Chief Crazy Horse

Chief Crazy Horse is one of the warriors to have captured our minds with their awesome power and bravery. This Native American Indian was recognized as a visionary leader committed to preserving the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life.

As a kid, we mostly listen to ghost stories and cuddle up our mommies. But, exceptions are always there, for example the Crazy Horse, who epitomizes courage and fearlessness. Crazy horse, at the age of thirteen stole horses from the Crow Indians, and led his first war party before the age of twenty.

Crazy Horse was born in South Dakota on December 4, 1849 (though his date of birth and birth place are debatable). Interestingly, Crazy horses father’s name was also Crazy horse and he passed on the name to his son. His father was Oglala Lakota while his mother Rattling Blanket Woman, was Miniconjou Lakota.

Crazy horse was in the Brule camp when it was attacked by U.S troops during the Grattan massacre of 1854 at Fort Laramie, Nebraska territory. He also witnessed the death of the Sioux leader Conquering Bear that brought in a considerable change and led him to go against the Lakota custom of brandishing war paint or a war bonnet in battle.

Reputation as a warrior grew in a very short of span of time for Crazy Horse. On December 21, 1866 he led the Oglala contingent of a war party comprising 1,000 warriors, including members of the Cheyenne and Miniconjou tribes in an ambush of U.S. troops stationed at Fort Phil Kearny that came to be known as the Fetterman massacre.

Crazy Horse married Black Buffalo woman in 1870, who was already the wife of No water then. The two had eloped when No water was away from camp. According to Lakota custom a married woman was allowed to divorce her husband at any time. This move of theirs stripped off Crazy Horse’s title as shirt wearer (leader).

Again on June 17, 1876, a group of approximately 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse went in for a sudden attack against Brig. Gen. George Crook's force of 1,000 cavalry and infantry and 300 Crow and Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud.

Though the battle didn’t suffer human loss but it delayed Crook from joining up with the 7th cavalry under George A. Custer, ensuring Custer’s subsequent defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. On June 25, 1876, Custer's 7th Cavalry attacked the Lakota and Cheyenne village, which marked the beginning of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

On January 8, 1877, Crazy horse and his warriors fought their last major battle, the Battle of Wolf Mountain, with the United States Cavalry in the Montana Territory. On May 8 of that year, Crazy Horse surrendered to United States troops at Camp Robinson in Nebraska since he knew that his people were weakened by cold and hunger.

Crazy Horse was stabbed to death on September 5, 1877, and is being commemorated with the Crazy Horse memorial in South Dakota, a monument carved in the mountain. The name of Chief Crazy Horse will be forever linked with the names of brave Native Americans.

Joseph Paige 2006

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