Crazy Horse 1840(?)-1877
This might or
might not be a photograph of Crazy Horse.
good people at the Custer Battlefield Museum
think it probably is.
What does Neil Young
and his Crazy Horse album
have to do with this?
Think Native American
Crazy Horse's Indian
name was Ta-sunko-witko. He was born around 1840 or 1842 by the
Belle Fourche River, which is near Bear Butte, close to your today's Rapid City in South Dakota.
The surrounding Black Hills were Crazy Horse's home turf.
Crazy Horse died on September 5, 1877, at Fort
Robinson, Nebraska. Apparently, no one knows where he was buried.
George E. Hyde described Crazy Horse
as a genius at war and a lover of peace. He was a bit of a loner and not very talk
enthused. His folks thought him a little bit unorthodox
when it came to following traditions, for which Crazy Horse
didn't seem to care too much.
Crazy Horse might or might not have been a
chief as such but we know for sure that he was a
Sioux of the
branch and that he acted as a leader several times in his life.
is said to have been loved for his charity and courage. He was a
skilled fighter. He became the symbol of Sioux freedom, courage, and
Crazy Horse - The
There was a great Sioux uprising in
Minnesota in 1862, which was the time of the
American Civil War. The Sioux, led by
Little Crow, were defeated by the whites.
Around 1865, the white man decided to
build a road through the northern Great Plains up to Montana -
the Bozeman Trail.
Reason was the gold findings there. On December 21, 1866, frictions between whites and Indians
escalated. Near Fort
Phil Kearny in Wyoming Territory, the Indians killed 80 whites
including their Captain William J. Fetterman, who, some say, had it coming.
There was more trouble on August 2,
1867, in what
became known as the Wagon Box Fight. Again close to Fort Phil Kearny
in Wyoming Territory, Captain Powell and approx. 40 men were
attacked by Indians, however,
this time the whites were able to defend themselves.
The tension between Indians and
whites grew as more and more whites moved in while the game (ergo
food) moved out.
The Second Treaty of
Fort Laramie - August 1868
This treaty guaranteed the
Indians possession of the Dakota territory west of the
Missouri River. That was until in 1874 gold was discovered in the
Black Hills, which was Dakota Territory.
The US government had a
problem because their people weren't willing to give up the gold. So it
ordered that all Indians had to go back to their reservations by
January 31, 1876. Most likely, this decision of the US government
did not go out to each and every Indian. At the same time, many of
the Indians who knew about it deeply resented it.
Not surprisingly hostility
General George Crook
tried to force Crazy Horse to move away from his winter camp on the
Tongue and Powder rivers in Montana Territory, Crazy Horse
and his people went deeper into the hills instead.
In June 1876, the US government sent
Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry to track down the Indians and
them elsewhere — by force if need be.
BATTLE OF THE ROSEBUD - JUNE 17, 1876
teamed up with the Cheyenne and launched a surprise attack on Crook
and his men in the Rosebud valley, southern Montana, on June 17, 1876.
Crazy Horse and his folks then went
back their own ways into the hills. Little did he know he was followed
by Colonel Nelson A. Miles and his soldiers. Miles wanted to
register all Indians with the government agencies. Crazy Horse
was not a fan of this plan, but cold and hunger were nibbling on
his people and so they surrendered to General Crook at the Red Cloud
Agency in Nebraska.
That was on May 6, 1877.
The Death of Crazy
Crook took Crazy Horse prisoner and brought
him to Fort Robinson. In the fort, Crazy Horse was stabbed to death.
Nobody really knows what exactly happened.
Larry McMurtry mentions in
his book that Crazy Horse got a hair cut the day
before he was stabbed. Thus, so McMurtry, he could have easily been mistaken for
One of several theories.
Crazy Horse - His
Family and Friends
Contemporaries mention Crazy Horse's light complexion, something we would
have liked for his mother to explain, but apparently
nobody asked her, of if they did, they didn't put it on
Speaking of Crazy Horse's mother: She was of the Brulé branch
of the Sioux and the sister of Spotted Tail.
Crazy Horse's father was the
Man Crazy Horse Senior.
When he was a child, Crazy Horse Jr.
was called Curly (light complexion + Curly = youtellme). Once the boy had his reputation established as a
seasoned warrior, Crazy Horse Senior passed on his name to his son.
After this name transfer, Crazy Horse
Senior decided his new name should be Worm.
Crazy Horse's brother was Little
Hawk. Crazy Horse's daughter was They-Are-Afraid-Of-Her.
She died of cholera.
Among others, Crazy Horse's friends were
and Lone Bear.
The girl of Crazy Horse's dreams was
Buffalo Woman, Red Cloud's niece, who was unfortunately married
to another guy, named No Water.
Married or not, Crazy Horse didn't
care because he was in love. He took Black Buffalo Woman and ran away
with her. No Water
was furious, tracked them down, and shot Crazy Horse in the jaw. The tribe
handled the incident by arranging for Crazy Horse to marry the decent woman
Black Shawl later died of tuberculosis. Crazy Horse's second wife was
Nellie Larrabee (or Laverie),
who was half Cheyenne and half French.
What Happened to Black
Author Larry McMurtry states in his
book Crazy Horse (1999, Penguin) page 72,
Woman's fourth child, a daughter, was notably light-skinned; perhaps
the child of Crazy Horse, she lived into the 1940s."
On we read on page 73,
"Very probably he [Crazy Horse] never quite
got over Black Buffalo Woman, about whose later life nothing is
How Did Crazy Horse Look Like?
We are a little short of Crazy Horse
photos, but this is how the majority described his looks: not tall,
not little, sharp features. The picture at the top of the page might or might not be Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse Sculpture
A sculpture was built in honor
of Crazy Horse in a town called Custer, of all names, in South
the link to the
Custer Chamber of Commerce.
And this is the link to the website
Horse Memorial in South Dakota. The site has a
live webcam. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski started blasting his
way into the Thunderhead Mountain in 1948 but died in 1982. His
family continues his art work.
The World's Largest Sculpture
Crazy Horse Books
There is Larry McMurtry's book Crazy Horse : A Penguin Lives Biography. Larry
is also the author of Lonesome Dove.
Then we have Ian Frazier's
There's also Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
and George E. Hyde's Red Cloud's Folk: A History