Crazy Horse: Early Years
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.
READ MORE: Native American History Timeline
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.
READ MORE: What Really Happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn?
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.
READ MORE: American-Indian Wars: Timeline, Battles & Summary
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.
Crazy Horse: A Life. Larry McMurtry.
Crazy Horse: War Chief Of The Oglala Sioux. Martin S. Goldman.
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Dee Brown.
Crazy Horse Memorial: Quick Facts. Crazy Horse Memorial.
Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witko) was known among his people as a farsighted chief, committed to safeguarding the tradition and principles of the Sioux (Lakota) way of life. Distinguished by his fierceness in battle, he was a great general who led his people in a war against the invasion of their homeland by the white man. As a fierce enemy, Crazy Horse summoned the anger, fear — and respect — of the U.S. Government and its army. Birth and childhood Crazy Horse was born in 1844 at Bear Butte, possibly on the Belle Fourche River east of Paha Sapa, also known as the Black Hills. The boy's name at birth was Curly. Curly's father, also named Crazy Horse, was an Oglala Lakota, and his mother, Rattling Blanket Woman*, was a Brulè Lakota. Curly also had a sister and a half-brother. Rattling Blanket Woman died when he was young. His father took her sister as a wife and she helped to rear Curly. He spent time in both the Oglala and Brulè camps. Curly’s boyhood was in the days when the western Sioux seldom saw a white man, and then it was usually a trader or a soldier. Curly was groomed according to tribal customs. At that period, the Sioux prided themselves on the training and development of their sons and daughters, and they did not overlook a step in that development. Before he was 12, Curly had killed a buffalo and received his own horse. On August 19, 1854, he was in Conquering Bear ’s camp in northern Wyoming when that Brulè leader was killed in the Grattan Massacre, a bloody dispute between Indians and soldiers over a butchered cow. The way of the warrior was a societal role preordained for males in traditional Lakota life. Following the Grattan Massacre, Curly, like other young men, set out alone on a Vision Quest. He was not disappointed: The boy had a vivid dream of a rider in a storm on horseback, with long, unbraided hair, a small stone in his ear, zigzag lightning decorating his cheek, and hail dotting his body. Although a warrior, he bore no scalps. People clutched at the rider, but could not hold him. The storm abated, and a red-backed hawk flew over the rider’s head. When Curly reported the dream to his father, and the medicine man was consulted, the latter interpreted it as a sign of his son’s future greatness in battle. The following year, Curly witnessed the destruction of Sioux tepees and possessions by soldiers during General William Harney’s punitive crusade through Sioux territory along the Oregon Trail. During his formative years, Curly experienced several more revelations about white people, stemming from incidents involving the U.S. Army. One such incident involved a retaliation in which the army wiped out most of an unsuspecting Lakota village, killing women and children as well as warriors. Early career At the age of 16, Curly joined a war party against the Gros Ventres, an offshoot of the Arapaho. He rode well in the front of the charge, and immediately established his bravery by closely following Hump, one of the foremost Sioux warriors — drawing the enemy's fire and circling around their advance guard. Suddenly Hump's horse was shot from under him, and a rush of warriors converged to kill or capture him while down. Nevertheless, amidst a shower of arrows, the youth leaped from his pony, helped his friend into his own saddle, sprang up behind him, and carried him off to safety — the enemy hotly pursued them. Elder Crazy Horse took the name, Worm, after passing his name to his courageous son when he was about 18 years old. For the first time, at that age, Crazy Horse rode as an adult warrior in a raid on Crows. Like the rider in his dream, he wore his hair free, a stone earring, and a headdress with a red hawk feather in it. His face was painted with a lightning bolt, and his body bore hail-like dots. The raid was successful, but Crazy Horse sustained a wound in the leg. According to his father's interpretation, he had taken two scalps — unlike the rider in the vision. Marriages and later career Crazy Horse had three wives during his lifetime, Black Buffalo Woman, Black Shawl, and Nellie Laravie. The warrior became further known to many of the Sioux bands for his courage in the War for the Bozeman Trail of 1866-68 under the Oglala Chief Red Cloud, when the army began to build a road in Powder River country from the Oregon Trail to the goldfields of Montana. He was one of the young chiefs, along with the Miniconjou Hump and the Hunkpapas Chief Gall, and Chief Rain-in-the-Face, who used decoy tactics against the soldiers. Near Fort Phil Kearny, in what is now northcentral Wyoming, Crazy Horse participated in the Indian victory known as the Fetterman Fight. In December 1866, Crazy Horse acted as a decoy leader helping to lure Lt. Colonel William J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny into a trap, then utter defeat by Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors. Owing to such deeds, Crazy Horse became a war leader by his mid-twenties. Chief Sitting Bull looked to him as a principal war leader. In fact, he was one of the youngest Lakota men in memory to receive one of the highest honors and responsibilities accorded to males: the title of Shirtwearer. Crazy Horse honed his skills as a guerrilla fighter and studied the ways of his military adversaries. When Red Cloud and Chief Spotted Tail settled on reservation lands following the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, in which the army agreed to abandon the posts along the Bozeman Trail, Crazy Horse became war chief of the Oglalas, with some Brulè followers as well. Moreover, he gained friends and followers among the Northern Cheyennes through his first marriage to Black Buffalo Woman, a Cheyenne. In March 1876, when General George Crook's scouts discovered an Indian trail, he sent a detachment under Colonel Joseph Reynolds to locate an Indian camp along the Powder River in southeastern Montana. At dawn on March 17, Reynolds ordered a charge. The Indians retreated to surrounding bluffs and fired at the troops, who burned the village and rounded up the Indian horses. Crazy Horse regrouped his warriors and, during a snowstorm that night, recaptured the herd. On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led a combined group of approximately 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne in a surprise attack against General George Crook's force of 1,000 cavalry and infantry, and 300 Crow and Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud. Repeated assaults forced Crook’s troops to retreat. The battle delayed Crook from reinforcing the 7th Cavalry under George A. Custer. After the successful engagement, the Indians then moved their camp to the Bighorn River to join Chief Sitting Bull's large encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne. Eight days later, on the Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn) River, he led Lakota and Cheyenne warriors again in a decisive victory against George Custer's 7th Cavalry. On the 25th of June, 1876, the great camp was scattered for three miles or more along the level riverside. Behind a thin line of cottonwoods stood five circular groups of teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in circumference. Here and there stood a prominent, white, solitary teepee these were the lodges or "clubs" of the young men. Crazy Horse was a member of the Strong Hearts and the Fox (Tokala) lodge. He was watching a game of ring toss, when a warning came from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops. Although taken by surprise, they instantly responded. Crazy Horse led his men northward to cut off Custer and his troops. Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, a chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux, led their warriors in a pincer attack that quickly enveloped Custer's divided cavalry. There would be reprisals. Latter days When the nomadic hunting bands ignored the order to report to their reservations by January 31, 1876, the military organized a pogrom against them. The next autumn and winter, Colonel Nelson A. Miles led the 5th Infantry in a ruthless pursuit of the Indian bands, wearing them down and making it difficult for them to obtain food. Crazy Horse received word that if he surrendered, his people would have a reservation of their own in the Powder River country. On May 8, he knew too well that his people were weakened by cold and hunger, so he surrendered to United States soldiers at Fort Robinson on the Red Cloud Agency in northwestern Nebraska. In September 1877, Crazy Horse's wife became critically ill, and Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy went to his camp to treat her. Crazy Horse then decided to take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency. He left the reservation without permission, so General Crook, fearing that he was plotting a return to battle, ordered him to be arrested. Crazy Horse did not resist arrest at first, but when he realized that he was being led to a guardhouse, he began to struggle, and while one of the arresting officers held his arms, a soldier ran him through with a bayonet. Crazy Horse had signed no treaties, and he surrendered only because he did not want his followers to suffer depravation, cold, and hunger. Except for Gall and Sitting Bull, he was the last important chief to yield.
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Crazy Horse - HISTORY
Crazy Horse was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Indian territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. Take a look below for 30 more fascinating and interesting facts about Crazy Horse.
1. His participation in several famous battles of the American Indian Wars on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman massacre in 1866, in which he acted as a decoy, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.
2. In September 1877, four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General George Crook, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present day Nebraska.
3. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American warriors and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13 cent Great Americans series postage stamp.
4. Sources differ on the precise year of Crazy Horse’s birth, but most agree that he was born between 1840 and 1845.
5. According to a close friend, he and Crazy Horse, “were both born in the same year at the same season of the year,” which census records and other interviews place in 1842.
6. Crazy Horse was born to parents from two tribes of the Lakota division of the Sioux, his father being an Oglala and his mother a Miniconjou.
7. His father, born in 1810, was also named Crazy Horse.
8. Crazy Horse was named Cha-O-Ha, or In the Wilderness or Among the Trees, at birth, meaning he was one with nature.
9. His mother, Rattling Blanket Woman, gave him the nickname “Curly” or “Light Hair,” as his light curly hair resembled her own.
10. His mother died when Crazy Horse was just four years old.
11. One account said that after Crazy Horse reached maturity and shown his strength, his father gave him his name and took a new one, Worm.
12. Crazy Horse’s cousin was Touch the Clouds. He saved Crazy Horse’s life at least once and was with him when he died.
13. Through traditional Lakota vision quests and fighting prowess skirmishes both with traditional enemy tribes and the colonial settlers, Crazy Horse grew in stature and respect among his people.
14. He participated in the Battle of Platte Bridge and the Battle of Red Buttes in 1965 to finally be elevated to the status of The Shirt Wearer, which was the leader in battle.
15. He became a regular leader of large war parties of mixed Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.
16. Despite his name, Crazy Horse was a quiet and reserved person.
17. While he was a brace and fearless leader in battle, he didn’t talk much when in the village. Like most Native American chiefs, he was very generous.
18. Crazy Horse gave away most of his own possessions to other people in his tribe. He was most passionate about protecting the traditional ways of his people.
19. When Crazy Horse was still a boy, a number of U.S. soldiers entered his camp and claimed that one of the village men had stolen a cow from a local farmer. An argument ensued and one of the soldiers shot and killed Chief Conquering Bear.
20. Crazy Horse became war chief at the age of 24.
21. In 1876, Crazy Horse led his men into battle against Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. A few days before the battle, Crazy Horse and his men held off the advancement of General George Crook at the Battle of Rosebud. This left Colonel Custer’s men badly outnumbered.
22. At the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his warriors helped to surround Custer’s men. When Custer dug in to make his famous last stand, legend has it that it was Crazy Horse who led the final charge overwhelming Custer’s soldiers.
23. The Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota has a monumental sculpture of Crazy Horse was is 563 feet high and 641 feet long.
24. He refused to be photographed.
25. He had a daughter named They Are Afraid of Her.
26. The Last Sun Dance of 1877 is significant in Lakota history as the Sun Dance held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and to offer prayers for him in the trying times ahead.
27. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest but didn’t take part in the dancing.
28. Five warrior cousins sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. The five warrior cousins were three brothers, Flying Hawk, Kicking Bear and Black Fox II, all sons of Chief Black Fox.
29. Crazy Horse married Black Shawl, a member of the Oglala Lakota and relative of Spotted Tail. The elders sent her to heal Crazy Horse after his altercation with No Water.
30. Black Shawl outlived Crazy Horse. She died in 1927 during the influenza outbreaks of the 1920s.
Inside the controversial 70-year journey to build Crazy Horse, the world's largest monument that still isn't finished
The world's largest monument is also one of the world's slowest to build.
In South Dakota, 70 years have passed since one man — and later his family — began to sculpt Crazy Horse, a famous Native American figure, into a granite mountain.
In September, the New Yorker took a look at the lengthy sculpting process and controversies around the monument. Some say the project's construction has become more about sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his family, who have devoted their lives to the sculpture, rather than focusing on the Native Americans it's meant to honor.
Ziolkowski spent his life working on the granite, but he did not live to even see the finished face. "Go slowly, so you do it right," he told his second wife. He thought it would take 30 years. It's now been 71 years, and it's far from finished.
Here's what the sculpture is like so far, and why finishing it is taking so long.
EPISODE 7 Crazy Horse (Part 1)
"What good is power if you cannot protect the ones you love?" muses Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. I can’t think of a more appropriate question to discuss the life of 19th century Lakota hero Crazy Horse. His undeniable power as a warrior, in fact, didn’t spare him from having tragedy visit him time and time again. Taking place against the backdrop of the Lakota-U.S. conflict in the second half of the 1800s, his life was the quintessential tale where epic, heartbreak, bravery, and horror mix freely. His people were one of the last Native American tribes to stand in the face of American expansion. And Crazy Horse was always in the thick of the action, throughout over twenty years of intermittent warfare. In the first of this four-part series, we’ll cover the first couple of decades of Crazy Horse’s story, the first dramatic clash between Lakota warriors and the U.S. Army, vision quests, thunder-dreaming, earning the ‘Crazy Horse’ name, Sand Creek Massacre, and calling for revenge.
This Crazy Horse series is dedicated to James R. Weddell (“Ista To’paicagopi”)
This episodes is sponsored by www.geeknationtours.com In addition to offering tours to many locations that would be of interest to fans of history, next summer they will lead a tour to the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana, site of the 1876 epic clash between the 7th Cavalry and the Lakota and Cheyenne forces.
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Dita Von Teese at Crazy Horse
Dita Von Teese has a long-standing relationship with Crazy Horse.
The Queen of Burlesque par excellence last performed there in 2016, celebrating the tenth anniversary of her first appearance with 33 exclusive shows.
Performing at Crazy Horse, she delivered some of her most iconic performances, including Lazy as well as landmark acts like Undressed to Kill and Le Bain, renamed Le Bain Noir for the occasion.
When I was young, I was literally obsessed by the Crazy. I would collect pictures of the dancers in uniform and in the early 90s, when I first came to Paris, I was adamant about coming here and I went to see the show four times in one week!
After a few days, Alain Bernardin’s daughter noticed me and gave me permission to come as often as I wanted to. I must have seen the show at least 30 times! To me, it’s the French version of the American burlesque.
8. He Mistrusted the White Man
The Lakota were the biggest tribe of the Sioux people, and had lived peacefully on their land until the 1850s. White settlers started making their way into the Great Plains, and they brought ruin with them. Though still young, Crazy Horse understood that these people threatened his tribe’s lifestyle and livelihood.
He was right to be afraid: The Grattan conflict he’d witnessed became the forerunner of the First Sioux War, between the United States and the Lakota.
Crazy Horse - HISTORY
Floyd Clown, grandson of Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, and author William Matson, front, were at the Seven Circles Heritage Center in Edwards Oct. 13 to meet visitors and share the story of Crazy Horse and truth of his bloodline. Matson worked for 12 years with the Clown family, researching legal documents and oral histories to establish the Crazy Horse blood tree, which is now recognized in federal court. (Photo by Holly Eaton/ for Chronicle Media)
His name was Tashunke Witko, known to some as War Eagle, and to many as Crazy Horse, the Lakota Warrior.
Now, after 141 years after his death, the family has broken its silence and established its bloodline in federal court.
Floyd Clown, third generation grandson of Crazy Horse, visited Seven Circles Heritage Center on Southport Road in Edwards on Oct. 13 to dispel the abounding myths surrounding Crazy Horse, and share the truth of their heritage.
“From 1877 until 2001, we were supposed to keep quiet and just listen and walk away, ‘Don’t tell them who you are,’” Clown said. “In 2001, our grandfather said its time to tell truth, no more assumptions.”
The family went into hiding in 1877 after Crazy Horse was killed at Fort Robinson, Neb. Another of his brothers was killed in 1918, and the family members fell silent for fear of persecution.
In the meantime, other families claimed Crazy Horse as a member of their tribe, and it became a widely-held belief that he was a member of the very tribe whose members killed him — the Oglala Sioux. Crazy Horse was Miniconjou Lakota.
“Assumptions are when you make something up, then, and after so long, you begin to believe it’s true when it’s not the truth,” Clown said. “When they were assuming, they were forgetting who their real grandfathers and grandmothers are, and, in doing so, they are forgotten.”
It boils down to land administration, he said. The federal government grants administrative powers over Native American lands to bloodlines. Members of the Oglala Sioux became legal administrators of the Crazy Horse estate based on false claims.
“When our bloodline was introduced to federal court, they made me the administrator of Cheyenne River,” Clown said. “But these other two administrators, Pine Ridge and Rosebud. We are waiting for them, for their blood tree.”
The Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations are in South Dakota, west of the Missouri River. The administrators of Rosebud and Pine Ridge are Oglala Sioux, and the case remains in federal court, waiting for the Oglala to prove their bloodline connection to the Crazy Horse family.
Edward Clown, nephew of Crazy Horse, and his wife Amy members of the famous Lakota warrior’s family who maintained lifelong silence about their bloodline for fear of retribution. Edward died in 1987 Amy in 1996. Floyd Clown, legal administrator of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, is Edward’s grandson. (Photo courtesy of The Edward Clown Family)
“We’re still waiting on them. They’ve postponed, extended it. That’s why we decided to make this book and we’re going around the world, telling the truth of our family,” he said. “There are over 500 books written about my grandfather, and movies and they are all fiction, based on assumptions.”
“Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life & Legacy,” details the oral and written history of the Edward Clown Family, and clarifies the lineage of Crazy Horse through probate testimonies and documents substantiating the bloodline.
“The probates, this is how we show our identity and this is what we’re waiting for from these two administrators,” Clown said. “Our Lakota family handed down these stories with truth. The book was originally for our family, our children and grandchildren, but we want the world to know.”
Author William Matson’s involvement with the Clown family began with a longstanding grudge. Matson’s father Emerson served during World War II with the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Division.
“When he was in basic training, someone asked him who won the battle of Little Big Horn, and he said, ‘The Indians did,’” Matson explained. “That was the wrong answer and he got punished for it, so he held a grudge and passed that along to his son.”
Matson made a deathbed promise to his father, also a writer, that he would write a book to clear up the facts. In 1999, he traveled from Oregon to the Chief Dull Knife College Library in Lame Deer, Montana to research Crazy Horse.
“Things were all mixed up,” Matson said. “I wasn’t being lead in the right direction, and the books and materials, it didn’t add up.”
In 2001, while researching at Bear Butte, South Dakota, Matson was given the phone number for Doug War Eagle, a grandson of Crazy Horse. Unknown to Matson, the Crazy Horse family were told by their grandfathers that “someone from the west was coming to help them.”
Published in September 2016, “Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life & Legacy” is the account of the Edward Clown family’s tales and memories told to them about Edward’s ancestor Crazy Horse. The family is working to clarify the inaccuracies surrounding the life of the famous Lakota leader, and share knowledge that was kept private from 1877 until 2001. (Photo courtesy of The Edward Clown Family)
Before they would share their stories, Matson was first asked to attend a ceremony, to determine that he had a “good heart.” Matson was escorted to an Inipi, a three-hour sweat lodge purification ceremony.
“They determined after the ceremony that I have a good heart,” he said. “It was very intense.”
For 12 years, Matson worked closely with Clown, Doug War Eagle and Don Red Thunder, also a grandson and the book was published in 2016. Matson, his wife Mae and Clown have since traveled extensively sharing a truth that was 141 years in the making.
“When we showed our blood tree, this was the first time anybody had ever seen it, the paternal side and the maternal side,” Clown said. “Now, I can say I’m a grandson. I can show proof of who I am under federal law my identity.”
Clown and Matson will return to the area on May 12, 2019 when they visit the Bloomington Public Library. There likely will be a stop in East Peoria, they said. A library of books and documentaries can be found at the website, www.reelcontact.com.
The Crazy Horse family also maintains an active Facebook page, including live stream videos of events “Tashunke Witko Tiwahe/Crazy Horse Family/ECF.”
—- ‘Time to tell truth’: Crazy Horse ancestors clear up history in new book —
Crazy Horse Surrenders
On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse and nearly 900 Sioux and Cheyenne followers came into Fort Robinson, Nebraska, near present-day Crawford. On the edge of starvation, they gave up.
Crazy Horse’s surrender meant that the northern plains Indian wars had come to an end. For history, it was an epochal moment. For a people, it was a sad collapse of a proud way of life.
Read more about this complex story online.
“War or Peace: The Anxious Wait for Crazy Horse,” by Oliver Knight, Nebraska History 54 (1973): 521-544.
Watch the video: Crazy Horse June 2021 (January 2022).