The Heart of Everything That Is: Chief Red Cloud's Untold Story, Revealed
What drew you to the story of Red Cloud?
Clavin: I was reading a description of the Fetterman massacre and Red Cloud and thought I was pretty well versed in eighteenth-century history. But ultimately when we decided to take on the story of Red Cloud, it became a four-year journey.
Drury: We saw his life was rich during the period of Manifest Destiny. It told of a way of life that had gone on for a millennium. We were accustomed to interviewing living people. But what we found was almost like Twitter, everyone kept a journal back then. Tom went to all the historical societies and university libraries out west and found so many letters. Some of the documents were so fragile that we had to handle them with gloves. Reading these journals was like interviewing living people. It was an amazing discovery. For example, no one knew how the Indians ‘treatied’ with each other.
Would the Plains Indians have survived without the trading posts and contact with whites?
Clavin: They probably would have survived much better! The trading posts were very destructive to them. They seduced the Indians from finding their own food and clothing, which they had always done. It also introduced alcohol to them and brought diseases they had no immunity from, like smallpox and cholera.
What was Red Cloud’s legacy to the Sioux?
Clavin: Once he retired as a military leader and after he could see the growing military power of the white people, he wanted to be sure that the Lakota Sioux and their children had education and medical care. He was an advocate in Washington for funds and other resources to come back to the reservation.
What does the book’s title mean?
Clavin: The Lakota Sioux name for the Black Hills is paha sapa. The area straddles the border between Wyoming and Southwestern South Dakota. They considered it their sacred territory—where they came from. The translation is “the heart of everything that is.”
Does Red Cloud have descendants?
Clavin: Tribal leaders have been descendants of Red Cloud, the leader of the Oglala Sioux, who was considered their leader until he died in 1909. Then it was Jack, his son, then James, his son, then Oliver Red Cloud, his son who died this past July at 93. His son, Lyman, was supposed to take over as leader, but died two weeks later. I have heard there is now a vacuum in terms of their spiritual figurehead.
Do they still live on the Pine Ridge reservation?
Clavin: Quite a few still do. Though some also attend school outside of the reservation and marry outside, there are still grandchildren and great-great- grandchildren living there.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page