This is Red Cloud's (Makhpiya-Luta) farewell address to the Lakota people on July 4, 1903
"My sun is set. My day is done. Darkness is stealing over me.
Before I lie down to rise no more, I will speak to my people.
"Hear me, my friends, for it is not the time for me to tell you a
lie. The Great Spirit
made us, the Indians, and gave us this land we live
in. He gave us the buffalo
, the antelope
, and the deer
for food and
clothing. We moved our hunting grounds from the Minnesota to the Platte and
from the Mississippi to the great mountains. No one put bounds on us. We
were free as the winds, and like the eagle
, heard no man's commands.
"I was born a Lakota
and I shall die a Lakota. Before the white man
came to our country, the Lakotas were a free people
. They made their own
laws and governed themselves as it seemed good to them. The priests and
ministers tell us that we lived wicked
ly when we lived before the white man
came among us. Whose fault was this? We lived right as we were taught it
was right. Shall we be punished for this? I am not sure that what these
people tell me is true.
As a child I was taught the Taku Wakan
) were powerful and could do strange things. This was
taught me by the wise men and the shaman
s. They taught me that I could gain
their favor by being kind to my people and brave before my enemies; by
telling the truth and living straight; by fighting for my people and their
"When the Lakotas believed these things they were happy and they
died satisfied. What more than this can that which the white man offers us
is familiar with my spirit and when I die I will go
with him. Then I will be with my forefathers. If this is not in the heaven
of the white man I shall be satisfied. Wi is my father. The Wakan Tanka of
the white man has overcome him. But I shall remain true to him.
are long and dark before me. I shall soon lie down to rise
no more. While my spirit
is with my body the smoke of my breath shall be
towards the Sun
for he knows all things and knows that I am still true to him."
We do not know much about Red Cloud's youth, but we do know that he has spent much of his life at war. It is documented that he was born near the forks of the Platte River in 1822.
Red Cloud fought with the Lakota nation, and they supported him against his territorial wars against the: Crows, Utes, Shoshones, and Pawnees.
The heart of Lakota territory consists of present-day Wyoming to Montana from Colorado's South Platte River. Those were the decades that miners, the US army building forts and settlers were migrating west to settle territory, which also happen to be Lakota territory. In 1866 Red Cloud organized and lead the most successful war against the US ever fought. The first of Red Clouds attacks were against Lieutenant Colonel William Fetterman's and his brigade of eighty men just outside Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming. The attack was in the winter, which kept the army on their toes until warmer weather for fear of being frozen out.
Eventually in 1868 the US decided to abandon it's forts according to the Fort Laramie Treaty. The abandonment of the forts gave the Lakotas the current Western half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills, along with much of Montana and Wyoming.But in 1874 Gen. George A. Custer lead troops onto the Northern Plains which the eventual outcome lead to the break up of independent Indian nations.
Red Cloud eventually threw the towel in and no longer fought with other Lakota war leaders, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Red Cloud decided to instead fight for the Indians that were on the reservations - he fought for food distribution and supply distribution with the government, opposing leasing of Lakota land to whites, and for the allotment of Indian reservations into individual tracts under the 1887 Dawes Act
Red Cloud died in 1909 and his entire life proves the hardship of which Indians went through to maintain their land and freedom. Red Cloud unlike many other Indians also managed to escape from the US Army with out harm.
Now a days, 2003, in the Dakota's and many other Indian Reservations you'll find the name Red Cloud used in naming: libraries, community centers, stores, parks and even a hospital. Red Cloud was an influencing member of the Indian community and is remembered in the hearts of Indians and Americans to this day.