Thursday, September 25, 2008

Native American Warriors: Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse, or Thašuŋka Witko, was born on the southern part of the Cheyenne River in around 1842. Crazy Horse's father, a Lakota who was also named Crazy Horse (born 1810), passed the name to his son, taking the new name of Worm for himself thereafter. The mother of the younger Crazy Horse was Rattling Blanket Woman (born 1814), a Lakota as well. Rattling Blanket Woman was the daughter of Black Buffalo, the chief who met Lewis and Clark on the Bad River.

Crazy Horse was a brave and skilled warrior who showed his fighting skills at a young age. In 1864, after the Sand Creek Massacre of the Cheyenne in Colorado, the Lakota tribe joined forces with the Cheyenne against the U.S. Army. Crazy Horse was present at the Battle of Red Buttes and the Platte River Bridge Station in 1865 and was made a war leader. He then fought with Red Cloud in the 1865-68 war, playing a key role in destroying William J. Fetterman's brigade at Fort Phil Kearny in 1867. However, that victory did not stop the settlers from coming and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 opened the door of Lakota land to all that Crazy Horse fought to prevent.

Still, he continued to fight, leading a party of warriors in attacking a survey party sent into the Black Hills by General George Armstrong Custer in 1873. When the U.S. War Department ordered all Lakota onto reservations in 1876, Crazy Horse decided to lead a resistance, fighting in the War for the Black Hills of 1876-77. On June 17, 1876, he fought at the Battle of the Rosebud and a week later, joined forces with Sitting Bull and Chief Gall in the attack that destroyed Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. General Nelson Miles chased Crazy Horse and his men throughout the winter of 1876-77. On Jan. 8, 1877, his warriors fought their last major battle against the U.S. Cavalry at Wolf Mountain in the Montana Territory. On May 6 of that year, knowing that his people were weakened by cold and hunger, Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops at Camp Robinson in Nebraska.

In reaction to a rumor that Crazy Horse was planning an escape from his reservation, the Red Cloud Agency (Indian soldiers working for the U.S. government), Army troops and Indian police arrested the famous chief. When he discovered he was being taken to the post jail, Crazy Horse began pulling away from his guards and was either accidentally stabbed with a knife or was bayoneted by an army sentry, Private William Gentles. He died that night on September 5, 1877. After his death, his body was given to his elderly parents, who secretly buried the Sioux chief somewhere in the wilds near Nebraska’s Red Cloud Agency. Find out more about this Native American legend at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's one of my previously published poems rain dancing:

Eventually, A Horse

Or hailstorms to build split-level houses.
When both bells & birds stop. The big mouth
of a refrigerator. Or irony sitting on the
back porch. Girls with flowers to push broom.
The skinny sequoia in a newspaper. Lousy wig.
Lazy lock. A giant running backwards...

fistfuls of handy-wipes
doodles on a napkin

Trying to figure out the best way to
disguise a wish-bone.

One large alarm clock ticking
down the hole...

more sentimental rain
a self-indulgent cloud

I could donate my front door to science,
she teases, with her hand on the knob.

And you're about as natural as a freeway, I
reply, because I think the words hit & run.

You see how difficult gift-giving is?

Poem first published at:


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