Red Cloud is the only Native American leader ever to win a war against the United States Army. In the 1860s he destroyed Captain William J. Fetterman’s command, closed the Bozeman Trail, and forced the United States to a peace conference. A brilliant military strategist, Red Cloud honed his skills against his tribes’ traditional enemies—the Pawnees, Shoshones, Arikaras, and Crows—long before he fought to close the Bozeman Trail.
Here, for the first time in print, is the story of Red Cloud’s early years as he told it to a white friend in the 1890s. This manuscript—which has rested ignored for decades at the Nebraska State Historical Society—brings us closer than the historical record ever has before to understanding the life of the Lakotas’ greatest war leader until the rise of Crazy Horse.