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Chief Blue Horse and Chief Red Cloud

were raised as brothers by Chief Old Smoke, one of the most powerful Lakota Sioux Chiefs.

were brothers, warriors, statesmen and leaders of the Oglala Lakota for over 50 years.

lifelong relationship chronicles the history of the Oglala Lakota through the 18th and early 19th centuries.

fought together as young warriors in war parties against the Crow, Omaha, Pawnee, Arikara and and Shoshone Bull Bear incident for father

Red Cloud was adopted at the age of three by Chief Old Smoke, his maternal uncle, when his parents died.

Blue Horse and Red Cloud

Blue House was a U.S. Army Indian Scout and intermediary to Red Cloud during Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868)

negotiators and signatories to the Ft. Larmie Treaty

Lakota Delegations to Washington, D.C.

Blue Horse and Red Cloud traveled in the Eastern cities in Lakota delegations

opposed Great Sioux War of 1876

both opposed Ghost Dances and armed opposition


Blue Horse and Red Cloud statesman for the Oglala Lakota who fought to deflect the worst effects of white rule feed, clothe and educate their people preserve sacred Oglala Lakota land and culture


lived into their 80‘s died on the Pine Ridge Reservation within a year

Red Cloud, a cousin, was adopted by Old Smoke at the age of 3 when his parents died Blue Horse, Big Mouth and Red Cloud were raised as brothers mentored by Old Smoke All became Oglala chiefs

Red Cloud Redman’s George Washington

Wild West Shows
Blue Horse signed on Red Cloud made frequent appearances,but was not billed as a member of the entertainers.

Son of the Shadow-maker pictures painted same time by Burbank

1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Both spoke at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

Final Days Passed within a year

Chief Blue Horse and his brother Chief Red Cloud fought for over 50 years to deflect the worst effects of white rule; feed, clothe and educate their people and preserve sacred Oglala Lakota land and heritage.

Chief Blue Horse and Chief Red Cloud were warriors, statesmen and leaders of the Oglala Lakota for over 50 years. Their special lifelong relationship chronicles the history of the Oglala Lakota through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Chief Blue Horse and Chief Red Cloud fought to deflect the worst effects of white rule; feed, clothe and educate their people and preserve sacred Oglala Lakota land and heritage.

Chief Red Cloud was the brother of Chief Blue Horse. Red Cloud was adopted by Old Chief Smoke, his maternal uncle, around 1825 at the age of three after Red Cloud’s parents died.

Were first cousins.

Chief Blue Horse and Red Cloud were born the same day. [1]

Blue Horse and Red Cloud were raised as brothers and mentored by Old Chief Smoke. As a young warrior, Blue Horse led war parties with Red Cloud against the Ute, Shoshone, Bannock, Arikara, Crow, Omaha, Pawnee and Piegan.[2]

The Old Chief Bull Bear incident[edit]

In 1841, Blue Horse was shot in the back with an arrow during a skirmish with the followers of Old Chief Bull Bear, a challenger to his father Old Chief Smoke. Old Chief Bull Bear contemptuously threw dust in the face Old Chief Smoke and challenged to him to a fight. After the Old Chief Smoke refused, Old Chief Bull Bear killed Old Chief Smoke’s favorite horse. Red Cloud, Old Chief Smoke’s adopted son, sought revenge, and later during a fight with Old Chief Bull Bear’s band killed old Chief Bull Bear. Blue Horse, who was with Red Cloud, was wounded during the incident.[3] The Old Chief Bull Bear Incident was significant in Oglala Lakota history and resulted in the splitting of the bands.[4] Nevertheless, Old Chief Smoke adopted Old Chief Bull Bear’s son, Young Bull Bear, and raised him in the Smoke household.[5]

Intermediary to Red Cloud[edit]

Chief Red Cloud did not participate in the Fetterman Fight. Rather, Red Cloud was with Blue Horse who had carried tobacco from General Harney at Ft. Laramie inviting Red Cloud and the Northern Oglala leadership to talks at the fort. The reaction was negative, with the tobacco packages thrown in the fire by angry warriors. Blue Horse remained in the Red Cloud's village for several days at the time of the Fetterman Fight. Blue Horse's return to Ft. Laramie with intelligence is noted in reports of the Upper Platte Indian Agency and accounts by Lakota eyewitnesses. Chief Blue Horse, Chief Big Mouth and other Wágluȟe acted as intermediaries throughout Red Cloud’s War.

Chief Blue Horse and Chief Red Cloud were a signatories to the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. The treaty was an agreement between the United States and the Lakota Nation guaranteeing the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills and land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The Treaty ended Red Cloud's War. In the Spring of 1868, U.S. peace commissioners were sent to ort Laramie. The Treaty of Fort Laramie declared the Powder River Country "unceded territory" to be used as a reserve for Cheyenne and Lakota. The treaty also established the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills and covering the territory of West River, west of the Missouri River in present-day Nebraska, and including parts of South Dakota.

Delegations to Washington[edit]

In 1872, Blue Horse accompanied Red Cloud and a Lakota delegation to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Ulysses S. Grant. Waiting decision from President Grant on continued negotiations, Red Cloud and Blue Horse toured New York City. The New York Herald reported the gala event:

“During the late visit of Red Cloud and his party to New York, they went to the Olympic Theater to witness the funny pantomime of Humpty Dumpty. The Herald says: They stalked into the theater cool as a cucumber, and took orchestra chairs without saying a word.... The wild Indian is a stolid being naturally. He does not believe in manifesting astonishment or surprise at anything, but the ballet was too much for their gravity. Before Blue Horse was half an hour in the theater he had fallen desperately in love with a shapely girl who performed as a coryphee in the ballet. This young lady saw the affection beaming visibly out of the eyes of Blue Horse, and it touched her heart so deeply that she jumped three times as high in every movement as her salary would permit.”

Blue Horse's opposition to the Oglala Census of 1874[edit]

In November 1873, Dr. John J. Saville, superintendent of the Red Cloud Agency, ordered a census of the Oglala to enumerate the agency Indians. The food situation was desperate. Blue Horse and Red Cloud opposed the census knowing the count would result in a loss of rations for the Oglala and resisted threats from the government to withhold food and supplies.[6] “The Cincinnati Commercial thus accounts for the refusal of Red Cloud and Blue Horse to allow a census of their people to be taken.


Congress of Indian Educators[edit]

On January 28, 1904, Chief Blue Horse requested employment as a Show Indian for the St. Louis World’s Fair. Initially, S.M. McCowan of the Department of Anthropology replied to Blue Horse that he had no use for him and that it was not the purpose of the government to expend money bringing large numbers of "old Indians" to the Exposition. McCowan discouraged Indians he did not consider educated from speaking or attending the Congress of Indian Educators and distanced himself from anyone who worked in Wild West Shows. However, McCowan made eventually made exceptions to the best-known Native American orators at the St. Louis World's Fair, Chief Blue Horse and Chief Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota, both eighty-three years old, and they were asked to speak at the 1904 Congress of Indian Educators. Their interpreter was Henry Standing Soldier, an educated man who had been a participant in the 1901 Pan American Exposition Wild West Show. Anthropologists lectured and educated Indians held congresses, while Indian students staged band concerts, dance exhibitions, dramatic presentations and marched in parades.[7]

Final days[edit]

Chief Blue Horse passed to the "Sand Hills" at the Pine Ridge Agency in 1908 at the age of 87. Blue Horse's epitaph was reported by E.A. Burbank in Blue Horse's final letter to the Son of the Shadow-Maker. “If you ever in your travels should meet my Great Father "Wakan Tanka", please ask him to remember Blue Horse.”

  1. ^ E.A. Burbank, Famous War Chiefs I have Known and Painted: "Chief Blue Horse", Harvard Independent, December 1, 1910, at http://www.harvard-diggins.org/Burbank/Years/1910/1910_HI_Chief_Blue_Horse.htm
  2. ^ Edwin S. Curtis, “The North American Indian: Volume 3, (1908) at p.183.
  3. ^ John H. Monnett, "Where a hundred soldiers were killed: the struggle for the Powder River", p.23 (2008).
  4. ^ George E. Hyde," A Sioux Chronicle", University of Oklahoma Press, p.88 (October 1993)
  5. ^ James R. Walker, Raymond J. DeMallie, Elaine Jahner, "Lakota Belief and Ritual", Bison Books (May 1, 1991)
  6. ^ Thomas R. Buecker, “Fort Robinsion and the American West, 1874-1899”, (1999) at p.5.
  7. ^ Nancy J. Parezo, Don D. Fowler, “Anthropology goes to the fair: the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition”, (2007) at p. 354,459.