September 5 – Crazy Horse Killed

Posted on September 5, 2013

In the foreground is the planned carving
of the Crazy Horse Memorial.

You can see in the background how much
has been carved in the first 65 years
of memorial-making!
The history of the interactions between Native Americans / Indians and white colonists, settlers, pioneers, and armies, is long and complex, with plenty of horrifying stories of massacres and broken promises and diseases (sometimes deliberately inflicted) and battles. 

People on both sides did terrible things!

But of course we all knew which side was decimated, which way of life was pretty much obliterated.

Today we contemplate the story of just one Indian dying – but he was a leader and hero to many.

Crazy Horse was a leader of the Oglala Lakota people. He took up arms against the U.S. government to fight against—well, so many things! I have read that Crazy Horse was fighting against the theft of the lands of his people. I have read that he was fighting against the threats to his people's way of life. But I also read that he was fighting against the U.S. because of a very specific massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. These groups were allies of the Lakota Oglala and also the Minneconjou, and all four groups of Native Americans banded together to fight their common enemy.

Little Big Horn
Have you heard of the Battle of Platte Bridge or the Battle of Red Buttes? How about the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand, or the Wagon Box Fight? Here's a battle you might have heard of: the Battle of Little Big Horn. Crazy Horse helped to defeat George Custer at that famous battle.

Despite his victories, Crazy Horse was fighting a losing war. And he decided to stop that war in order to protect his people. He went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska to surrender.

There are different accounts of Crazy Horse's death, so we are not sure about exactly what happened. It seems clear that there were some mistranslations and misunderstandings about what Crazy Horse had said at various times. Whether the mistranslations were deliberate or not, I couldn't say; however, the bad communications apprarently made some of the white army officials and guards suspicious and fearful of Crazy Horse. It may be that their suspicious, fearful treatment of him made Crazy Horse fight back. Even though he had just turned himself in, he may have been trying to escape, resisting arrest, or at least resisting mistreatment. One Indian named Little Big Man claims that Crazy Horse brandished two knives against the guards, and that he ended up stabbing himself! In the back. With a deep-thrust wound.

Yeah, that doesn't sound very likely to me, either. Anyway, 16 other eye-witnesses all claim that a guard stabbed Crazy Horse in the back with a bayonet. Historians aren't sure of the name of the guard—just as they aren't sure about much concerning this sad event.

This summer I visited Fort Robinson, in Nebraska, and I saw the simple memorial erected to Crazy Horse in the place where he was stabbed, and the write-up about him in the little cabin where he died.

I also saw the Crazy Huge memorial that is being carved out of a mountain in South Dakota, near Mount Rushmore. The monument will show Crazy Horse on his horse, pointing out over the lands that once belonged to the Lakota Oglala. There is a story that a white man once sarcastically asked Crazy Horse where all his lands were, now that whites had taken them, and that Crazy Horse pointed out over his ancestral lands and replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

The Crazy Horse memorial is so interesting! It was begun in 1948 by a Polish-American sculptor named Korczak Ziolkowski, at the request of a Lakota elder named Henry Standing Bear. Ziolkowski started the enormous project alone, but he ended up having ten kids, many of whom helped out on the project—and today, with Ziolkowski gone, seven out of the ten are still hard at work on the project their dad started 65 years ago!

The Crazy Horse Memorial is large!
If it ever gets done, it will no doubt
be the biggest sculpture on Earth!

The nose alone is 27 feet long!
Also on this date:

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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