Red Cloud, or Makhpia-sha (1822–1909), a principal chief of the Oglala Teton Sioux Indians and leader in the fighting often called Red Cloud's War, 1866–68.
In 1866 the federal government established Forts Reno, Phil Kearny, and C. F. Smith along the Bozeman Trail, which led from northeastern Colorado to the Montana gold fields. The route crossed prized hunting grounds of the Sioux, and Red Cloud led his followers to war to protect their lands.
Red Cloud's warriors placed the forts under virtual siege, and on December 21, 1866, annihilated a force of 82 men under Captain William J. Fetterman near Fort Kearny. In the summer of 1867, the Indians mounted heavy attacks on Forts Smith and Kearny. Although beaten back by the soldiers in both actions, Red Cloud's band kept the army on the defensive. As a result, the federal government yielded. The government negotiated a peace treaty with Red Cloud in 1868 that led to the abandonment of the trail and the closing of the forts.
Red Cloud Agency, a reservation, was established for Red Cloud's followers near Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Red Cloud thereafter supported cooperation with U.S. authorities, but also continued to uphold the traditional Sioux way of life. He took no part in the Sioux wars of 1876 and 1890–91. He died at Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota.