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The Readers

Third Tuesday of the month, 5:00 p.m., in the homes of its members. Co-Chairmen Jack Cobau (313-885-1650) and David Morrow (313-640-9756).  Contact for a copy of our current book list.  All SMC members are welcome to join our discussion, whether or not you have read the book.

The Heart of Everything That Is
by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

“The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend” is Bob Drury and Tom Clavin’s biography of Red Cloud, including a description of Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868), the only war that the United States lost to an American Indian tribe. Published in 2013, the book was a New York Times bestseller and a Salon best book of the year.

Although the life of Red Cloud is hardly “an un-told story,” he has never been as well-known as his contemporaries such as Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull, the Lakota chiefs involved in the defeat of Custer at Little Big Horn. The authors make the case that the success of Red Cloud in uniting the disparate tribes of Plains Indians and employing guerrilla warfare tactics against US Army troops, including synchronizing attacks at several locations at the same time, made him the most feared and effective Native American leader.

Red Cloud was born in Nebraska in 1822. His father was a member of the Brulé Lakota tribe, while his mother was an Oglala, one of the other seven sub-tribes of the Lakota (also known as Sioux). Because the Lakota are a matrilineal society, Red Cloud was raised as an Oglala, but the fact that his father was an alcoholic and a Brulé made any advancement in the tribe difficult. His natural abilities as a warrior and leader soon became apparent, however, and he earned the respect of other Oglala leaders by participating in raids against other tribes.

The Lakota were nomadic hunters and warriors, attacking other tribes for horses and territory. From Minnesota, they moved westward into the Dakotas and Wyoming, pushing the Crow out of the Powder River Country. As more white settlers moved into or through their land, the Lakota and other tribes fought back, raiding wagon trains, farms and ranches. In 1851, the US called the Plains Indians together near Fort Laramie, Wyoming and negotiated a treaty that protected travelers on the Oregon Trail, attempted to stop the tribes from attacking each other, and guaranteed that the Great Plains would be Indian territory forever. Neither side complied with the treaty. Gold was discovered in Montana, and the Bozemen Trail was blazed right through Indian land and guarded with three forts.

By 1865, Red Cloud had risen to become the Head Man of the Oglala and had witnessed the loss of Indian territory, the depletion of the buffalo herds, and the breaking of numerous promises by the white man. He determined that it was now time to expel the Americans. His desperation was shared by other tribes, and in a large war council, they agreed to his plan to attack the forts on the Bozeman Trail. A number of skirmishes led to the Fetterman Fight in 1866 where a force of 2,000 Indians ambushed an Army detachment, killing all 81. In 1868, the US sued for peace, agreeing to abandon the three Boze-man forts.

The Readers found this volume an interesting and well-researched story of a part of American history that most were only vaguely aware of. Some felt the pace bogged down in the middle with the description of the history and alliances of the various western tribes before Red Cloud’s War. We were repulsed to read of the brutality of Indian warfare, which didn’t stop at scalping. Others were saddened by the duplicitous treatment of Native Americans with policies that could be referred to today as ethnic cleansing. Most Readers would recommend this book to those with an interest in the history of the American West.

Join us on October 17th to discuss “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. We will meet at the home of Roy Vorhees at 22640 Madison St, St. Clair Shores at 5 pm. RSVP to (586) 775-5388.

Grosse Pointe Senior Men’s Club Readers 2017 Book List


Have questions or need directions or copies of the books?  Call either:
Jack Cobau: 313-885-1650 or  David Morrow: 313-640-9756

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