The History of Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witko) was an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who struggled against the removal to an Indian reservation; his fight took part in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Crazy horse was born in the present-day Rapid City in 1840; the chief was against the removal to a reservation which was in the black hills. Crazy Horse married twice; he got married first to Black Buffalo Woman; he courted her, but she married another man. He was in love with her and asked her to marry him and escape from her husband when her husband found them; he was shot and got a permanent scar on his face. He later came to marry Black Shawl, Nellie Larrabee who bore him a daughter and they named her, (They Are Afraid of Her). After joining the Cheyenne forces in 1876, they executed an attack against General George Crook (who was at the time united with the sitting chief bull for the battle of little bighorn.) Crazy Horse got killed in a scuffle with the troops.
Crazy Horse is remembered for his unmatched skills in combat and also for the preservation of the culture of the Native Americans. He was also noted to be a shy man, he was aloof, modest and alone. However, he was known for his generosity to the poor and elderly; he loved small children too. He played a significant role in the resistance of George Armstrong alongside the likes of Sitting Bull. Crazy Horse’ name may have come from his father, whom some people claim passed on his name to his son when he portrayed signs of making a real warrior. It is said that in the early days, when Crazy Horse was a small boy, he pulled the crowd; he used to stand out among his peers. The young Crazy Horse was a different boy even from his looks, his fair skin and curly hair was nothing comparable to his age mates at that time. The looks of the Crazy Horse may have played a role in making the people distant him from the early days of his life till his death.
Crazy horse was born at the times when his people the Lakota, was facing a division from the Sioux. The Lakota people were the largest of the tribe, and they lived in a vast swath of land that from the river of Missouri to the Big Horn Mountains in the west. The Lakota people did not interact much with the whites. The number of the Lakota people gave them immense power, and in the early 1840s, this tribe was celebrating its peak of power in the region.
The 1850s came with a surprise for the people of Lakota. Life began to turn around against them; the white settlers began pushing towards the west in their thirsty search of gold, and also their huge appetite for the new frontier life. Tension built up as the resources started going down and could not sustain both the intruders and the natives. Military forts were set up, most of which were in the Great Plains. The white settlers continued streaming in, and exotic diseases started flowing, the native Indians suffered.
The climax of misfortune fell in 1854 in what came to be known as the Grattan Massacre. A troop of white men, led by Lieutenant Grattan John, went to the Sioux Camp and took captive men who had killed the settlers’ cow. Chief Conquering Bear denied giving in to the demand of the white people. That was the beginning of violence and murder. The white men killed the chief. The Warriors fought back fiercely and killed thirty white settlers alongside Grattan. The Grattan Massacre commenced the war between the Lakota people and the United States; the young Crazy Horse began what could be a lifelong hate and complete distrust on the whites.
Crazy Horse began playing major roles in the many battles with the United States, and conflicts continued rising among the two rivals. For example in The Fetterman Massacre, Crazy Horse led a troop of 80 men against William J. Fetterman. It was a complete defeat of William that they were embarrassed at their defeat. Crazy Horse was good at his skills; he liked concentrating on the weak points of his enemies. He was known to use tricks in combat as opposed to the styles of war in those days which got dominated by the use of excessive force and violence, and Crazy Horse fooled his opponents to a place where he has mastered and takes his time to do a clean job.
Crazy Horse was a man of not losing hope or stopping what he had started; he continued with his fights and battles even after the signing of the Treaty of Laramie. The treaty gave the Lakota people entitlement to the significant lands in the region, included was the coveted Black Hills territory which everyone was eyeing. Crazy Horse was a man of his kind; he mystically avoided injuries and death in battles. He was also one of the very uncompromising people when it came to dealing with the whites. He was also extremely secretive, refused to make any signing of documents and never allowed to get taken photographs. The main aim of his unbreakable spirit was to reclaim the life of his people when they were living in complete peace before the white men came to disrupt their peace in the vast plains of the Lakota people. When Gold was discovered, the United States government’s battle Department ordered the Lakota People to move to reservations.
Crazy Horse and Chief Sitting Bull refused to obey the orders of the United States troops. Crazy Horse led yet another battle against General George Crook and with success stopped the United States form moving towards sitting bull’s encampment. On the Little Bighorn River. After a week, Crazy Horse led a troop of his men together with Sitting Bull to kill Lieutenant. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, in the battle which came to be known as the Battle of Little Bighorn, The battle is one of the most famous of Crazy Horse ever, and which had ever in history been fought by Native Americans over the soldiers of The United States.
The United States hit back the Lakota people; they hit very hard with the aim of finishing the power of the Lakota; they wanted to fight and leave the Lakota vulnerable. (Edward, Kadlecek, 1981). Sitting Bull feared the anger of the United States and decided to flee along with this person towards Canada. Crazy Horse continued fighting without flinching.
Winter came, and food supplies were getting depleted. The followers of Crazy Horse starved and began abandoning him. It is also alleged that due to the popularity of Crazy Horse, some of his tribe's men did not like him, they were jealous of his popularity, fame and the respect that he had amassed from the great victories he had achieved in his life as a soldier. Some accounts observe that his life at the winter and hardships did not only result from lack of sufficient food, but also from betrayal by others who were jealous of him.
Another reason for the jealousy of his enemy was because the people were beginning to treat Crazy Horse like a god, they had started a dance called the Sun Dance, in the dance, the people offered offerings to Crazy Horse and danced, he could attend and just stood without dancing. Thus he was being treated exceptionally by the Kalona people, different from other men of the tribe who were warriors too. This made the people jealous of him, and they anticipated his failure (William, 2004). Crazy horse rode to The Fort Robinson in Nebraska and gave up because he had been weakened when his men left him. On the same time, on May 1877, he defied went against orders, of him leaving his sick wife to his parents. He was arrested.
Crazy Horse died after his detention, which he had not resisted much, he had been taken back to Fort Robinson were in a struggle with the soldiers, he was stabbed in the kidneys and succumbed to his pains. (Foyer, Garret, (1991). The cause of the fight is debatable; some accounts say that he was resisting arrest when he learned that his enemies intended to lock him in a guard house, he had also not wanted to be separated from his wife. On his deathbed, his father was on his side. It was on the 5th September of 1877 (Lumley, 1877).
Many years have passed, and the culture has changed many of the initial settings and activities that the people of Lakota did have been eroded with new ways of living; nevertheless, the memory of Crazy Horse remains up to date. A historic monument is being constructed for over 60 years now; since 1948. (Foyer, Garret, (1991). Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski is working on a statue of this great legend who proved to be an extraordinary soldier till his death. When the memorial is complete, it will be the largest ever sculpture ever made in the world.
Bray, Kingsley M. (2006). Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. pp. 144––146.
Bright, William (2004). Native American Place Names in the United States. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, p. 125
Eric Foyer and John A. Garret, (1991). The Reader’s Companion to American History. WEB. www.biography.com/people/crazy-horse.
Lumley, (1877). "The Death of Crazy Horse", New York Sun, September 14, 1877.
Edward Kadlecek and Mabell Kadlecek, (1981). To Kill An Eagle: Indian Views on the Last Days of Crazy Horse, 1981, p.40.