Henry Roe Cloud
(1884 – 1950)
Born in 1884, Henry Roe Cloud’s birth name was Wonah’ilayhunka or “War Chief.” He was a member of the Bird Clan from the Winnebago Reservation in NE Nebraska.
At age seven, he left to attend Genoa Indian School, a government-run school over 100 miles from the reservation. He converted to Christianity and his baptized name was Henry Clarence Cloud. After his parents died Cloud attended Santee Mission School, a vocation school for Indians, where he trained to be a printer and blacksmith.
In 1902, he enrolled at Mount Hermon Preparatory School for Boys in Northfield, Massachusetts.
While an undergraduate at Yale, Cloud established a close relationship with a couple involved in Christian mission work. After the couple adopted him, Cloud took their surname (Roe) as his middle name. In 1910, Cloud became the first Indian to graduate from Yale. He also received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology in 1912. The following year he received a theology degree and became an ordained Presbyterian minister.
In 1915 he founded the Roe Indian Institute – later renamed the American Indian Institute. At the time it served as the only Native American-run college preparatory school in the country.
In 1928, he co-authored the Meriam Report – which led to many reforms concerning Indian policy. Cloud helped found the Society of American Indians and he promoted the establishment of high schools for Indians. He became Superintendent of Haskell Institute in Kansas – the first full-blood Indian to hold this position. During his time at Haskell, he helped develop the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. In 1936, Cloud became Supervisor of Indian Education at the Bureau of Indian Affairs
In 1947 he moved to Oregon and served as Superintendent of the Umatilla Indian Agency. The following year he became regional representative for the Grande Ronde-Siletz Indian Agency.
In 1950, he died of a heart attack in Siletz, Oregon.