To be a chief in the Lakota way is an honor that is earned by providing service to the people. One of the honored and respected chiefs of the past was Chief Red Cloud. A brave and skillful war chief who helped his people resist genocide. He was also among the chiefs that negotiated the Fort Laramie treaties. These treaties promised that the Lakota people could remain on their lands as their own sovereign nation and receive assistance from the government for food, health care and other services in exchange for ending the war. These treaties, though often not respected by the US government, remain in effect today.
The great grandson of Chief Red Cloud, known as Oliver Red Cloud is now a chief of the Lakota people. Now in his 90’s, he has served the better part of his adult life fighting for the rights of his people and as an inspirational leader helping to preserve the culture and spirit of the Lakota people. The war on the Lakota people has ended, but the cultural genocide continues. Although native peoples were able to win back some of their rights to preserve their cultures, languages and practice their own religions, there is continuous pressure put on them that threatens their survival. Among the modern forces that threaten and invade on the Lakota nation are the Cameco and PowerTech uranium corporations and the TransCanada oil pipeline. These powerful multi-national and multi-billion dollar corporations use their influence over the US government to supercede the treaty rights of the Lakota people. They are taking over land and causing radioactive contamination that will make some places unliveable for thousands of years. The TransCanada pipeline will pass right through the Lakota nation and put at risk the Ogallala Aquifer which is the main source of drinking water for millions of people. Chief Oliver Red Cloud has been outspoken in his resistance to these efforts. Consulting with the United Nations on the rights of native people. Meeting with the US government to express the wishes of the Lakota people to protect and maintain their lands and to have the area of the Black Hills returned to them as promised in the treaties.
Chief Oliver Red Cloud is now close to the end of his life. He is in the hospital in Rapid City and loved ones are travelling there to be with him. We have been asked to join in prayer with our Lakota brothers and sisters. Please take a moment to hold him, his family and the Lakota people in your heart and to send good prayers for his peaceful passing and to help those who are closest to him cope with their grief, and to inspire the next generation of leaders to step into their roles and continue to fight for the Lakota people.