietly to practice throwing the lariat. In a short while he was able to lasso the colt.[citation needed]

After his parents' deaths, Red Cloud was raised by his uncle, Old Chief Smoke (head chief of the Oglala Sioux).[5][6] [7]

While he was young, Red Cloud wanted to excel himself as a warrior. He showed great bravery in battles with the Oglalas' and other tribes, including the Pawnees.[citation needed]


Red Cloud married Pretty Owl in 1850, at Raw Hide Buttes, Lakota Territory.[8][9]

Pretty Owl's parents were Hollow Bear and Good Owl.[citation needed]

Red Cloud and Pretty Owl had one son and 5 daughters.[10] It is written that Red Cloud had only one wife,but it was reported by Mrs. James Cook in J. Olson, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, that in his younger days that Red Cloud had 5 wives. Although it seems that Pretty Owl, would not share her husband with other women.She said to an old friend, Charles P. Jordan.When he, Red Cloud was a young man, I was very jealous of him and used to watch him very closely for fear some other woman would win him from me.

Chief Red Cloud had two wives and eight children. The oldest, Jack, fought General Custer. Three of his known children are:

  1. Jack Redcloud (male)
  2. John Redcloud (male)
  3. Mrs. Peter Crazy Bear (female)

Resisting White Expansion

Red Cloud resisted the white expansion into his people's land. He would not sign several treaties with the U.S. government. In 1866, he left negotiations that were taking place at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. On December 21, 1866, a party of 80 soldiers that was led by Captain William Judd Fetterman, were sent to eliminate their Native American problem. But more than 1,000 Indian warriors were waiting. This became known as the Fetterman massacre.[11][12] By the spring of 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant decided to abandon the forts in the northern part of the Bozeman trail. Even though Red Cloud signed a treaty later that year, [13] he resisted government, from moving him and his people from their lands.[14] "Red Cloud's War" was the name the US Army gave to a number of conflicts, against the United States Army between 1866 and 1868.

At the end of Red Cloud's war, he signed the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie.[15][16] The U.S. promised it would abandon the Bozeman Trail. The U.S. also gave the Lakota Sioux possession of what is now the western half of South Dakota, along with large parts of Wyoming and Montana. Red Cloud agreed to stop fighting, he moved onto a reservation in Nebraska, known as the Red Cloud Agency. After the war, Red Cloud served his people as a diplomat.[17]

In 1870, Red Cloud visited Washington, with other Native American leaders, they met President Grant.[18] In 1875, Red Cloud met with Grant again, President Grant offered $25,000, to the Sioux if they would give up their rights to hunt along the Platte River in Dakota Territory. The leaders Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and Little Wound refused.

Red Cloud's son still wanted to fight for their land and way of life. After Sitting Bull's total defeat of General George Armstrong Custer's, Seventh Cavalry in June 1876, whites began an aggressive campaign against Native Americans in the West. But Red Cloud still would not go to war.

In 1878, Red Cloud moved to Pine Ridge Agency. The Indian agent, at the Pine Ridge Agency, treated the Indians dreadfully.[citation needed] Red Cloud fought for their rights, and he succeeded in having the agent dismissed. Red Cloud continued his work, to keep the Indian lands and to maintain the power, of traditional Native American leaders. In their later years, Red Cloud and Pretty Owl converted to Christianity, he changed his first name to John, and she was called Mary.[19]

Final Years and Death

Chief Red Cloud died 10 Dec 1909 on the Pine Ridge Reservation.[20]

Red Clouds War

Research Notes

Maȟpíya = Cloud/Sky.

  • Hyde, George E. Red Clouds Fold: A History of the Oglala Sioux Indians University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1937.
    • When Red Cloud was born, the Oglala Winter Camp was near Bear Butte, between the Black Hills and Missouri River in the winter of 1821-22. The author states that although Red Cloud said in 1870 he was born at the fork of the Platte River, his statement was "negatived by every bit of evidence we have" and that the claim was a "political prevarication"(Page 34. )
    • This author says Red Cloud's name came from a meteorite visible that winter that caused a red sky. The author cites Keating. Expedition to the Sources of the St. Peters River. Philadelphia, 1824. Volume 1, Page 316, for the information that the meteorite was seen on 20 September 1822 from Fort Snelling near the mouth of the Minnesota River. (Page 34. ) The author discounts several other name origin stories in the appendix to the book and points out several other individuals with same or similar names also born the winter of the meteorite. (Page 316-17)
    • Hyde speaks of Red Cloud's nephew (sister's son), He Dog, giving family information in 1931 but does not cite where the information from He Dog was found. He Dog apparently said Red Cloud's father was Brulé Chief Ishna Witca (Lone Man) and his mother was Walks-as-She-Thinks, from Saone band of Oglála, sister to Old Smoke. Old Smoke took their orphaned children into his camp.(Page 317)
    • Hyde mentions death of Bull Bear as the result of rivalry between Bull Bear and Old Smoke fueled by the fur traders and liquor. Hyde mentions that "some say" Red Cloud was the one who shot Bull Bear and Red Cloud's brother Yellow Lodge was among those who died in the fight. (Pages 53-54)
  • Price, Catherine. The Oglala People, 1841-1879: A Political History. (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 1996.) -this book can be "borrowed" on
    • Red Cloud abdicated his position of itancan (band chief) to son Jack Red Cloud in July 1903. (Page 10)
    • Two fur traders "forged ties" into Red Cloud's family. John Richard, Sr, was known for supplying illegal liquor in the fur trade. Jules Ecoffey was born in Switzerland but was living in the Fort Laramie area after 1854. (Page 20)
    • Near Fort Laramie, in 1841, the Bear group of tiyospaye (bands) and the Smoke group were both camped for trade with the fort. An incident occurred that led to the death of Bull Bear. This author discusses several different stories of what happened and states, "Moreover, all versions state that Red Cloud , a young nephew of Old Smoke who was born in 1821 in Bull Bear's tiyospaye on the Smoky Hill River, fired the fatal shot." (Pages 23-24)
    • Black Buffalo Woman: niece of Red Cloud, wife of No Water, left husband for Crazy Horse (Page 24)
    • John Richard, Jr: accompanied Lakota delegation to Washington as interpreter, "son-in-law" of Yellow Bear and son of John Richard, Sr, who married a sister of Red Cloud (Page 90)
    • Black Twin: brother of No Water who was Red Cloud's son-in-law (Page 99)
    • Spider: Red Cloud's younger brother (Page 136)
    • Sword: Oglala head shirtwearer, nephew of Red Cloud (Page 139)
    • Bear Brains: Red Cloud's "brother-in-law" (Page 137)
  • Powers, Marla N. Lakota Naming: A Modern-Day Hunka Ceremony. Lakota Books. Kendall Park, NJ. 1991. -can be "borrowed" on
    • detailed description of a Hunka ceremony includes the specific lineage of two children descended from Red Cloud (and other Grandfathers of note), "...their mother is Darlene, whose mother is Sadie Afraid-of-Horse, whose mother is Lucy Red Cloud, whose father is Jack Red Cloud, whose father is the old chief Red Cloud." (Page 37)

Needs Incorporation into Narrative Above

  1. Chief Red Cloud fought at the Battle of Bighorn.
  2. Red Cloud's War
    -Red Cloud was instrumental in organizing resistance to white expansion into his people's territory. He had refused to sign several treaties with the U.S. government and even stormed out of negotiations held at Fort Laramie in Wyoming in 1866. Fort Laramie was on what was known as the Bozeman Trail, which was developed by John Bozeman as a shortcut to the Oregon trail and the gold-rich lands in what is now Montana.
    -At the time the 1866 meeting was held, the U.S. government was building new forts along the trail north of Fort Laramie. This expansion enraged Red Cloud, who managed to unite several different Native American groups to drive away the soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny. When the U.S. government sent in reinforcements, Red Cloud and his warriors showed them just how powerful they were.
    -On December 21, 1866, Captain William Judd Fetterman led of party of 80 soldiers to eliminate their Native American problem. But they were quickly slaughtered by more than 1,000 warriors who rose up against them. This incident became known as the Fetterman massacre.
    -By the spring of 1868, Red Cloud had finally forced the white man's hand with his continued assault on those who ventured into his territory. General Ulysses S. Grant decided to abandon the forts in the northern part of the Bozeman trail. While he signed a treaty later that year, Red Cloud resisted government efforts to move him and his people from their lands.
    -In 1870, Red Cloud traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for Native American rights. He attended a special reception at the White House and later traveled to New York. The mighty leader impressed crowds with his eloquence and diplomatic skills, but could do little to preserve his lands in face of greed over gold. Once the precious metal was found in the Black Hills, the Sioux were soon pushed from their sacred lands.
    -While other Native American leaders, including Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, rose up against the whites, Red Cloud seemed to stay out of the fighting. He moved with his people to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the late 1870s. In the early 1880s, Red Cloud stepped down as leader. He continued to work to improve the lives of his people, however. In 1897, he headed to Washington, D.C., to campaign for better living conditions on the reservation.


  1. American Indian Relief Council - Biographies of Plains Indians Red Cloud — 1820-1909
  2. - Red Cloud Makhpiya-Luta (1822-1909)
  3. - Red Cloud Biography Folk Hero, Activist 1822–1909
  4. - Red Cloud
  5. Wikipedia - Old Chief Smoke
  6. Wikipedia - The Oglala Lakota or Oglala Sioux
  7. NRC - Biographies of Plains Indians Red Cloud — 1820-1909
  8. Google Books - Chief Red Cloud, 1822-1909 - By Judy Monroe
  9. American Tribes - Pretty Owl - Mary Good Road
  10. American - Mary Good Road also known as Pretty Woman also known as Pretty Owl Bad Face Band, Oglala Wife of Red Cloud
  11. Cowboys and Indians - Red Cloud's War, The Fetterman Massacre
  12. Son of the - Chief Red Cloud
  13. Native American Facts - Chief Red Cloud Facts
  14. Wyoming History - Red Clouds War
  15. - Red Cloud Facts, information and articles about Red Cloud, a Native American Indian Chief from the Wild West
  16. Republic of - Treaty of Fort Laramie 1868
  17. Sage American - Chief Red Cloud on Indian Rights
  18. Armed Forces Journal - 1870 - Negotiations in Indian Country
  19. Find A Grave: Memorial #6878358 - Burial - Red Cloud Cemetery, Pine Ridge,Shannon County, South Dakota, USA
  20. Biography of Red Cloud

See also:

Red BulletUS History - Chief Red Cloud
Red BulletEncyclopedia Britanica - Red Cloud
Red - Red Clouds Speech
Red BulletGoogle Books - Autobiography of Red Cloud: War Leader of the Oglalas By Charles Wesley Allen, Red Cloud, Sam Deon
Red BulletJames - Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Chief
Red BulletWikipedia - Red Cloud - Maȟpíya Lúta
Red BulletPure - Red Cloud and Pretty Owl
Red BulletWyoming State Archives - Red Cloud in Blue

Read more about Chief Red Cloud

  • History and Families (1819-1989) Alexander County, Illinois; by Louise P. Ogg and Monica L. Smith; 1989; page 245-6

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Comments: 15

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[Comment Deleted]
posted by Sarah Mason
deleted by Sarah Mason
Oh dear me. THANK YOU for catching that. I've corrected it.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Cheri or Vesta, could you please change his LNAB to Lakota? (typo fixed) Thank you.
posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
I agree with Kathie Forbes regarding the LNAB for this person. I was working up from local descendants before I created the Red Cloud-11 profile. The local descendants took the name of Redcloud as their surname for several generations. I didn't get a match on Wikitree until entering Chief Red Cloud's father, and stopped developing the family genealogy. I was waiting for a representative of the family to appear who could give the profile authenticity.
posted by David Thomson III
His LNAB should be Lakota. “Red Cloud” and “Mapiya Luta” are given names, not a surname or family name. His father’s LNAB should also be Lakota. As was common later in the 19th century when surnames were needed Red Cloud’s children used “Red Cloud” as an English surname.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Red Cloud-11 and Luta-1 appear to represent the same person because: These

Represent the same individual. Neither last name at birth is accurate. Or if you have a source for either please provide it.

posted by Jillaine Smith
As for the Redcloud family, they continued to live in what became Alexander County, Illinois, and they are listed in the History and Families of Alexander County, Illinois. Alexander County is just downstream from present day Randolph County, Illinois, and the whole region is rich with Native American and Mound Builder (two separate races) artifacts.
posted on Red Cloud-11 (merged) by David Thomson III
Jillaine, "Bois Brule" is a term used to indicate a person of mixed Indian and French Canadian blood. Chief Redcloud is said to have been a part of the Brule Sioux Indians. There was an island on the Mississippi in Randolph County, Illinois that at one time was known as Crain's Island. The island is now completely washed away, but at one time it had a population of about 1000 people. During the censuses for Crain's Island, the census district was always called "Bois Brule, Missouri," and even though the land belonged to Illinois, the population count went to Missouri. I have yet to find out why this was. But in any case, Bois Brule was a settlement on the Missouri side of the Mississippi, that was part of the French settlements of Louisiana Territory and Old Spain Territory. During the late 1700 and early 1800s, there was heavy river traffic to the tune of about 100 boats passing up and down that area every day. The French, Indian, British, and Virginian traders intermingled extensively during that time.

I suspect that Joseph Desmet Lewis was a regular in this area, just as much as Chief Redcloud, the Clark family, and the Lewis family. Even my own ancestor, John Mansker, lived on those islands and during those times, and undoubtedly traded and mingled among them. The traders and settlers of Old Kaskaskia were French, and got along well with the Sioux and other tribes of Indians, and intermarried with them. joseph Desmet Lewis would have been among the first to have Virginian blood, as opposed to French blood.

So it is likely that the Brule Sioux represents those families who intermarried, but who retained the Native American lifestyle as opposed to the European lifestyle.

posted on Red Cloud-11 (merged) by David Thomson III
I checked with the profile manager. They're fine with redoing this profile. I'll start on removing the no longer approved formatting.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Some of the quotes on this page came from

First peoples


All great quotes

Finest quotes

posted by Terry Wright
Okay. I'll start a section, we can move it to a page later if we want. I just noticed there is already a free space page (link at bottom of page hiding under sources) but its contents are copied and pasted. It is currently orphaned.
posted by Sarah Mason
Let's proceed with caution here; the WikiTree volunteer who did the bulk of the work on this profile invested significant time into it. I want to find a solution that respects that investment, while at the same time improving the sourcing and genealogical information. For example, each of the quotes (which were uploaded as graphics) need to be cited (as you said, Sarah). Where do these quotes come from? There are also a number of other statements throughout the narrative that could benefit from having sources cited.

Sarah, you could add a section, just above Sources, called Research Notes, and place a discussion of discrepancies there.

This profile also uses a formatting style that is no longer recommended. I'll reach out to the profile manager to made these edits.

posted by Jillaine Smith
I’d suggest copying the whole thing to a free space page and starting over with only what is provable. Many of these Native American bios are just copied from unsourced web pages and/or Wikipedia.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
We need much better sources for some of this profile information, especially citations for the quotes that are being directly attributed to Red Cloud. This profile feels like a summary of popular websites without a lot of actual genealogical information available. There seems to be a lot of legends and misinformation associated with Mahpiya Luta. Can we start a section to collect sourced or contradictory information? Should a free-space page be used? How would the NA project prefer to proceed?
posted by Sarah Mason
Red Cloud Delegation- (unrestricted use)

Photo includes Oglala Sioux taken before 1876. Seated from left to right are Red Dog, Little Wound, Red Cloud, American Horse, and Red Shirt. Standing behind is John Bridgeman, interpreter.

posted by Arora (G) Anonymous

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