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Sioux military leader Crazy Horse is killed

Sioux military leader Crazy Horse is killed

Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted by a U.S. soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. A year earlier, Crazy Horse was among the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana Territory. The battle, in which 265 members of the Seventh Cavalry, including Custer, were killed, was the worst defeat of the U.S. Army in its long history of warfare with the Native Americans.

After the victory at Little Bighorn, U.S. Army forces led by Colonel Nelson Miles pursued Crazy Horse and his followers. His tribe suffered from cold and starvation, and on May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse surrendered to General George Crook at the Red Cloud Indian Agency in Nebraska. He was sent to Fort Robinson, where he was killed in a scuffle with soldiers who were trying to imprison him in a cell.

READ MORE: Crazy Horse: His Life and Legacy


What To Know About Crazy Horse on the Anniversary of His Assassination

September 5 is the anniversary of the assassination of one of the greatest warriors the world has ever known: Tasunke Witko — better known as Crazy Horse.

On that day in 1877, at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, he was bayoneted in the back while being restrained and placed under arrest. He had come in peace, but was killed nonetheless.

Crazy Horse was a renowned war leader who played a leading role in pretty much every major military excursion the Lakota engaged in during his lifetime, each one more historic than the last. Under his command, the Lakota repeatedly defeated) the U.S. Army on American soil.

He was a defender of the Lakota People and their allies and a protector of the land when it was being invaded by settlers, gold miners, and the U.S. Cavalry. It was he who led the Lakota to resounding victories at the Fetterman Fight, the Battle of the Rosebud, and Greasy Grass (aka, Little Big Horn).

While he never signed a treaty, his leadership, skill, and strategic brilliance during Red Cloud War paved the way for the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which firmly established Lakota territory and sealed their claim to the Black Hills, which stands to this day.

He was adored and revered by his people and respected by his enemies, but some of the other chiefs were jealous of him. They stoked the fears that the U.S. government and its agents already had about Crazy Horse. They were afraid of his influence and believed that if anyone could lead an insurrection, it was him. That’s why they say the Army planned to imprison him and why he was, quite literally, stabbed in the back.

Crazy Horse was Oglala and Miniconjou Lakota, two subdivisions of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation). According to the Lakota, he was born near Bear Butte, a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

He was a nonconformist, who tribal elders described in oral history to tribal members as quiet and even reclusive. While he was highly spiritual and participated in ceremonies, elders say he didn’t consider himself bound to protocol. Instead, he preferred to follow his own dreams and visions.

It’s been said that a vision gave his life purpose. During a Hanbleceya (or “vision quest”), a Lakota ceremonial rite where one isolates oneself up on a hill and goes without food and water for days, Crazy Horse saw a man riding on horseback during a thunderstorm. Legend has it that the man wore his hair loose with a single feather tied to it and had a lightning bolt painted on his face with hailstones dotting his body. People reached out to grasp the rider, but could not hold him. Crazy Horse realized that he would become that fierce man and that he would fight for his people. He was directed to toss dust over his horse and place a stone behind his ear before battle and told that as long as he took nothing for himself, no bullet or arrow could kill him.

Crazy Horse was rewarded for his valor. The highest honor was bestowed upon him — that of “shirt wearer.” Becoming a shirt wearer is one of the highest formal honors in Lakota Native American Indian culture. Upon accepting the shirt, the men who wore them became an example for others. The were to serve the people and live according to Lakota values. Such a distinction set Crazy Horse apart as a head warrior who carried the power of the Lakota Nation.

He was a hero, but he was human too. He fell in love with Black Buffalo Woman, who left her husband for Crazy Horse, which Lakota women had the right to do. However, her husband was unwilling to accept rejection and he pursued her. He shot Crazy Horse in the face. Crazy Horse survived, but the scandal cost him his status as a shirt wearer.

That didn’t stop him from fulfilling his vision, though.

Lakota historians and biographers believe Crazy Horse didn’t sit for photographs nor, according to his biography on the National Park Service’s website, did he oblige Western reporters with interviews. For that reason, it’s amazing that his legacy is still so strong. It is the people that he devoted his life to who have kept his memory alive. Much of what is known about him now comes from the oral history of the Lakota People themselves.

The spirit of Crazy Horse lives on today. When Lakota and their allies fought the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, a camp on the hill bearing the name of the warrior society he established was among the last to be raided: Last Child.

The spirit of Crazy Horse is one of resistance. It’s bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and the courage never to succumb to tyranny. His spirit is in the Amazon, with indigenous tribes fighting desperately to save the lungs of the planet from fires said to be started by allies of a far-right president . He’s in Hong Kong with young protestors tearing down facial recognition towers. His spirit is with Anishinabe-Dakota activistLeonard Peltier in his jail cell. He’s with the Sunrise Movement and RAICES, the Squad, EZLN, the native Hawaiians fighting the construction of a telescope on the sacred volcano of Mauna Kea, Black Lives Matter, the American Indian Movement, and water protectors and land defenders around the globe. He lives in the heart of every person striving for liberation and every earth warrior fighting to end the climate crisis.

So arm yourself with strong prayers. Cry for a vision. Talk with the ancestors. Be a good relative to all living things. Let your spirit lead you and be ready to sacrifice because some things are worth paying the ultimate price. Crazy Horse knew this. He laid down his life for his people.

It’s said among tribal elders that some of his last words were, "Father, tell the People they can no longer depend on me."

According to the Crazy Horse Memorial, he died around midnight. Tribal elders say his body was buried in secret. Only a select few know its true location.

Leonard Crowdog, the Oglala Lakota Medicine Man, said that we are Crazy Horse’s dream. That includes you, dear reader. In another vision, Crazy Horse saw us all united as one under the Tree of Life.

Now be brave and fight for what you love. The elders say that one of Crazy Horse’s war cries was, “Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!” “Only the Earth lasts forever.”

Stronghearts to the front.

Editor’s note: Some of the details included in this piece were provided to the writer via oral history by Lakota medicine men and Nation elders.

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: The Battle of Little Big Horn, Explained


Crazy Horse — 1842-1877

Crazy Horse, a principal war chief of the Lakota Sioux, was born in 1842 near the present-day city of Rapid City, SD. Called “Curly” as a child, he was the son of an Oglala medicine man and his Brule wife, the sister of Spotted Tail. By the time he was twelve, he had killed a buffalo and received his own horse. His father gave him his own name, Crazy Horse.

While living with his uncle Spotted Tail, Crazy Horse watched as a group of soldiers attacked Sioux leaders who were trying to mediate a dispute. Spotted Tail then led a group of warriors to attack the soldiers. Sometime later Crazy Horse returned from a buffalo hunt to find the village burned to the ground and eighty-six people dead. Finding a few survivors, Crazy Horse was told that U.S. cavalry had attacked the village.

While still a young man Crazy Horse went on a vision quest and had a vivid dream of a rider in a storm on horseback, with long unbraided hair, a small stone in his ear, zig zag lightning decorating his check and hail dotting his body. The storm faded and a red-backed hawk flew over the rider’s head. His father interpreted the dream as a sign of his son’s future greatness in battle. Crazy Horse adopted the costume as his war dress.

During Red Cloud’s War in 1866-1868 Crazy Horse joined in raids against white settlements and forts in Wyoming. When the Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed in 1868 and the Army agreed to abandon its posts along Bozeman Trail, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail settled on reservation lands. Crazy Horse became the war chief of the Oglalas. He was only 24 years old.

Crazy Horse learned in 1874 that General Custer had led an expedition into the sacred Black Hills and found gold at French Creek. Prospectors and speculators swarmed into Sioux land ignoring the fact that the land had been guaranteed to the Lakota by the Fort Laramie Treaty. To ensure the safety of the white travelers, the government issued an order requiring that the Sioux bands be required to stay on the Great Sioux Reservation. Crazy Horse and his followers ignored the order and the Army organized a campaign against them.

On the upper Rosebud Creek in southern Montana, General George Crook’s army of thirteen hundred attacked twelve hundred warriors led by Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse had over the years become a daring military strategist, adept in the art of decoying tactics. His feinting and assault techniques baffled Crook who withdrew. Crazy Horse now joined with Sitting Bull and Gall at the Bighorn River in Montana.

When Custer attacked on June 25, 1876 Crazy Horse led his warriors against Custer’s men from the north and west, while Gall charged Custer from the south and east. Custer’s force, including Custer himself was completely destroyed. After the battle the Sioux encampment split up with Sitting Bull heading to Canada and Crazy Horse and his followers traveling back to the Rosebud River. However, despite winning several battles, Crazy Horse band could not win the war. Intense harassment by the military and the loss of their food source, the buffalo, finally forced Crazy Horse and his followers to surrender on May 6, 1877 at Ft. Robinson in northwest Nebraska.

He was promised a reservation in the Powder River country. It did not happen. After a few months on Red Cloud’s reservation Crazy Horse left without permission to take his sick wife to her family at the Brule Agency about 40 miles away. On his way back forty government scouts arrested him. While being lead toward a stockade, Crazy Horse resisted at the sight of the prison. A soldier bayoneted him through the abdomen. He died the same night.

Crazy Horse was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1841, the son of the Oglala Sioux shaman also named Crazy Horse and his wife, a member of the Brule Sioux.

Crazy Horse had lighter complexion and hair than others in his tribe, with prodigious curls. Boys were traditionally not permanently named until they had an experience that earned them a name, so Crazy Horse was called “Curly Hair” and “Light-Haired Boy” as a child.

As an adolescent, Crazy Horse earned the name “His Horse Looking,” but he was more commonly known as “Curly” until 1858 when, following a battle with Arapaho warriors he was given his father’s name, while his father took the name Worm.

Crazy Horse’s Vision Quest

Crazy Horse was not a traditionalist with regard to his tribe’s customs, shrugging off many of the traditions and rituals that the Sioux practiced.

In 1854, Crazy Horse rode off into the prairies for a vision quest, purposefully ignoring the required rituals.

Fasting for two days, Crazy Horse had a vision of an unadorned horseman who directed him to present himself in the same way, with no more than one feather and never a war bonnet. He was also told to toss dust over his horse before entering battle and to place a stone behind his ear and directed to never take anything for himself.

Crazy Horse followed these instructions until his death.

General William Tecumseh Sherman

In 1866, the discovery of gold along the Bozeman Trail in Montana spurred General William Tecumseh Sherman to build a number of forts in Sioux territory.

Under the command of Captain William Fetterman, a troop clashed with Sioux and Cheyenne warriors after Crazy Horse acted as a decoy to lead the 80 white soldier to their death in an ambush. The soldiers’ bodies were hacked up to send a message to Sherman.

In 1867, Crazy Horse took part in an attack on a small fort. Shortly after, Sherman toured the Native prairie lands to meet with leaders and seek peace.

By 1868, soldiers were pulled out of the disputed forts and a treaty was signed that gave the native populations ownership of the Black Hills, areas west of Missouri and land in Wyoming. No whites would be allowed to enter that territory under threat of arrest.

Crazy Horse, however, eschewed the treaty signing, preferring to conduct raids on enemy tribes.

Black Buffalo Woman

Black Buffalo Woman was Crazy Horse’s first love. They met in 1857, but she married a man named No Water while Crazy Horse was on a raid.

Crazy Horse continued to pay her attention and in 1868 eloped with her while No Water was on a hunting party.

He and Black Buffalo Woman spent one night together before No Water took back his wife, shooting Crazy Horse in the nose and breaking his jaw.

Despite fears of violence between villages, the two men came to a truce. Crazy Horse insisted that Black Buffalo Woman shouldn’t be punished for fleeing and received a horse from No Water in compensation for the injury.

Crazy Horse eventually married Black Shawl, who died of tuberculosis, and later a half-Cheyenne, half-French woman named Nellie Larrabee.

Black Buffalo Woman’s fourth child, a girl, was a light-skinned baby suspected of being the result of her night with Crazy Horse.

General George Armstrong Custer

As the railroads expanded west, tensions rose between Native Americans and soldiers.

In 1872, Crazy Horse took part in a raid with Sitting Bull against 400 soldiers, where his horse was shot out beneath him after he made a reckless dash ahead to meet the U.S. Army.

In 1873 General George Armstrong Custer crossed into Sioux territory. Somewhere along the Yellowstone River, Crazy Horse encountered Custer for the first time, coming upon a contingent of napping soldiers. The Sioux attempted to steal their horses but failed, and Crazy Horse retreated after a scuffle.

Custer’s troops made their way into the Black Hills in search of gold, violating treaties while also ushering in civilian miners who outnumbered the Native population.

Battle of Rosebud

By 1876, large numbers of tribes gathered near the Little Big Horn River in Montana to join Sitting Bull.

General George Crook, who had recently raided a village that was wrongly claimed to be Crazy Horse’s, attempted an attack, but Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull led forces to push back Crook in what is called the Battle of Rosebud.

Battle of the Little Big Horn

One week later, General Custer entered into battle at Little Big Horn after refusing the advice of his Native guides, who assured him he would lose the confrontation.

One week later, General Custer entered into battle at Little Big Horn after refusing the advice of his Native guides, who assured him he would lose the confrontation.Crazy Horse led as many as 1,000 warriors to flank Custer’s forces and help seal the general’s disastrous defeat and death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.

Crazy Horse Surrenders

Crazy Horse traveled to Big Butte to harass white miners in the Black Hills, while the Sioux faced continued hostilities from General Crook during a harsh winter that decimated the tribe.

Sensing the tribe’s struggle for survival, Colonel Nelson A. Miles tried to strike a deal with Crazy Horse, promising to help the Sioux and treat them fairly.

When Crazy Horse sent emissaries to discuss the deal, soldiers shot and killed several and Crazy Horse fled. Miles repeatedly attacked Crazy Horse’s encampment until winter weather prevented action.

Incapacitated by the winter, Crazy Horse negotiated with Lieutenant Philo Clark, who offered the starving Sioux their own reservation in exchange their surrender. Crazy Horse agreed.

Crazy Horse’s Arrest

During negotiations, Crazy Horse found trouble with both the Army and his fellow tribesmen. Clark tried to convince him to go to Washington, but Crazy Horse refused, furthering the Army’s belief that Crazy Horse was too unreliable for negotiation.

Some of the Sioux were agitating with others following a rumor that Crazy Horse had found favor with white people, who planned to install him as leader of all the Sioux.

Tensions rose as the Army sought Crazy Horse’s help in their conflict against the Nez Perce natives. During these meetings, an interpreter claimed Crazy Horse had promised he would not stop fighting until all white men were killed, though Crazy Horse had not said that.

Some Sioux warriors signed on with the Army to fight the Nez Perce warriors. Disgusted, Crazy Horse threatened to leave negotiations and was soon after arrested.

Crazy Horse Death

Returning to camp the next day, Crazy Horse requested to talk to military leaders, but was led to a cell instead.

Realizing the betrayal, Crazy Horse struggled. An old friend, Little Big Man, worked for the Army as a policeman and attempted to restrain Crazy Horse, who pulled a concealed knife on him.

Trying to prevent Crazy Horse from stabbing Little Big Man, a soldier shoved a bayonet into Crazy Horse’s abdomen, piercing his kidneys. Crazy Horse collapsed and was moved to an office, where he refused a cot. Only his father was allowed to visit.

Crazy Horse died at some point later on the night of September 6, 1877, at the age of 35, lying on the bare floor in Fort Robinson, Nebraska. His body was taken away by Sioux and buried at an unknown location near a creek called Wounded Knee.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Cray Horse is remembered for his courage, leadership and his tenacity of spirit in the face of near-impossible odds.

His legacy is celebrated in the Crazy Horse Memorial, an uncompleted monumental sculpture located in the Black Hills, not far from Mount Rushmore. Started in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziółkowski (who also worked on Mount Rushmore), the Crazy Horse Memorial would be the largest sculpture in the world when completed.

Operated by the nonprofit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, the sculpture grounds are open to the public and reportedly receive more than one million visitors each year.


Brulé Sioux Chief Spotted Tail

Destined for greatness and an early death, Spotted Tail, the great chief of the Brulé Sioux, was born in 1823 on the White River in South Dakota. His sister was the mother of Crazy Horse, and he was a first cousin to Conquering Bear, the man named by the U.S. government as the chief of the tribe at Fort Laramie in 1851. Spotted Tail was not a hereditary chief but received recognition based on his ability and character.

The Sioux spelling of Spotted Tail’s name is Sinte-Galeska. In 1942 his grandson, Stephen, told the story of how he got this unusual name: ‘In early days he was hunting…along some River and he met some white men trappers. One of this man was skinning a raccoon and this man showed him the coon’s tail which had black rings around the tail and he named him after this and called him `Spotted Tail.’ The warrior incorporated the trophy into his war headdress, wearing it in his first battles. Spotted Tail showed martial prowess as a teenager. By the time he was 30, he was an honored Shirtwearer, his war garment decorated with more than 100 locks of hair from enemy scalps.

As a young warrior, Spotted Tail played an important part in the first sizable battle between the Lakotas and the U.S. Army on August 19, 1854. The skirmish occurred when a hot-blooded young lieutenant, John L. Grattan, along with an intoxicated interpreter and 29 infantrymen, attempted to arrest a visiting Minneconjou in the Brulé camp eight miles east of Fort Laramie. A lame ox (sometimes referred to as a cow) from a Mormon wagon train had been killed by the Minneconjou warrior. Grattan marched to the Indian camp to arrest the offender but instead precipitated a fight in which he and all of his men died. Spotted Tail organized and led the assault on the flank and rear that created panic among the troops and facilitated their demise.


Library of Congress

Following the so-called Grattan Fight, Conquering Bear’s brother, Red Leaf, planned a raid of vengeance. With him went his two brothers, his half brother Long Chin and his cousin Spotted Tail. Near Horse Creek on November 13, the war party attacked the westbound mail wagon headed for Salt Lake City, killing three whites, destroying the mail and taking $20,000 in gold.

In the meantime, the War Department had begun preparations to whip the Sioux, naming veteran William S. Harney as commander of the punitive expedition. In September 1855, Brevet Brig. Gen. William Harney and 600 troops caught 250 Brulés in camp on Blue Water Creek in Nebraska, killing 86 and taking 70 prisoners, including Spotted Tail’s wife and baby daughter. Gallantly fighting side by side with Iron Shell, the second-in-command, the young warrior earned the lasting admiration of his people. While severely wounded from two shots through the body, he was able to escape after dispatching a number of Harney’s dragoons and stealing a horse.

Harney let it be known that there would be no peace until those who had killed the whites near Horse Creek were in custody. On October 18, 1855, Spotted Tail and the four others in the war party surrendered at Fort Laramie to prevent further response. Expecting to be executed, they were surprised to be sent to Fort Leavenworth. Later they moved to Fort Kearny and gained their freedom in September 1856. While imprisoned, Spotted Tail learned to read and write English, acquiring useful skills in dealing with whites when he became chief. His incarceration was also important in another way. It permitted him to observe the overwhelming power of the whites in numbers and technology, and brought the realization that, in order to survive, diplomacy had to take precedence over armed conflict whenever possible. Spotted Tail returned a hero, for he had offered himself in sacrifice for his people.

During the next few years, from 1856 to 1863, the Brulés kept to themselves in their lands in southwestern Nebraska and northwestern Kansas, hunting game and fighting Pawnees. During this time, Spotted Tail began to assume more responsibility, becoming Chief Little Thunder’s trusted lieutenant. Peaceful times for the Brulés came to an end on November 29, 1864, when Colonel John M. Chivington led the 3rd Colorado Cavalry in a savage attack on a Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho village at Sand Creek, in west-central Colorado. Riding at dawn with orders to take no prisoners, the troops caught the Indians unprepared. The carnage that followed shocked even some of the most hardened Indian-haters. When the fighting ended, at least 130 Indians were dead, the majority of them women. About 15 soldiers died. When news of the butchery reached the East, condemnation followed, and officials held several investigations. Chivington escaped recrimination by resigning his commission.

The survivors met in camp on the Smoky Hill River and planned vengeance. Couriers carried war messages to associated bands and allies, among them the southern Brulés and Oglalas. While Spotted Tail did not want to make enemies of the whites, he accepted his responsibility as a war chief to lead his tribesmen into battle.

The avengers’ first target was Julesburg, Colorado Territory, a stagecoach stop and important crossing of the Platte River. With Spotted Tail in the lead, the warriors attacked in full force on January 7, 1865, killing four noncommissioned officers and 11 enlisted men of the 7th Iowa Volunteer Cavalry stationed at nearby Fort Rankin. Returning on February 2, the raiders burned the town, keeping the 7th Iowa troops contained in their post. Troops from Fort Laramie rushed to the rescue. They engaged the war party in western Nebraska Territory at Mud Springs on February 4-6 and Rush Creek on February 9. While the fights were inconclusive, the soldiers withdrew, realizing that they were overwhelmingly outnumbered. At this point, Spotted Tail and his warriors decided they had had enough of war, and they eventually ended up at Fort Laramie. The rest of the coalition kept fighting all summer.

Early in June, military leaders turned their attention to the friendly Sioux bands that had been camped near Fort Laramie, which now included Spotted Tail and the southern Brulés. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton decided to send them farther east to Fort Kearny, where they would be out of the firing line, and they could put in a crop to provide for their support until the Indian Bureau assumed responsibility. The large party of about 1,500 left on June 11, with an escort of some 200 7th Iowa Cavalry and Indian police commanded by Captain William Fouts. The group spent the night of June 13 camped on Horse Creek. At a secret meeting, most of the chiefs and headmen decided that they would rather die than go to Fort Kearny to starve and be near their Pawnee enemies. The next morning, the Sioux turned on Fouts and his men, killing the captain and fleeing north. Spotted Tail and his followers kept far away from the whites during the next months.


Library of Congress

During the harsh winter that followed, Spotted Tail lost his favorite daughter. It was her wish that her burial be at Fort Laramie. Some said that she had fallen in love, at least from a distance, with an 11th Ohio officer stationed there. When Spotted Tail made the request to Colonel Henry Maynadier, the officer assented, arranging for an elaborate funeral. The Brulés arrived at Fort Laramie on March 8. Post sutler John Collins described the scene: [The daughter’s body] had been placed in a plain box covered with Indian cloth. The box was set up on four posts, near sand bluffs, west of the garrison. On the head end the head of her favorite pony was nailed and its tail was nailed on the other end to `travel with her to the Happy Hunting Ground.’ In the box were placed the trinkets and ornaments she wore when alive. Greatly touched by the ceremony, Spotted Tail never again took up arms against the United States.

Later that year, in the Powder River country of what would soon be Wyoming Territory, Red Cloud and his coalition of Oglalas, Minneconjous, Sans Arc, some Hunkpapas and Northern Cheyennes waged war against whites who had blazed a trail along the east side of the Bighorn Mountains, intruding upon the last best hunting grounds of the western Sioux. Warriors virtually made prisoners of the men in the three forts protecting the Bozeman Trail, and by 1868 the time was right for treaty making. The U.S. government agreed to abandon the trail, and the Sioux agreed to take up reservations in the western half of Dakota Territory. The peace commissioners also dealt with associated bands, appointing Spotted Tail the chief of all the Brulés.

Late in the summer of 1868, Spotted Tail’s group moved to an area on Whetstone Creek near the Missouri River. Displeased with the site, the chief decided to live at a point more than 30 miles from the agency. This marked the beginning of Spotted Tail’s dealings with the Indian agent and the Office of Indian Affairs. His reign was stormy to say the least, trying as he did to balance the needs of the people against the desires of the government and the countervailing ambitions of others in his tribe to assume his position. In 1869 he killed Big Mouth, a leader of one faction of the Oglalas, after the latter attempted to shoot him. At the same time, he resisted efforts to make Indians into farmers and succeeded in getting his people to a location on the Beaver Creek on the south bank of the White River.

In 1874 Lt. Col. George Custer’s exploratory expedition into the Black Hills confirmed the presence of gold, establishing a rationale for the acquisition of some of the Sioux’s new lands. On May 26, 1875, Spotted Tail, Red Cloud and other headmen met with President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House, where he urged the Indian leaders to agree to sell the Black Hills and threatened to starve them if they did not. Ultimately, government representatives rejected a demand by the Sioux for $60 million. In the so-called Great Sioux War that followed in 1876-77, Spotted Tail kept his people under control. He became involved in the negotiation that led to the sale of the Black Hills, became chief of both the Brulés and Oglalas when Red Cloud fell out of favor with Brig. Gen. George Crook (Spotted Tail, to his credit, never actually tried to lead Red Cloud’s Oglalas) and helped to engineer the surrender of Crazy Horse.

The death of Crazy Horse on September 5, 1877, as the result of an attempt to imprison him at Fort Robinson, caused some tribesmen to swear vengeance against Spotted Tail for getting him to surrender in the first place. On August 5, 1881, Crow Dog, one of Crazy Horse’s relatives, met Spotted Tail on the road and shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. Some said the real reason was a dispute over a woman, others over property. In the trial that followed, a jury found Crow Dog guilty of murder and sentenced him to be hanged. A successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ex Parte Crow Dog (1883), determined that the federal government did not have jurisdiction over crimes involving Indians on Indian land, and he gained his freedom.

William Philo Clark, the officer who captained the Indian scouts for General Crook, wrote that Spotted Tail was by far the ablest Indian he had ever known. There is no doubt that Spotted Tail was extraordinary. A courageous and skillful warrior, he became a wise and resourceful chief. He skillfully avoided the first attempts of the government to remake Indians according to white beliefs and practices. He promoted education, seeing it as a tool in preserving Sioux culture and tradition. Thus, it is fitting that a tribal university established on the Rosebud Reservation in 1971 bears his name. Unlike Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, he used diplomatic skills that largely avoided conflict. When cornered he fought, but when possible he talked. A contemplative man of action, he led his people well. Spotted Tail is buried in the Rosebud Cemetery just north of Rosebud, S.D.

This article was written by John D. McDermot and originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Wild West.

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Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse or Tasunke Witco was born as a member of the Oglala Lakota on Rapid Creek about 40 miles northeast of Thunderhead Mt. (now Crazy Horse Mountain) in c. 1840. It was a time when cultures clashed, and land became an issue of deadly contention and traditional Native ways were threatened and oppressed. Crazy Horse responded by putting the needs of his people above his own, which would forever embed him and his legacy in American History. He was killed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, by a soldier around midnight on September 5, 1877.

Crazy Horse Memorial Flag

The son of a medicine man, Crazy Horse spent the early years of his life raised by the women of his tiospaye or family. Once Crazy Horse was old enough he set out on one of the most important rites of passage to a Lakota warrior&hellipthe Vision Quest (Hanbleceya &ndash "crying for a vision&rdquo or "to pray for a spiritual experience"). This rite of passage gave Crazy Horse guidance on his path in life. He went alone into the hills for four days without food or water and cried for a dream to the great spirits.

By the time Crazy Horse was in his mid-teens he was already a full-fledged warrior. His bravery and prowess in battle were well-known by the Lakota people. He rode into battle with a single hawk feather in his hair, a rock behind his ear, and a lightning symbol on his face. The symbols and rituals that went into preparing for war provided the warrior power and protection.

In 1876, Crazy Horse led a band of Lakota warriors against Custer&rsquos Seventh U.S. Cavalry battalion. They called this the Battle of the Little Bighorn also known as Custer&rsquos Last Stand and the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Custer, 9 officers, and 280 enlisted men, all lay dead after the fighting was over. According to tribes who participated in the battle, 32 Indians were killed. Without Crazy Horse and his followers the battle&rsquos outcome would have been much different as he was integral in stopping reinforcements from arriving.

1948 Standing Bear Korczak Mickelson survivors

It was after the Battle of the Little Bighorn that the United States Government would send scouts to round up any Northern Plains tribes who resisted. This forced many Indian Nations to move across the country, always followed by soldiers, until starvation or exposure would force them to surrender. This is how Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota were forced into submission.

In 1877, under a flag of truce, Crazy Horse went to Fort Robinson. Negotiations with U.S. Military leaders stationed at the Fort broke down. Eyewitnesses blame the breakdown in negotiations on the translator who incorrectly translated what Crazy Horse said. Crazy Horse was quickly escorted toward the jail. Once he realized that the commanding officers were planning on imprisoning him, he struggled and drew his knife. Little Big Man, friend and fellow warrior of Crazy Horse, tried to restrain him. As Crazy Horse continued to free himself, an infantry guard made a successful lunge with a bayonet and mortally wounded the great warrior. Crazy Horse died shortly after the mortal wound was inflicted. There are different accounts putting the date of his death around midnight September 5, 1877.

It is a well-known fact that Crazy Horse refused to have his picture or likeness taken. Crazy Horse lived under the assumption that by taking a picture a part of his soul would be taken and his life would be shortened. The popular response to photograph requests would be, &ldquoWould you imprison my shadow too?&rdquo The likeness that Korczak created for Crazy Horse Memorial® was developed by descriptions from survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn and other contemporaries of Crazy Horse the man.

Wooden bust of Crazy Horse's likeness

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski decided to create a monument that captured Crazy Horse&rsquos likeness based on the descriptions provided to honor the principles and values for which Native Americans stood and to honor all the indigenous people of North America. With Crazy Horse riding his steed out of the granite of the sacred Black Hills with his left hand gesturing forward in response to the derisive question asked by a Cavalry man, &ldquoWhere are your lands now?&rdquo Crazy Horse replied, &ldquoMy lands are where my dead lie buried.&rdquo


Crazy Horse c. 1842-1877

Crazy Horse (a translation of his Lakotan name, Tasunke Witko) achieved notoriety while he was alive for his skill as a military leader and his defiant attempt to resist Westernizing influences. Since his death, his actions have taken on further meaning, and he is highly regarded as a symbol of Lakota resistance, oftentimes considered wakan (spiritually powerful), and he continues to be emblematic of a traditional past.

Crazy Horse was born in 1841 or 1842 near the Black Hills (South Dakota). He apparently had yellow-brown hair and was initially called Light Hair and Curly. His father was a medicine man but less is known about his mother, who died young his father later remarried. He was reportedly good with horses, and this garnered him the name His Horses Looking. His interest in a married woman, Black Buffalo Woman, led to a shooting that left Crazy Horse with a scar. Later, he married Black Shawl and they had a daughter, They Are Afraid of Her, who died at age 2. In 1877 he also married Nellie Laravie, an 18-year-old mixed-blood woman.

His father and grandfather both were named Crazy Horse, and he himself finally earned this name in his teen years. Around this time, Crazy Horse had a vision that involved a horseman who is plainly dressed and riding untouched through a storm. Crazy Horse himself began to dress plainly, with a red-tailed hawk feather, and it was assumed that he and his horse were invulnerable. There are also reports that he would throw dust over his horse before battle and that he wore a small stone, or wotawe (sacred charm), for protection. He was a quiet and introspective man who seldom joined in public events.

In an effort to resolve the conflicts following from Western expansion, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agreed to settle at agencies, camps associated with government Indian agents that later became reservations, with the signing of the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty. Crazy Horse alone resolved to stay on his own lands in the Black Hills, until several events led to his surrender. Gold was discovered in the Black Hills and battles commenced against those who resisted the order to reservation land. Crazy Horse fought his best in the last two great battles, Rosebud and Little Bighorn. On June 17, 1876, assaults forced Brigadier General George Crook ’ s troops to retreat at the Battle of the Rosebud. Days later (June 25), Crazy Horse and others led the victory against Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

These victories led to increased military pressure and famine. Supplies and morale diminished at Crazy Horse ’ s camp with the dwindling of buffalo, restricted trade, and a cold winter. Given the promise of an agency in the northern country, Crazy Horse led 889 followers to Fort Robinson in May 1877, but the promised agency fell through, and Crazy Horse was given a campsite near Red Cloud ’ s agency close to the White River (Nebraska). There was concern on the part of those trying to maintain stable relations — both Indian agents and Lakota leaders — that Crazy Horse would continue to hunt, given his refusal of rations, and that he would weaken the elders ’ efforts to maintain peace at the agency. Also, there might have been concern from the Lakota leaders of Red Cloud ’ s and Spotted Tail ’ s agencies that Crazy Horse was gaining too much favor from the Indian agents and unsettling the status of existing agencies.

After four months in the camps, General Crook issued an order for Crazy Horse ’ s arrest. Crazy Horse at first assumed he was going to a council meeting, but resisted when he realized he might be imprisoned. It seems that his ally Little Big Man restrained him, either to placate him, in order to protect himself from Crazy Horse ’ s knife, or to serve questionable political interests. A low-ranking cavalry soldier named William Gentiles is credited with stabbing Crazy Horse with a bayonet, intentionally or not. Crazy Horse died September 5, 1877, at Fort Robinson, and his father buried his son at an undisclosed site with the agreement of those in attendance that they smoke a pipe and pledge not to reveal its location.


Crazy Horse vs Custer: The Battle of Rosebud Creek

Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witco, Tashunca-Uitco, “His horse is crazy”) was born about 1842 on the eastern edge of the Black Hills near the site of present- day Rapid City, Sioux Dakota. His mother was a member of the Brulé band, reportedly the sister of Spotted Tail, and his father an Oglala medicine man. Crazy Horse’s mother died when he was quite young, and his father took her sister as a wife and raised the child in both Brulé and Oglala camps.

Alleged photo of Crazy Horse in 1877. By Unknown – Original uploader was Felix c at en.wikipedia transfer was stated to be made by User:Telrúnya. 23 August 2007 (original upload date). Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

Curly, as he was then called due to his light, curly hair and fair complexion, killed a buffalo when he was twelve and received a horse for his accomplishment. At about that time while residing in Conquering Bear’s camp, he witnessed the 1854 Gratten affair—where an army lieutenant named John L. Gratten and his twenty-nine men were slaughtered after a Sioux warrior had killed a stray Mormon ox and Gratten went to arrest him for the alleged crime. Curly also had viewed the destruction of the Indian village at Ash Hollow caused by General William Harney’s punitive expedition in response. Those experiences made an indelible impression on Curly and helped shape his militancy toward the white man.

Not long after the Gratten massacre, Curly sought guidance and underwent a Vision Quest by meditating on a mountaintop. He experienced a vivid dream depicting a mounted warrior in a storm who became invulnerable by following certain rituals, such as wearing long, unbraided hair, painting his body with white hail spots, tying a small stone behind each ear, and decorating his cheek with a zigzag lightning bolt. Curly’s father interpreted the dream as a sign of his son’s future greatness in combat.

The following year, Curly was said to have killed his first human. Curly was in the company of a small band of Sioux warriors who were attempting to steal Pawnee horses when they happened upon some Osage buffalo hunters. In the midst of a fight, he spotted an Osage in the bushes and killed this person, who, to his surprise, turned out to be a woman. It was not shameful in Sioux culture to kill a woman, but he was so upset that he refused to take her scalp and left it for someone else.

Curly proved his worth as a warrior when he was sixteen years old during a battle with Arapaho. Decorated like the warrior in his dream, he was in the thick of the fighting, scoring coup after coup, taking many scalps, but, to his dismay, was struck by an arrow in the leg. Curly wondered why he had been wounded when the rituals he had imitated from the warrior on his Vision Quest promised protection. He finally realized that his dream warrior had taken no scalps and he had. From that day forward, Curly would never again scalp an enemy.

He received a great tribute after that battle. His father sang a song that he had composed for his son and announced that the boy would now be known by a new name— Crazy Horse. Incidentally, that name was nothing special, rather an old, common name among the Sioux tribes.

Throughout the ensuing years, Crazy Horse had built a reputation among his people as a crafty, fearless warrior. He participated in many successful raids against traditional Indian enemies and the occasional small party of whites traveling through Sioux country but had not yet faced the might of the United States Army. In 1865, that would dramatically change when an endless stream of whites—gold seekers headed for Montana—flooded the Bozeman Trail and the army garrisoned several forts to protect them.

In 1866–67 during what became known as Red Cloud’s War, Crazy Horse was instrumental in rallying his fellow warriors and displaying an almost mythical courage and tactical craftiness. Due to Red Cloud’s leadership and the efforts of Crazy Horse, Hump, Gall, and Rain-in-the-Face the army finally admitted defeat and negotiated a treaty to end hostilities.

Crazy Horse, however, refused to “touch the pen” to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, disdained the reservation, and chose instead to freely roam traditional Sioux hunting grounds and wage war against the Crow and Shoshoni. It was said that during this time of wandering he married a Northern Cheyenne woman, which gained him friends and followers from that tribe. His interest in a certain Lakota Sioux woman, however, would nearly cost him his life.

Crazy Horse, who had gained the reputation of being introverted and eccentric, had ten years earlier vigorously courted Black Buffalo Woman, Red Cloud’s niece. At that time, however, she had spurned Crazy Horse in favor of a warrior named No Water. Gossip spread that Crazy Horse had continued to visit Black Buffalo Woman when her husband was away. In 1871, Crazy Horse convinced her to run away with him. No Water was incensed and set out on the trail, finally finding the couple together in a tepee. He shot Crazy Horse, the bullet entering at the nostril, fracturing his jaw, and nearly killing him. Crazy Horse gradually recovered from this serious wound. Black Buffalo Woman returned to No Water but some months later gave birth to a sandy-haired child who suspiciously resembled Crazy Horse. The Sioux warrior licked his romantic wounds and in the summer of 1872 married Black Shawl, who would bear him a daughter, They-Are-Afraid-of-Her.

The military had been encroaching on Sioux buffalo-hunting grounds for some time, and when George Armstrong Custer’s Yellowstone Expedition of 1873 served as escort for the Northern Pacific Railroad survey crews it has been said that Crazy Horse may have participated in the violent opposition.

Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer, US Army, 1865. By Civil War glass negative collection (Library of Congress) – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cwpbh.03216.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information. Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

The discovery of gold during Custer’s Black Hills Expedition the following year brought hordes of miners into that sacred Sioux region that had been promised them by the provisions of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Negotiations by the United States government to buy the land angered Crazy Horse and other free-roaming Sioux. The bodies of many miners—not scalped, which was Crazy Horse’s custom—began turning up in the Black Hills. Although no direct evidence exists, it has been widely speculated, even by his own people, that Crazy Horse was the one behind these brutal acts.

Another incident occurred about this time that had a profound effect on Crazy Horse. He was out fighting Crow Indians when his daughter died of cholera. The village had moved about seventy miles from the location of the burial scaffold on which lay They-Are-Afraid-of-Her. Crazy Horse tracked down the site and lay for three days beside his daughter’s body.

The United States government had issued the edict that all Indians in the vicinity of the Yellowstone River Valley report to the reservation by January 31, 1876, or face severe military reprisals. Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and others, however, ignored the demand and remained free.
Now, in the middle of the night and in the midst of a raging snowstorm Crazy Horse had come to the rescue of his people on the Powder River, recapturing the pony herd and salvaging whatever he could of the village.

General George Crook was furious with Colonel Reynolds for not holding the village. When the command returned to Fort Fetterman on March 26, Crook filed court-martial charges against Reynolds, who was subsequently found guilty of neglect of duty. Reynolds was punished with a one-year suspension from duty, which was eventually commuted by his former West Point classmate, President U. S. Grant. Reynolds, however, would be quietly retired on disability the following year.

On May 29, Crook, with a column consisting of fifteen companies of cavalry and five of infantry—more than one thousand men—once again departed from Fort Fetterman as a part of General Alfred H. Terry’s three-pronged approach designed to close in around the hostile Indians. Crook reached the head of the Tongue River near the Wyoming-Montana border on June 9 and established a base camp on Goose Creek while waiting for about 260 Shoshoni and Crow who wanted to take part in the campaign against their traditional enemies.

At about this time, the Sioux held a Sun Dance on the Rosebud. The highlight of this gathering was the revelation that revered medicine man Sitting Bull had experienced a sacred vision that would change history for the Lakota Sioux tribe and their allies.

Sitting Bull (Tatanka Yotanka, “a Large Bull Buffalo at Rest”) was born about 1830 at a supply site called Many Caches along the Grand River, near present-day Bullhead, South Dakota. He was the son of a chief named either Four Horn or Sitting Bull, and his boyhood name was “Slow” or “Jumping Badger.” At age ten he killed his first buffalo, and four years later he counted coup on an enemy Crow, an act that prompted his father to change the boy’s name to Sitting Bull. Also at about that time, he went on a Vision Quest and was accepted into the Strong Hearts warrior society. Sitting Bull proved himself a fierce warrior, gaining the utmost respect of his peers for his daring exploits, especially after he sustained a wound in battle with the Crow that forced him to limp for the rest of his life. He assumed leadership of the Strong Hearts at age twenty-two.

Sitting Bull subsequently led raiding parties of his warriors against traditional Sioux enemies, such as the Crow, Blackfeet, Shoshoni, and Arapaho. He eventually became known as someone special, a warrior whose medicine was good, and became a Wichasha Wakan—a man of mystery, or medicine man. He also became legendary for practicing the Sash Dance, where in the face of the enemy he pinned himself to the ground to indicate that he would never retreat.

Sitting Bull, who did not “touch the pen” to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, avoided any confrontation with the United States Army until the early 1860s when General Alfred Sully encroached on Hunkpapa territory in the Dakotas while pursuing Santee Sioux fugitives. He carried out hit-and-run raids on small army detachments and led his Strong Hearts at the July 28, 1864, Battle of Killdeer Mountain.

During Red Cloud’s War, Sitting Bull’s band roamed farther north, where he led attacks in northern Montana and Dakota Territory, particularly in the vicinity of newly constructed Fort Buford at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Many Sioux gave up their freedom and moved onto the reservation when Red Cloud negotiated the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

Sitting Bull refused to submit and continued to follow the traditional nomadic lifestyle of his people. He and his band, however, would occasionally visit the reservation to obtain supplies and spread discontent among their brethren. His warriors were said to have been the Sioux who aggressively protested the presence of the army during Custer’s Yellowstone Expedition of 1873.

When Custer marched through the Black Hills the following year, Sitting Bull considered this intrusion and that of the prospectors who later came to dig for gold to be tantamount to a declaration of war. He assumed the position as head of the war council and gathered around him allies from the Northern Cheyenne and a few other tribes.

In his mind, war had been declared by the United States government when an edict was issued requiring all Indians in the Yellowstone Valley to report to the reservation by January 31, 1876, or face the consequences. This defiant spiritual leader had no intention of obeying the order.

It was during early June 1876 while camped in the Rosebud River Valley that Sitting Bull’s people held a Sun Dance. Sitting Bull did not personally participate in this ritual where warriors would have strips of rawhide attached to a stick and inserted into their chests, then dangle in the air from a center pole. Instead, he directed his adopted brother to slice strips of flesh from his arms and then commenced dancing until he passed out. When Sitting Bull was revived, he told of a vision that he had experienced: dead soldiers falling from the sky into their camp. This vision was interpreted to mean that they would be victorious in battle against their enemy.

The Battle of Rosebud. The position of the opposing forces at the end of the battle as the Indians withdrew. By Charles D. Collins, Jr. – Atlas of the Sioux Wars, 2nd Edition page 61 – published by Combat Studies Institute PressFort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027October 2006. Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

The first opportunity to verify this vision came in mid-June when General George Crook’s troops were observed approaching on a route that would take them directly into a Sioux village.

Unknown to Crook, his presence was being closely monitored by Cheyenne scouts led by Wooden Leg. When Crook broke camp on June 16, those scouts determined that the army was following a trail that would lead them directly to Sitting Bull’s village, located a few miles north of present-day Busby, Montana. The Indians, concerned about the well-being of their families, held a council and decided that they would not wait for the army Crazy Horse with as many as one thousand Sioux and Cheyenne warriors would attack Crook’s column.

On June 17, Crook called a halt at mid-morning for coffee and to graze the horses in a valley of the Rosebud short of Big Bend. This cul-de-sac-shaped valley with steep walls was made up of broken terrain dotted with trees, bushes, ridges, and rock formations. It was sometime between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. when Crow scouts raced into this camp from the north to spread the alarm that they had spotted a large body of hostile Indians.

Crook, however, would not be afforded the opportunity to assemble his troops in a battle formation or employ effective military tactics. Crazy Horse had departed from his customary tactic of circling around his prey from a distance and instead immediately followed the Crow scouts over the hills to lead his warriors on a charge into the surprised cavalrymen.

Due to the terrain, the fighting was reduced to small, hastily organized units engaging the determined warriors—at times hand-to-hand—at various locations around the three-mile-long field of battle. The Indians would hit-and-run, riding in and out among the troops, who would attempt to hold their positions against each onslaught.

Sitting Bull, unknown date. Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

As the battle ensued, Crook decided that the best defense was an offense. In an effort to divert the warriors, he ordered that a detachment led by Captain Anson Mills ride downstream and attack the Indian village that he incorrectly presumed was just a few miles away. Mills, with the promise that Crook would be following with the main column, rode down the valley, which as he progressed became narrower. He correctly assumed that Crazy Horse, the master of the decoy, had deployed warriors in ambush, and proceeded with caution. Mills eventually turned back from his harrowing ride, either of his own accord or perhaps with recall orders from Crook, and thereby escaped disaster.

The fierce battle had raged for perhaps as long as six hours or until mid- afternoon when the Indians began massing for one final concentrated attack. Crook, however, recognized the strategy and ordered Mills to maneuver his cavalry behind the Indians. Crook’s tactic was successful—his enemy broke contact and left the field to the cavalrymen, effectively ending the battle. The Indians later claimed that the reason they had fled at that point in time was because they were low on ammunition and their horses were worn out.

Crook proclaimed victory because his troops held the field at the end, but he had in truth fought to a stalemate at best. His fate might have been even worse had not the Shoshoni and Crow saved the day on more than one occasion with bold feats of bravery. The army’s casualty figures have become a matter of controversy. Crook’s official report stated that he suffered ten killed and twenty-one wounded. Scout Frank Grouard’s estimate of twenty-eight killed and fifty-six wounded would probably be closer to the truth. Crazy Horse later acknowledged that he had lost thirty-six killed and sixty-three wounded.

Rather than resume his pursuit of the hostiles, Crook chose to countermarch and return to his camp on Goose Creek to lick his wounds. Without notifying the other columns with whom he was expected to rendezvous in the Valley of the Little Bighorn, Crook had of his own accord taken his command out of action. Had he aggressively followed the fresh Indian trail, Crook would have likely arrived at Sitting Bull’s village on the Little Bighorn either before Custer’s Seventh Cavalry or in coordination with the other two columns, which had been the intention of General Terry’s plan.

Crook’s battalion would have the distinction of letting and shedding the first blood of the Little Bighorn Campaign. It would not be the only cavalry blood that would stain the ground in Powder River country.

THOM HATCH is the author of The Last Days of George Armstrong Custer: The True Story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn and nine previous books, including Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer and The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George Armstrong Custer and the Plains Indians Wars. A Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and a historian who specializes in the American West, the Civil War, and Native American conflicts, Hatch has received the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for his previous work. He lives in Colorado.


"The Killing of Crazy Horse" by Thomas Powers

"The half-Sioux interpreter William Garnett, who died a dozen years before I was born, first set me to wondering why Crazy Horse was killed. He made it seem so unnecessary," writes Thomas Powers at the beginning of his compelling new book about the life and death of the legendary chief.

Unnecessary, but inevitable. The tiny guardhouse at Camp Robinson, Nebraska, to which Crazy Horse was brought on September 5, 1877, was too small to contain the proud man who wanted his freedom and the throng of vengeful soldiers and rival Indians who wished him dead or at least far away. In truth, the entire American frontier wasn't big enough. If Crazy Horse's fate wasn't sealed by the U.S. government's desire to renege on the Treaty of 1868 and take Black Hills land expressly granted to the Indians, it was after the chief and his warriors annihilated George Armstrong Custer and his troops at Little Bighorn in June of 1876.

"Very often the excavation of an event can reveal the whole of an era. But I confess it was wanting to know why Crazy Horse was killed, not the abstract lessons drawn from his fate, that drew me on," explains Powers, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for reporting and the author of several books on military intelligence and war. "It's my working theory that pinning down what happened is always the first step to understanding why it happened." Surprisingly, for over 130 years, "the event itself remained obscure, muffled, sketchily recorded."

No longer. "The Killing of Crazy Horse" is a skillfully written, meticulously researched book that covers far more than the chief's final days and hours. It begins not in Nebraska in late summer 1877, but in Wyoming in early winter 1866. There, Crazy Horse and others cleverly lured eighty soldiers from Fort Phil Kearney into an ambush that none survived. Up to this point, the Oglala Sioux warrior born in about 1838 had established a reputation in the Indian world, but was not well known to the U.S. Military.

Powers does not fast-forward the story from 1866 to Little Bighorn ten years later. Instead he provides a richly detailed account of Sioux life on the northern plains - from hunting to communing with the spirits to battling with enemy tribes as well as the soldiers who sought to deny them their land and way of life, particularly after gold was found in the Black Hills. During this period, Crazy Horse, a quiet man who let his deeds speak, distinguished himself in battle, but also rankled some powerful tribal leaders by, for example, taking another man's wife.

Numerous histories recount how Crazy Horse's Sioux along with the Cheyenne and Arapaho wiped out the U.S. Army's Seventh Cavalry Brigade at Little Bighorn in the most famous battle of the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, killing over 260 soldiers and scouts. Powers holds his own with these works, vividly describing Crazy Horse's solo charge, or "brave run," that triggered the first of the Indian assaults on the soldiers. According to his comrade Red Feather, Crazy Horse rode down between the lengths of the two lines of fighters blowing his eagle-bone whistle. Said Waterman, another warrior, "Crazy Horse was the bravest man I ever saw. He rode closest to the soldiers, yelling to his warriors. All the soldiers were shooting at him, but he was never hit."

The battlefield tactics of each side were as diametrically opposed as their cultures, says Powers. "Soldiers always tried to keep an enemy at bay, to kill him at a distance. The instinct of Sioux fighters was for exactly the opposite: to charge in and touch the enemy with a quirt, bow, or naked hand while he was still alive. There is no terror in battle to equal physical contact - shouting, hot breath, the grip of a hand from a man close enough to smell."

Even more powerful than this blow by blow account of the battle is the story of an expedition to Little Bighorn a year later led by two generals responsible for carrying out the U.S. government's Indian policy, Philip Sheridan and George Crook. "Bourke (one of the soldiers) spotted government issue cavalry boots strewn upon the ground. The uppers from ankle to calf had been cut away by Indians scavenging the field. The lowers, Bourke noted with horror, revealed the human feet and bones still sticking in them."

Custer's ill-fated raid on the Sioux encampment remains the signature battle of the Great Sioux War. When the Indians refused to return land granted to them under a previously negotiated treaty, the Grant administration decided to take any means necessary to gain the territory. Outnumbered and weary of fighting, many Indians surrendered by the spring of 1877. They were shipped to Indian Territory.

Crazy Horse and his band surrendered on May 5, but his surrender was not unconditional. To the dismay of U.S. officials and some chiefs who resented his stature, he balked at going to Washington to meet the Great White Father and negotiate. He also demanded that he be allowed to settle in an area that was to be off limits to the Indians.

Throughout the summer of 1877, rumors swirled that he was going to leave his home and in all likelihood create havoc. When Indians reported that Crazy Horse intended to kill General Crook, the military and some Indians hatched a plot to kill him first. Eventually that report was discounted. After receiving certain promises from the military, Crazy Horse agreed to come into Camp Robinson.

Once he arrived, a familiar refrain was played. The government broke its promises to him and sought to jail him. Surrounded by those who wished him no good, Crazy Horse made one last stand. In the chaos he was stabbed by a soldier's bayonet. He died hours later. Again, Powers does a masterful job of piecing together the story from numerous accounts.

Why did Crazy Horse die? Powers cites the writings of Jesse Lee, an officer whom Crazy Horse had trusted. Noting that, whether intended or not, the chief had made enemies on both sides of the cultural divide, Lee wrote: "'He was not left alone,' said (Crazy Horse's father) Waglula. Every courier that came out from the agencies said, 'Come in. Come in.' The whites promised to hunt him until he came in or was driven north into Canada to join Sitting Bull. 'At last he came.' But that was not the end of the trouble. 'Spotted Owl and Red Cloud had to stand aside and give him the principal place in the council. They became jealous. They were the cause of the poor boy lying there,' said Waglula. 'He was killed by too much talk.""

- Steve Fiffer has written several books of non-fiction, including "Tyrannosaurus Sue."


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# ThisDayInHistor y in 1877, Oglala Sioux chief, Crazy Horse, was killed by a U.S. soldier while being confined in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, guardhouse Nebraska.

After the battle at Little Bighorn, U.S. Army forces led by Colonel Nelson Miles pursued Crazy Horse and his followers. His tribe suffered from the cold and starvation and on May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse began negotiations to surrender to General George Crook. He was then sent to Fork Robinson, where he requested to talk to military leaders, but was led to a cell instead. Realizing the betrayal, Crazy Horse struggled to escape and was fatally stabbed in scuffle with soldiers.

Crazy Horse is remembered for his courage, leadership and his tenacity of spirit in the face of near-impossible odds.


Sioux military leader Crazy Horse is killed - HISTORY

Crazy Horse in Action.
Overview

YOU HAVE BEFORE you a veritable feast of eye-witness information on the Battle Of The Greasy Grass and the Battle Where The Girl Saved Her Brother, both fought in the Great Sioux Nation in the Month Of Ripenning Berries in the Year They Killed Long Hair, or what the Americans call the battles of the Little Bighorn and Rosebud, fought in what the Americans call Montana in June 1876.

Here, for the first time, are the 54 crucial eye-witness contributions to the story of the Little Bighorn -- together with the 40 crucial eye-witness contributions to the story of the Rosebud -- from the standpoint of the great Oglala Sioux war chief Crazy Horse. These eye-witness accounts by survivors are presented in chronological order -- like beads on a string -- as indicated by their numerical sequence and their gray background arrows.

Together they form a narrative of the battle told entirely in the words of Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Arikara and American survivors.

Astonisher.com is also pleased to present extensive eye-witness accounts of Crazy Horse's military exploits against the Crow, Shoshone, Arapaho, Ute and others, as well as the largest and most complete collection anywhere of eye-witness accounts of Crazy Horse's appearance, dream visions, women, etc. Enjoy!

September 12, 2008
Updated June 24, 2010 June 5, 2019

Crazy Horse In Action

photo: hugo
Overview
Against the Americans at the Little Bighorn
Against the Americans at the Rosebud
Against the Crows, Shoshonis, Arapahoes, Utes
Warrior and war chief
His appearance
Photographs (not)
His wives
His dream visions
With Little Hawk

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.

Timeline: The Little Bighorn

Sioux, Cheyenne and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse at the Battle of the Little Bighorn
presented in chronological order, beginning just before the battle.

1. Spotted Calf
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse declined to join the celebration on the night of June 17, 1876 after his great victory at the Battle of the Rosebud because he said he expected another battle with the Americans soon.

2. Two Moon
Cheyenne war chief

Crazy Horse welcomed battle with the American invaders.

3. He Dog
Sioux war chief

On the morning of June 25, 1876, Sioux scout Fast Horn brought word to Crazy Horse and the other free Sioux and Cheyenne war chiefs that Custer's troops were at the Crow's Nest at dawn, only a few hours ride from the Indians' village on the Little Bighorn River.

4. Foolish Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse scrambled a party of Cheyenne decoy/scouts to intercept and engage the American soldiers, if they approached the village.

5. Yellow Nose
Cheyenne holy man

Crazy Horse and Yellow Nose were bathing in the Little Bighorn River "about noon"on June 25, 1876 when they heard shots, announcing Reno's attack and the beginning the battle.

6. Red Feather
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse couldn't find his horse.

7. William Bordeaux
Sioux chronicler

Crazy Horse seemed uncharacteristically "nervous" after the American attack on the village began, and "rode in a feverish manner to the lodges of the various tribal leaders for brief talks with them. "

8. Standing Bear
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse's warriors became "impatient. "

9. Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse consulted with Soux holy man Long Turd.

Crazy Horse was again "his cool and wary self. "

Crazy Horse rode through the village calling, "All who want to fight, follow me. "

12. Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

Before joining the battle, Crazy Horse addressed his warriors, "the best fighting element" among the Sioux and Cheyenne forces. Crazy Horse told his men to "restrain their ardor" and obey his commands.

13. Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

Crazy Horse told his warriors "he wanted Reno's men to get their guns hot so they wouldn't fire so well. "

Crazy Horse told his warriors to remember "the lives of our women and children are in danger. "

15. Red Hawk
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse told his warriors: "Do your best and let us kill them all. "

Crazy Horse told his warriors: "As soon as you are mounted, follow me toward the river. "

Crazy Horse was late getting into the Reno fight.

18. Ohiyesa
Sioux chronicler

Gall, Rain In The Face and Crow King led the Indians in the early fighting against Reno, halting the American advance and then forcing Reno's men to fall back into the timber along the Little Bighorn River.

Marcus Reno was standing in the timber confering with his lead scout, Bloody Knife, when Bloody Knife "was shot through the head and his brains scattered over Reno. "

20. Thomas French
American officer

Moments later, French warned Reno, "the Indians are in our rear. "

21. Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Reno had just retreated into the timber when Black Elk heard the "thunder of the ponies charging" and the cry "Crazy Horse is coming!"

22. Iron Hawk
Sioux warrior

"Crazy Horse, having collected his warriors, made a dash for the soldiers in the timber and ran into them. "

23. Standing Bear
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse's first charge of the battle "broke Reno's left wing" in the timber.

24. Young Hawk
Arikara Scout

"The Dakota attack doubled up the line from the left and pushed this line back toward the soldiers. They all retreated back across the river. "

25. Red Feather
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse rode among the fleeing soldiers.

26. Flying Hawk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse killed many American soldiers as they ran for their lives.

Meanwhile, Custer separated from Reno to charge after some Indians along the ridge above the river, possibly Crazy Horse's Cheyenne decoys.

28. Foolish Elk
Sioux warrior

The Indians fighting Reno saw Custer's troops charge along the ridge and fire down into the village.

29. Red Horse
Sioux war chief

"Word passed among the Indians like a whirlwind" that Custer was riding to attack the other end of the village.

30. Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Disengaging from Reno, Crazy Horse turned to attack Custer, which he predicted would be the "big fight".

31. Foolish Elk
Sioux warrior

Meanwhile, Crazy Horse's decoy/scouts led Custer down Medicine Tail Coulee, across the Little Bighorn from the Cheyenne camp.

Before Crazy Horse could get there, though, Custer charged across the Little Bighorn to attack the village at Medicine Tail Coulee and was shot out of the saddle in the middle of the river by White Cow Bull.

33. Soldier Wolf
Cheyenne warrior

After Custer was shot at Medicine Tail Coulee, the two sides "for quite a time fought in the bottom" from opposite sides of the Little Bighorn River.

During this period, before they were under heavy Indian attack, Custer's men fired "two volleys," interpreted by Reno's men as a distress signal and location indicator.

35. White Shield
Cheyenne warrior

Northern Cheyenne war chief Contrary Big Belly was one of the leaders when the Indians crossed the Little Bighorn and counter-attacked Custer's troops.

36. Kill Eagle
Sioux war chief

"Vast numbers of Indians" rushed straight at Custer's now leaderless troops and drove the Americans back up the hill.

37. Wooden Leg
Cheyenne warrior

Southern Cheyenne war chief Lame White Man was one of the leaders when the Indian counter-attack drove Custer's men back along Calhoun Ridge, where Lame White Man was killed.

After Custer's men were driven back from the Little Bighorn River, Crazy Horse led a strong party of Cheyennes across the river to flank the retreating Americans.

Crazy Horse flanked Custer's retreating troops, repeating the deadly manuever he had used to destroy Reno's line in the timber just a few minutes before .

40. Flying Hawk
Sioux warrior

Circling around behind Custer's troops, Crazy Horse gave his horse to Flying Hawk while he sniped the Seventh Cavalry soldiers on Calhoun Hill and studied the situation.

41. Drags The Rope
Sioux youth

New recruits like young Drags The Rope swelled Crazy Horse's forces.

42. He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse led the charge that split Custer's right flank on Calhoun Hill into "two bunches".

43. Red Feather
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse rode between the split portions of Custer's right flank blowing on his eagle horn.

44. Lazy White Bull
Sioux warrior

Lazy White Bull said he rode ahead of Crazy Horse when Crazy Horse made his famous dash between the split portions of Custer's right flank, but no one else remembered it that way.

45. Foolish Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse led a charge that hit a portion of Custer's disintegrating line head on, and then split and "slashed at it from both sides" as the warriors rode the length of the Bluecoats' line.

46. Ohiyesa
Sioux chronicler

Crazy Horse, Ice Bear and Little Horse led the charge that annihilated the last troopers at the crest of Last Stand Hill.

47. Flying Hawk
Sioux warrior

At the very end of the Custer fight, Crazy Horse rode after, caught, and killed an American trooper who tried to escape on a fast horse.

48. Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse killed 16 American soldiers in the Custer fight, plus 15 in Reno fight, for a total of 31 Americans killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

49. Short Bull
Sioux warrior

As at the Battle of the Rosebud nine days before, Crazy Horse was again commander-in-chief of the free Sioux and Cheyenne military forces when the Indians withdrew on June 26, 1876.

The Sioux and Cheyenne withdrawal on June 26, 1876 was like "some Biblical exodus the Israelites moving into Egypt a mighty tribe on the march. "

51. Little Soldier
Sioux warrior

Little Soldier said Crazy Horse was the "greatest warrior" at the battle.. .

52. Water Man
Arapaho warrior

Waterman said Crazy Horse was "the bravest man" he ever saw.

Feather Earring said Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull "got good reputation" at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. ..

54. Crow King
Sioux war chief

Crow King said Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were the "great chiefs" of the battle.

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Timeline: The Rosebud

Sioux, Cheyenne and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse at the Battle of the Rosebud
presented in chronological order, beginning just before the battle.

1. Weasel Bear
Cheyenne warrior

When the free Cheyenne learned in early June 1876 that an American army had invaded their land, and the Americans intended to imprison them on reservations, "Word was sent to Crazy Horse. "

2. Gall
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse was the Indian commander at the Battle of the Rosebud.

Crazy Horse was the Indian commander at the Battle of the Rosebud.

4. Lazy White Bull
Sioux warrior

The Sioux / Cheyenne force rode all night to strike Crook on the Rosebud on the morning of June 17, 1876.

5. John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse's plan for a grand trap at the Battle of the Rosebud.

6. Henry Lemly
American soldier

Shortly after 8 a.m. on June 17, 1876, Crook's men were dismounted and resting, some with saddle girths loosened, when Crazy Horse's first charge of the battle swept down upon them.

7. Anson Mills
American officer

"The Indians came not in a line but in flocks or herds like buffalo, and they piled upon us until I think there must have been one thousand or fifteen hundred in our immediate front. "

8. Frank Grouard
American Scout

Half of the American soldiers would have been killed in Crazy Horse's first charge, if not for the valor of Crook's Crow and Shoshoni scouts.

9. John Finerty
American officer

Crazy Horse's first charge, and the Americans' counter-charge.

10. Little Hawk
Cheyenne warrior

Cheyenne woman warrior, Buffalo Calf Road, rescued her brother, Comes In Sight, whose horse was shot out from under him on the first charge.

"Crazy Horse, Bad Heart Bull, Black Deer, Kicking Bear and Good Weasel rallied the Sioux. "

12. Young Two Moon
Cheyenne war chief

"There was now fighting all along the line. "

13. John Bourke
American officer

"The Sioux and the Cheyenne were extremely bold and fierce. "

14. John Finerty
American officer

The "wild foemen" and their savage style of fighting.

15. Anson Mills
American officer

"The Indians proved then and there that they were the best cavalry soldiers on earth. "

16. John Finerty
American officer

Humpy rescued Sgt. Van Moll.

17. Lazy White Bull
Sioux warrior

One Bull rescued Rooster Lazy White Bull rescued mortally wounded Black Sun.

18. John Bourke
American officer

John Bourke rescued badly wounded Trumpeter Snow.

19. Young Two Moon
Cheyenne war chief

"Young Two Moon thought this was his last day. " but White Shield saved his life.

20. John Finerty
American officer

Crazy Horse commanded his forces by mirror flash from high ground.

21. John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse and Crook played a game of chase and retreat.

22. Wooden Leg
Cheyenne warrior

Wooden Leg recalled: "Sometimes we chased them, sometimes they chased us."

23. Henry Lemly
American soldier

"The Sioux ponies always outdistanced our grain-fed American horses. "

24. Anson Mills
American Officer

Crook divided his command, sending Mills to capture a non-existent Indian village he believed was nearby.

25. John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse nearly captured several American officers, including two on Crook's staff.

26. John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse's warriors shot Crook's horse out from under him.

27. John Bourke
American officer

Crook ordered his men to fall back, but before the order could be carried out.

28. John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse attacked Crook's flank and rear, hitting troops commanded by William B. Royall.

29. William Bordeaux
Sioux chronicler

"The attack was not staged in one mass but relayed in formations, a style of fighting initiated by Crazy Horse and sometimes successful in encircling troops."

30. Anson Mills
American officer

Crazy Horse's warriors cut Crook's over-extended flank to pieces, "charging bodily and rapidly through the soldiers, knocking them from their horses with lances and knives, dismounting and killing them, cutting the arms of several off at the elbows in the midst of the fight and carrying them away. "

31. John Finerty
American officer

Troops commanded by Guy V. Henry helped save the over-extended American Third Cavalry, but in the process Henry was struck by "a bullet which passed through both cheek bones, broke the bridge of his nose, and destroyed the optic nerve in one eye. "

32. Anson Mills
American officer

Crazy Horse's mauling of Royall forced Crook to recall Mills and the men he had sent to find the Indians' village.

33. Henry Lemly
American soldier

As Crook consolidated his forces, Crazy Horse withdrew his forces into the Canyon of the Rosebud.

34. Frank Grouard
American scout

Grouard warned Crook that Crazy Horse would kill every single American if they tried to follow the Indians into the Canyon of the Rosebud.

35. Henry Lemly
American soldier

When Crook's Indian scouts flatly refused to follow the Sioux and Cheyenne into the Canyon of the Rosebud, the battle effectively ended.

36. Henry Lemly
American soldier

"Crook's enemies say he was 'outgeneralled' by Crazy Horse. "

37. Anson Mills
American officer

"We had been most humiliatingly defeated. "

38. Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse showed "good judgement" at the Rosebud

39. Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "whipped them" at the Rosebud.

40. Spotted Calf
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse refused to join the celebration on the night of June 17, 1876 after his great victory at the Battle of the Rosebud because he said he expected another battle with the Americans soon.

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Indian Wars

Sioux and Cheyenne.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse in action
against the Crow, Shoshoni, Arapaho and Ute Indians .

Crazy Horse's bravery against the Shoshoni when he saved the life of his younger brother, Little Hawk.

Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse saved the life of his brother, Little Hawk.

Crazy Horse
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse's own account of saving Little Hawk's life.

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse gave his younger brother, Little Hawk, his first coup in a battle against the Utes.

Crazy Horse and the battle called "The Time Hump Was Killed By The Crow"

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse and the battle called "The Time Hump Was Killed By The Crow"

Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse and the battle called "The Time Yellow Shirt Was Killed By The Crow"

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse at the battle the Sioux called "The Time They Chased The Crow Back To Camp"

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse and He Dog 's glory against the Crow

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse's bravery against the Arapaho

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Warrior and war chief

Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse as a warrior .

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse always led his men in battle, riding at the front

Philip Sheridan
American officer

Crazy Horse "always leads and he never allows his men to close up on him. "

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse "is in front and. if he shoots down an enemy, he does not count coup."

"We know Crazy Horse" because "whenever we have a fight, he is closer to us than to you."

Frank Grouard
American scout

"Crazy Horse was the Napoleon among the Sioux. "

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse liked to have battles planned out

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse "had an organization" of crack troops

John Finerty
American officer

At the Battle of the Rosebud, Crazy Horse controlled the free Indian forces by mirror flash

On the Powder River, a Socratic Crazy Horse asked his sub-commanders, "how about it?"

Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

As a battlefield maneuver, Crazy Horse apparently trained his pony to rear and dance wildly, somewhat like levade in European dressage.

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

On the Powder River, Crazy Horse said, " These soldiers like to shoot. I am going to give them a chance to do all the shooting they want to do. "

Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

At the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse ordered his men to let the Americans "get their guns hot so they would not work so well. "

At the Battle of the Rosebud, Crazy Horse's attack "was not staged in one mass but relayed in formations, a style of fighting initiated by Crazy Horse and sometimes successful in encircling troops."

Iron Hawk
Sioux warrior

At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse led the charge that smashed Reno's defensive line in the timber.

He Dog
Sioux war chief

At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse led the charge that split Custer's right flank on Calhoun Hill into "two bunches".

At the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse rode between the split portions of Custer's right flank blowing on his eagle horn.

Foolish Elk
Sioux warrior

At the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse led a charge that hit a portion of Custer's disintegrating line head on, and then split and "slashed at it from both sides" as the warriors rode the length of the Bluecoats' line.

Ohiyesa
Sioux chronicler

At the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse, Ice Bear and Little Horse led the charge that annihilated the last troopers at the crest of Last Stand Hill.

Flying Hawk
Sioux warrior

At the very end at the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse rode after, caught, and killed an American trooper who tried to escape on a fast horse.

Water Man
Arapaho warrior

Waterman said Crazy Horse was "the bravest man" he ever saw.

Frank Grouard
American scout

"Crazy Horse was the bravest man he ever met. "

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse frequently dismounted to shoot for maximum accuracy

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse "always stuck close to his rifle"

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
His appearance

Sioux and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse's appearance .

Little Killer
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse had "brown hair like a white man's and a long straight nose. "

Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse had "black eyes that hardly ever looked straight at a man, but they didn't miss much that was going on, all the same. "

New York Sun Reporter
American journalist

Crazy Horse's "eyes are exceedingly restless and impress the beholder fully as much as does his general demeanor. "

Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse's "eyes looked through things and he always seemed to be thinking hard about something. "

Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun
American daughter of trader
James Bordeaux

Crazy Horse was "a very handsome young man. "

Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse would joke around in his own tepee, "but around the village he hardly ever noticed anybody, except little children. "

Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse was "a quiet fellow. "

Flying Hawk
Sioux warrior

"Crazy Horse was quiet and not inclined to associate with others. "

Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "never was excited. "

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse was shot point blank in the face "just below the left nostril," scarring him for life

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse was "shot through the head below the eye. "

Frank Grouard
American scout

Crazy Horse had gun "powder marks on one side of his face. "

New York Sun Reporter
American journalist

Crazy Horse had a scar from "a bullet wound through his left cheek. "

George Oaks
American teamster

Crazy Horse "had quite a scar on his left cheek. "

Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse had a scar on the right side of his face.

John Bourke
American officer

Crazy Horse was "lithe and sinewy and with a scar in the face. The expression of his countenance was one of quiet dignity. "

Crazy Horse "had white spots painted here and there on his face for protection in battle. "



Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse painted red lightning on his face for war .

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse "never wore a war bonnet. "


Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

Crazy Horse "never wore a war bonnet. "



Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "never wore a war bonnet. "

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse had his "eagle horn" -- his sacred eagle bone war whistle -- "with him at all times. "

Frank Huston
American scout

Crazy Horse "wore the long white 'stole' over his shoulders as insignia, and also to tie himself to his planted lance in a fight to the death."

Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse"usually wore a Iroquois shell necklace. "

Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun
American daughter of trader
James Bordeaux

Crazy Horse's "scalp lock was ornamented with beads and hung clear to his waist his braids were wrapped in fur. "

Crazy Horse liked to wear a red blanket he took from a frieght shipment his men intercepted in 1867 after the Fort Kearny fight. ..

Frank Grouard
American scout

Crazy Horse "appeared much younger than his age. "

Crazy Horse rode a pinto at the Little Bighorn



Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "never wanted to have many things for himself, and did not have many ponies like a chief. "

Thunder Tail
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse said, "take this message -- I shall go slowly" to any meeting with Americans hungry for for more Lakota land

Valentine McGillycuddy
American Army physician and Indian Agent

"Crazy Horse. was a good man, and I would trust him anywhere. "

Baptiste Pourier
American trader and frontiersman

"Crazy Horse was as fine an Indian as he ever knew. "

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Photos (not)

Supposed photos of Crazy Horse .

Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

Crazy Horse "never had his picture taken. He was very peculiar about this. "

Horn Chips
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "never had his photo taken. "

Valentine McGillycuddy
American Army physician and Indian Agent

"I tried hard to have one taken of him in 1877," but Crazy Horse woudn't allow it.

Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Short Bull said he had seen three photos of Crazy Horse, all showing him on horseback.

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
His wives

Sioux and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse's women .

Little Killer
Sioux warrior

He Dog
Sioux war chief

Baptiste Pourier
American frontiersman

Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun
American daughter of trader James Bordeaux

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Dream Visions

Sioux and American.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse's Visions .

Crazy Horse
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse dreamed "I was sitting on a hill or rise, and something touched me on the head. "

Black Elk
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse "dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. "

Billy Garnett
American Indian Agency interpreter

Crazy Horse dreamed "a man on horseback came out of the lake. "

Frank Grouard
American scout

Crazy Horse dreamed he saw "a mighty eagle soaring far above him. "

Fool's Crow
Sioux holy man

Crazy Horse's Great Vision.

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices.


Crazy Horse in Action.
Little Hawk

Sioux and Cheyenne.
Eyewitness accounts of Crazy Horse and his younger brother, Little Hawk .

Crazy Horse, Little Hawk and the grizzly bear.

Short Bull
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse's bravery against the Shoshoni when he saved the life of his younger brother, Little Hawk.

Crazy Horse
Sioux war chief

Crazy Horse's own account of saving Little Hawk's life.

Eagle Elk
Sioux warrior

Crazy Horse gave his younger brother, Little Hawk, his first coup in a battle against the Utes.

Crazy Horse killed a horse over the grave of his brother, Little Hawk.

© Copyright 1973 - 2020 by Bruce Brown and BF Communications Inc.

Astonisher, Astonisher.com, Conversations With Crazy Horse, 100 Voices, Who Killed Custer?, The Winter Count of Crazy Horse's Life, and Mysteries of the Little Bighorn are trademarks of BF Communications Inc.

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More Crazy Horse
Eye-witness Resources

* Bogus Crazy Horse Photos: Crazy Horse and Black Shawl Woman (Not)

* Sioux and Cheyenne battlefield tactics during the American wars of imperial conquest on the High Plains


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