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Red Shirt

Oglala

 

 

He was an Oglala soldier at the Old Red Cloud Agency in 1871. Surely he wasn't present at the Little Bighorn. He was rather an Agency Indian. In 1880 he traveled with the delegation of Red Cloud to Washington D.C. Seven years later he joined to the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and toured in Europe also. He still lived in 1909. — Agnes

Here's a studio portrait of him from a Washington-delegation:

Red Shirt by Charles M. Bell
By Charles M. Bell

— mort aux vaches

During the early reservation period, there were three men named Red Shirt living on Pine Ridge. Just a caution for the possibility of confusing the various individuals.

The Red Shirt appearing in the photographs and who traveled with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show was, as already noted, a member of the Wagluhe or Loafer Band, generally considered to be a mixture of Oglala and Brule.

In an interview in 1923, Red Shirt noted that he was born near a fort on the Platte River in Wyoming, the name of which he could not recall. Hans recently forwarded a reference to me that indicated Red Shirt was born near Orin Junction. For those of you not from Wyoming, Orin is roughly twenty miles downstream from Fort Fetterman.

Several books have indicated that Red Shirt was the son of Red Dog. This is incorrect. I have not been able to locate the original reference for this information but it is possible that this was a reference to one of the other Red Shirts (Remember, Red Dog was a Hunkpapa who married into the Oyuhpe Oglala).

Several sources indicate that our Red Shirt was the son of a white man and a Lakota mother. We do not yet know their names.

A young man named Red Shirt was part of the 1870 delegation to Washington D.C., though I can not say for certain that this was him. By the time of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, he was a rising young man within one of the military societies, an "up and coming" individual among the Wagluhe. This band had been led by the prominent headman Big Mouth, until he was shot and killed by Spotted Tail; Big Mouth's brother Blue Horse by the mid-1870s was the most influential member of this band. In the fall of 1876 as the army dismounted and disarmed the agency bands, Blue Horse was arrested by Gen. Mackenzie for not turning in northern Indians slipping into his village. After that, Blue Horse seems to disappear from prominence, perhaps he stepped back from active political engagement. In this vacuum, several young men emerged as leaders among the Wagluhe, most prominently American Horse and Three Bears. Red Shirt seems to be most closely associated with Three Bears during this period; perhaps kind of his lieutenant.

Given his association with the Loafers, I doubt that Red Shirt was at the Little Bighorn, though we should note that a number of young men had gone out independently from their band. In later years, newspaper articles about the Wild West Show specifically stated that Red Shirt was at the Little Bighorn, but that should be taken with some skeptism, given the Buffalo Bill Cody PR machine. No doubt it was good for business for the Indians in his show to be advertised as having been at the LBH. But the possibility cannot be entirely discounted without further research.

Red Shirt became leader of a small band of Loafers on Pine Ridge about 1878-79. In his 1923 interview, he showed commissioners his chief's certificate dated 1879 signed by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior. In 1880, he traveled to Carlisle Barracks and on to Washington D.C. with Red Cloud.

Red Shirt's leadership role appears to have only lasted a few years. He soon became involved with the Wild West Shows which seems to be his main economic support for the next several decades. We will have to do some more research into his final decade to know if he became involved again at all in Oglala politics. He died in 1925 (I have the actual date at home, but cannot recall it off the top of my head). — Ephriam Dickson

Red Shirt was one of the leading Indians with Cody's Wild West Show, but he left them in Barcelona in 1889 following a quarrel with Rocky Bear in France. Rocky Bear then took over as the leading Indian. One reason suggested for the quarrel was jealousy. Apparently, Red Shirt had more luck with the French women than Rocky Bear. Must have been that hair - although I think I recall seeing seen a photo where it's cropped!

Nice photo of him visiting Carlisle:

Red Shirt at Carlisle

— Grahame Wood

Red Shirt
Red Shirt stands in the center with pipe. His hair looks shorter. According to the description this photo was made around 1887.

— Agnes

Here's another photo about Red Shirt with a better view of his peace medal from 1904:

Red Shirt by Henry W. Wyman, St. Louis Fair, 1904
Red Shirt by Henry W. Wyman, St. Louis Fair, 1904

— Agnes

The Waghlue (I'm pretty sure that spelling is dead wrong) band of the Oglalas was the "progressive" branch, located at or around Red Cloud Agency. Loafers were the term used by others on them. Red Shirt was as long away from the LBH as he could be. — mort aux vaches

Until Ephriam's information above I always thought that Red Shirt was a son of Red Dog, not only because I read it somewhere but also because he was in that 1880 delegation photo as the youngest member and so he seemed like a son of one of these chiefs to me:

Red Shirt

Here are some more photos of him:

Red Shirt in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Red Shirt in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

Elliott and Fry Photo from London
Elliott and Fry Photo from London

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Godkin's Red Shirt:

Red Shirt by Godkin

Here's yet another photo of our man. As you can see, it was taken on a Wild West Show visit to London by Elliott and Fry of Baker Street:

Red Shirt in London

— Grahame Wood

One more Godkin photo of Red Shirt:

Red Shirt by Godkin

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Red Shirt in profile by Bell:

Red Shirt by Bell

Yet another photo of Red Shirt - this time with Cody's company somewhere in Italy, 1889/1890. Front row: No Neck, Rocky Bear, Black Heart, Georgie Duffy, Cody, Bessie Farrell, Annie Oakley, Red Shirt. Others in back row: Buck Taylor (fifth from right), Johnny Baker (fourth from right), Carter Couturier (?), advertising agent (second from right), Has No Horses (?) (far right):

Red Shirt in Italy, 1889

— Grahame Wood


 

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