In Memoriam: Reflecting on the Life of Chief Oliver Red Cloud

posted on July 9, 2013
by Fr. Peter Klink, SJ

On July 4, 2013, our community lost a true leader. Chief Oliver Red Cloud, a fourth generation descendent of the historic Chief Red Cloud and a longstanding and committed advocate for Red Cloud Indian School, passed on to the spirit world.  Former Red Cloud President Fr. Peter Klink S.J.,who worked closely with Chief Oliver for over 25 years, offered the following reflection on the powerful legacy he leaves behind.

Much like his great great grandfather, the historic Chief Red Cloud, Oliver Red Cloud always had the best interest of the Lakota people at heart. He was always attentive to the realities and challenges confronting the people and attempting to chart a path that would allow them to thrive rather than simply survive. Aware of the core values of the Lakota way of life and deeply concerned about the preservation of the Lakota language and culture, Chief Oliver was a Lakota warrior of this century, looking out for the rights of the people at all levels of government. A defender of the land, Chief Oliver cared deeply for the children and the families of the Lakota Nation.

In his many dealings with the administration at Red Cloud Indian School, Chief Oliver always expressed a strong commitment to providing Lakota children with quality education. He often pointed to the significant role his great great grandfather played in establishing today's faith-based educational efforts at Red Cloud. He also was deeply interested in the religious presence of the Lakota Catholic churches in the communities of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

What struck me most deeply about my friend Chief Oliver was the sincerity of his concern for whatever would strengthen families and their children. Whether it was the quality and caring of education in the classroom or nurturing of the spiritual path that strengthens families and their children in the community, Chief Oliver was always supportive and encouraging of positive efforts on their behalf.

We may not always have agreed on specific strategies, but I consistently found agreement with him on the goal of positive change and the deep desires of his heart for the Lakota people.

His leadership and passionate caring will be deeply missed.

-Fr. Peter Klink, S.J.

Photo: Oliver Red Cloud at Dedication of New High School w/ Commemorative Scissors
All Rights Reserved ©Red Cloud Indian School