The Heart of Everything That Is: Chief Red Cloud's Untold Story, Revealed

Jordan Wright

What surprised you the most in your research?

Drury: Well, there were so many things that surprised me. For example, we have the Alamo, the Battle of Big Horn and the Fetterman fight, which somehow had gotten lost in the mists of time. The story is about the demise of one nation, Red Cloud’s nation, and the rise of another nation, the continental power of the United States—and in the middle of it was the Fetterman fight.

Another was old Jim Bridger, the self-taught trapper and explorer. Why were Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Kitt Carson and all these iconic figures mentioned in our American history books but not Bridger? I think he is the most fascinating character in the book because his story lends so much to the book’s narrative. He and Red Cloud lived almost parallel lives on this vast continent. During this period mapmakers described the vast interior of the country as the great American desert. But during their lifetimes we annexed Texas, fixed the Canadian boundary, defeated Santa Ana and took over many of the western and northwestern states. All of a sudden we were becoming a nation, and at the same time Red Cloud was in charge of what whites considered a nation. So it was inevitable that these two nations were going to clash. And this was witnessed by Jim Bridger and Crazy Horse, among others of the period. I wonder to this day why he is not up there in the pantheon of Western pioneers.

What is your takeaway?

Drury: If we had just honored that final treaty, because Red Cloud’s war never really ended, even though he signed a treaty. It still continues in the courts today, because we broke so many treaties.  But if we had just honored that final treaty that ended Red Cloud’s war, this would be a better country today for everyone.

So why did two white guys think they could write about the history of American Indians?

Drury: My only answer is I didn’t serve in World War II, but that didn’t stop me from writing Halsey’s Typhoon and doing a good job of it. I didn’t serve in the Korean War but that didn’t stop me from writing The Last Stand of Fox Company, and I was even too young for Vietnam, but that didn’t stop us from writing Last Men Out. So in the same sense I don’t think color, age or creed matters when you’ve got a ripping good yarn. And this one’s a great saga with epic sweep. 


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Splendor's picture
Submitted by Splendor on
He was an amazing man, but was not the only one who ever led a war against white man and won. We still tend to look at the history of this country as an east to west affair. Let us not forget Pope' (with an accent), a San Juan medicine man, who led the great resistance against the Spanish in 1680--known as the Pueblo Revolt--who not only won, but forcefully removed from all pueblo homelands a nearly 100-year Spanish settlement of thousands. Let us also not forget the amazing Tlingits, now of Alaska, who *never* submitted to Russian authority from the late 1700s through the time they sold Alaska to the United States over 160 years later.

boujoie's picture
Submitted by boujoie on
... Let us also not forget Fools Crow, nephew of Black Elk, who offered many prayer bundles to harmoniously unite the various native cultures, as well as the natives and whites. (see history of Bear Butte in South Dakota). Joie B. AnisinaabeOjibwe

rockymissouri's picture
Submitted by rockymissouri on
An honorable man.. He thought of his people.

sophielauren's picture
Submitted by sophielauren on
I grew up with stories of Tecumseh. He was practically a family member as far as I was concerned. I am really excited to read this book and teach my children about another amazing person!!

Sammy7's picture
Submitted by Sammy7 on
This is not a story for Drury and Clavin to write. It is for the Sioux to write. The yonega will provide a plot but the theme will be badly flawed and therefore disrespects the memory of Red Cloud. What strange sense of privilege do they have believing that they can possibly exist in one world view and write an important book concerning a different world view. They cannot ! It's more yonega hubris. I will not read their words.