Most people have probably never heard about “Chief Red Cloud,” but he is gaining a great deal of importance in the Native American historical community. Chief Red Cloud remains an anomaly in Native American history, both a strong supporter of Native American heritage and Hitler.

The man who became known as “Chief Red Cloud” was originally named Elwood A. Towner. He was educated at Salem’s Chemawa Indian boarding school, and went on to serve in the U.S. Marines during the First World War. After the war, Towner studied law at Willamette University and did a great deal of work for local tribes in his home state of Oregon.

Before Mr. Towner became known for his support of the National Socialists, he was heavily involved in advocating for Oregon’s Siletz Reservation in the 1890s. It wasn’t until the 1930s that he became more interested in supporting the Third Reich.

Towner eventually began speaking tours in the 1930s in cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Phoenix. People who saw him speak noted that Mr. Towner wore the traditional garb of a Native American, complete with a feathered headdress and a thunderbird design, but he would also wear a Swastika prominently on his headband. He was noted for his rousing speeches promoting Native American heritage, German National Socialism, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism.

Chief Red Cloud was most powerful in the 1930s and 40s when he criticized President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic policies. Mr. Towner actively criticized Roosevelt’s New Deal, or “Jew Deal” as he called it, and called for both Native Americans and whites to support German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

Native American historians are only now unearthing the strange connection between the National Socialists and Native Americans before and during World War II. Interestingly, Hitler himself was fond of Native American warriors, and many Germans openly admired the Sioux warriors. This made Nazi sympathizers in America open and accepting of Chief Red Cloud during the 30s and 40s.

Of course, Chief Red Cloud was an outlier in the Native American community. However, many Native American historians interested in the Great Depression and World War II years are reevaluating the strange and complex history his story speaks to.

Categories: Chief Red Cloud, Native American

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