Black Elk Speaks


John G. Neihardt

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Red Cloud is a Lakota chief. In 1868, Red Cloud and chiefs from other Sioux tribes sign the Fort Laramie Treaty with the U.S. government that creates the Great Sioux Reservation and establishes the Black Hills as exempt from white settlement. However, less than 10 years later, miners enter the Hills illegally when gold is discovered there, and the treaty is eventually broken. Black Elk describes Red Cloud as a “great” chief, though he ultimately thinks that Red Cloud is too passive toward the Wasichus (white people), whom he stopped fighting after signing the Fort Laramie Treaty. Red Cloud and his band are known as “Hang-Around-the-Fort” people because they cooperate with the U.S. government and live on agencies instead of fighting to save their land and preserve their way of life. After the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, Red Cloud makes a speech to the Sioux warriors, persuading them to surrender to the U.S. government.

Red Cloud Quotes in Black Elk Speaks

The Black Elk Speaks quotes below are all either spoken by Red Cloud or refer to Red Cloud. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Nebraska Press edition of Black Elk Speaks published in 2014.
Chapter 10 Quotes

But only crazy or very foolish men would sell their Mother Earth. Sometimes I think it might have been better if we had stayed together and made them kill us all.

Related Characters: Black Elk (speaker), Red Cloud, Crazy Horse
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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Red Cloud Character Timeline in Black Elk Speaks

The timeline below shows where the character Red Cloud appears in Black Elk Speaks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Early Boyhood
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon describe fighting in the Battle of the Hundred Slain. Fire Thunder explains that Chief Red Cloud had called together the dispersed Lakota bands in the Moon of the Changing Season (October)... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...of relative peace: the Wasichus had retreated, and in the Moon of Falling Leaves (November), Red Cloud signed a treaty with the Wasichus that said the Indians could keep their land. (full context)
Chapter 5: At the Soldiers’ Town
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...pole and want to fight the Ogalalas in retaliation, but their chief at the time, Red Cloud , tells the soldiers that grown men shouldn’t fight over a child’s foolishness, so nothing... (full context)
Chapter 7: Wasichus in the Hills
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...Black Hills. Black Elk’s people make plans to put an end to the metal digging. Red Cloud says that the soldiers are keeping the diggers out, but Black Elk’s people don’t believe... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Fight with Three Stars
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon keep their country: it’s up to them to do so, as “cheap” chiefs like Red Cloud and Spotted Tail would prefer to sell the land to the Wasichus. Black Elk’s aunt... (full context)
Chapter 10: Walking the Black Road
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...(April), Black Elk’s people make their way ahead of Crazy Horse and the others toward Red Cloud Agency, which is near the Soldiers’ Town, and in the Moon When the Ponies Shed... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Killing of Crazy Horse
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...Moon When the Calf Grows Hair (September), Black Elk’s people pack up their things at Red Cloud Agency and head to Spotted Tail’s camp, but Red Cloud’s people catch up to them... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
The next evening, Black Elk’s people are at Red Cloud ’s agency when some soldiers take Crazy Horse to the Soldiers’ Town nearby. Black Elk... (full context)
Chapter 12: Grandmother’s Land
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...Elk’s people to move to a different agency. The band splits up, half going with Red Cloud , and the other half—including Black Elk—going with Spotted Tail. Black Elk and some others... (full context)
Chapter 25: The End of the Dream
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...Some warriors want to form a larger war-party, but people are quickly losing faith, and Red Cloud convinces them to surrender because it is winter and he doesn’t think they will make... (full context)