Red Cloud Agency

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Red cloud agency.jpg
Red Cloud Agency. Drawing by Ivan Pranishnikopf, from photographs. Published in Harper's Illustrated Weekly, May 18, 1876.

The Red Cloud Agency was an Indian agency for the Oglala Lakota as well as the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, from 1871 to 1878. It was located at three different sites in Wyoming Territory and Nebraska before being moved to South Dakota. It was then renamed the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Red Cloud Agency No. 1 (1871-1873)

As stipulated in the Fort Laramie Treaty (1868), the US government built Indian agencies for the various Lakota and other Plains tribes. These were forerunners to the modern Indian reservations. The Red Cloud Agency was established for the Oglala Lakota in 1871 on the North Platte River in Wyoming Territory. The location was one mile west of the present town of Henry, Nebraska.

Red Cloud Agency No. 2 (1873-1877)

In August 1873, the agency was moved to the northwestern corner of Nebraska, near the present town of Crawford. Constructed on a hill overlooking the White River, the agency buildings included a large warehouse, offices, home for the agent, blacksmith shop and stables for horses. A school house was later added. Two trading stores were also built adjacent to the agency.

Following the killing of agency clerk Frank Appleton, the government assigned US troops to the agency in March 1874. The military encampment was named Camp Robinson (later known as Fort Robinson). The Red Cloud Agency was the center of much activity during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. In May 1877, Crazy Horse and allied leaders came with their people to the Red Cloud Agency for surrender. Following the killing of Crazy Horse, the agency was moved further west. The site of Red Cloud Agency No. 2 is included in Fort Robinson and Red Cloud Agency, a United States National Historic Landmark.

Red Cloud Agency No. 3 (1877-1878)

The agency was moved to the White River in October 1877, in present day, South-Central South Dakota.

Pine Ridge Agency

In 1878, the Red Cloud Agency was relocated to southern South Dakota and renamed the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Indian Agents

  • James Wham
  • Jared Daniels
  • Dr. John J. Saville - a physician from Sioux City Iowa, arrived as agent in the fall of 1873. During his administration, the army established a post nearby. The first treaty negotiations for the Black Hills were held between the US government and the Lakota. Accused of graft, Saville resigned as agent in late 1875, although a commission investigation had cleared him of wrongdoing.
  • Valentine McGillycuddy
  • James S. Hastings
  • Lieut. Charles A. Johnson
  • Dr. James Irwin


Further reading

  • George E. Hyde, Red Cloud's Folk: A History of the Oglala Sioux Indians (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937).
  • James C. Olson, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1965).
  • Catherine Price, The Oglala People, 1841-1879: A Political History, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).
  • Roger T. Grange, Jr, Fort Robinson: Outpost on the Plains, Reprinted from Nebraska History, Volume 39, No.3, September 1958.
  • Mari Sandoz, Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1961).

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