Stacey Kayne: A Glimpse of Red Cloud’s War


My new series I’m currently writing is set in Montana, 1867, a setting and time period chose mostly because of my interest in Chief Red Cloud, one of the fiercest enemies the U.S. Army ever fought. He led the successful Indian Campaign known as Red Cloud’s War between 1866 and 1868. There are so many one-sided tragic battles in Native American history, and the victory Red Cloud achieved, however short lived, has been a fascination of mine. Red Cloud foresaw the expulsion of the Lakota from their land. In June of 1865 Red Cloud’s Lakota Sioux joined a coalition lead by Woqini (Roman Nose) of the Cheyenne, to attack a military post on the North Platte River.

In 1866 the military was building forts along the Bozeman Trail straight through the Lakota Territory of Wyoming and Montana—a violation of their treaty. As miners and pioneers started encroaching on Lakota Land, Red Cloud feared the demise of the Indian way of life there. He started Red Cloud’s war, which was the most successful war an Indian nation ever waged against the US Army. Through a number of battles and series of attacks on the forts over two years, he was able to drive out military troops.

Red Cloud’s victories resulted in a new Treaty of Fort Laramie by which the United States abandoned all forts on the Bozeman Trail and acknowledged Lakota possession of what is now the Western half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills, and much of Montana and Wyoming. As the Military retreated, warriors followed close behind, burning the forts to the ground.

Sadly, peace was short-lived. Red Cloud never again went to war against the USA. He made several visits to Washington, DC and undertook speaking tours in Eastern cities, lecturing in 1870 at the Cooper Union in New York City. In 1874, General Custer attacked Red Cloud. Red Cloud did not take part in the Lakota war of 1876–77 with Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and other war leaders.

Despite his peaceful ways, he was removed by the government from his position as chief in 1877, and he and his people were removed to the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota. Red Cloud continued to fight for the freedom of his people. At Pine Ridge, he fought corrupt Indian agents who stole from the natives. He died in 1909 at the age of 87.

Certainly all/most of these details won’t be in my books, though I do hope to give a glimpse of the struggles faced by the miners, settlers, soldiers and Lakota—all of whom are characters in my upcoming books. As a historical romance writer, I always strive to weave in bits of history that really strikes a chord in me. As a historical romance reader, I love to learn little tidbit on historical eras I might otherwise not be exposed to—sneaky history lessons.

Can you think of some historical tidbit of surprising interest you gleaned from a romance novel?


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19 thoughts on “Stacey Kayne: A Glimpse of Red Cloud’s War”

  1. I am unable to think of an exact tidbit that I gleaned from a novel but I do remember thinking, ‘I didn’t know that’ as I have read many historical novels. Thanks to the historical novelists who do all the research.

  2. Not so much any specific tidbit, but I have learned a lot at P&P about our Native Americans and the history of many things. Including men’s underwear :).

  3. One interesting thing I found because of research was that white children raised by Indians then returned to the whites had a terrible time adjusting to the white world.

    I think it’s a fascinating look at just how different the two lives native and white, were. The wild, completely free way Native Amaerican’s lived. The children seemed able to adjust to the Indian life, but not back to the white life.

    I think a closer study of that might explain real fundamental cultural differences that could help both people.

  4. Stacey, your new series sounds wonderful! Love the bits of history you weave into your stories. Red Cloud’s story is amazing. I’m touched that he tried so desperately to seek peace and yet not give in to the whites. That was a fine line to walk. He was very honorable.

    Can’t wait to read the first book of this series!

  5. Hi Stacey, I learn so much from a good historical novel, I can’t pinpoint one specific thing. That’s why I love them. Without those details, we’ve got nothing more than a “costume drama” that could happen anywhere.

    The info on Red Cloud is amazing and as always, tragic. Thank you.

  6. Hi Connie! Same here 🙂 LaVyrle Spencer always managed to have really interesting little tidbits, like specifics on running a printing press in the 1800’s, boat carving and racing in the early 1900’s, a few detailed culinary insights that made me go, “Huh, that’s neat!”

  7. Hi Mary! I’d think that would be a tough adjustment both ways—as well as dealing the prejudice on both sides which had to be really hard for kids to deal with—something I also touch on in the news series. The hero of the first book is half Lakota and was raised with his people until he was thirteen. My heroine had lived with her Indian husband for five years before he died and she and has a son. She’s struggles to get by in the white world again–not a welcoming or understanding lot.

    Native American life certainly had its own sense of structure–children expected to do chores and learn their way of life, just as in any society. Many homes too, had a set of rules to be followed. For many Native American tribes there was specific etiquette to be followed while setting up a tipi or entering another’s Tipi.

  8. I love the little history lessons we get from reading the P&P blog… as for historical novels, I have learned interesting bits and pieces through numerous books. Mostly some important historical figure at the time of the book or some conflict that occurred… 😀

  9. Hi Linda! Thanks! It’s really heartbreaking to look back and see how hard so many fought against a larger, unstoppable force.

    Sure hope I get this book done SOON!

  10. Hi Stacey,
    I can’t remember tidbits, since my mind isn’t what it used to be, 🙂 but I did write Renegade Wife about a mail-ordered bride set to marry a man raised by the Cheyenne. And I learned sooo much and so did my heroine when she became a teacher for the young ones. It was a fun story to write and I hope you enjoy weaving those little details into your stories too!!

  11. I haven’t read RENEGADE WIFE yet, Charlene, but I love that cover 🙂 Story sounds great! And yeah…research feeds my addiction to all those research books *G*

  12. I can’t think of one right now. My brain is overloaded with Harry Potter. Have done a week of programs and just got back from the movie. I do know there have been LOTS of wonderful little pieces of information I’ve picked up on life in medieval times through history to current time. Most of the authors who became my favorites did so because of the historical content of their works as well as the quality of their writing.

  13. I can’t think of any little tid bits right now but I know I have picked up a few over the years. My mind just isn’t what it used to be. I know that had a tough time building the stage coach passage’s through the mountains.

  14. I was a witness to a battle led by him on the N. Platte river. He attacked a train station on the river, at the city, and I was one of the wagon train that happened to be going through then. I was lucky enough to hide, in the river, under an overhang of brush, until the massacre was over. I was in shock at the brutality of it.

    A white man found me sometime later, and pulled me out of my hiding place. He was traveling as a scout with other, peaceful indians. He took me with him, and later married me. I was a mess for a while, from watching so many die like that. I was young then, 13? I believe he married me at 16. Not sure about that. He saved me, and was a good man, but he died about 5 years later, and I didn’t live much longer, ten years? It was a hard life.


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