BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wisc. (WEAU) - With many families camping or lighting fireworks, more than one hundred people gathered to celebrate, for a different reason on July 4, near Black River Falls.
“1925 was when Native Americans across the country were finally recognized as citizens of the United States, so during this time, we never really acknowledged July 4 as our holiday. So with this day, that's why it was adopted by our legislature to make this the Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. Day,” Ho Chunk Nation Heritage Preservation Executive Director Robert Mann said.
“It's Independence Day, it's Mitchell Red Cloud day, so for us it's a good day,” Red Cloud Jr.’s grandson Moses Cleveland said.
Born in Hatfield, Wisconsin, Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. joined the Marines as a teenager. After fighting in WWII and returning home, he decided to join the Army to fight in the Korean War.
“He kept intense fire and by warning his comrades, they were able to retreat and he stayed and never left,” Mann said.
Armed with heavy ammunition, Red Cloud Jr. took on a Chinese attack on his own, held up against a tree, while getting hit by gunfire, family said.
“If it wasn't for him, (his Company E) would've gotten overrun. He saved all their lives. He sacrificed his life for them,” Mann said.
Sixty-two years after the Congressional Medal of Honor winner's death, the Red Cloud family, and the Ho Chunk Nation, gathers on July 4, in his honor with traditional singers, dancers and drummers filling pow wow grounds near Black River Falls.
“It's a little different. I think we prefer this, then we'll all get together with our families and do things later on. For this period of time, for about five hours. This is us. This is Ho Chunk,” Red Cloud Jr’s daughter Annita Red Cloud said.
“We've had numerous Ho Chunks killed in battle. And they say when a Ho Chunk warrior is killed in battle, his spirit lives forever,” Mann said.
"I believe that Mitchell Red Cloud does,” Annita said.