History Podcasts

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse was born in about 1840. His father was a medicine man and his mother was the sister of Spotted Tail. A warrior of some distinction he fought with Red Cloud, leader of the Oglala Sioux, during the Indian Wars.

On 21st December, 1866, Captain W. J. Fetterman and an army column of 80 men, were involved in protecting a team taking wood to Fort Phil Kearny. Although under orders not to "engage or pursue Indians" Fetterman gave the orders to attack a group of Sioux warriors. The warriors ran away and drew the soldiers into a clearing surrounded by a much larger force. All the soldiers were killed in what became known as the Fetterman Massacre. Later that day the stripped and mutilated bodies of the soldiers were found by a patrol led by Captain Ten Eyck. Crazy Horse was one of those who took part in this massacre.

Crazy Horse and his men continued to attack soldiers trying to protect the Bozeman Trail. On 2nd August, 1867, several thousand Sioux and Cheyenne attacked a wood-cutting party led by Captain James W. Powell. The soldiers had recently been issued with Springfield rifles and this enabled them to inflict heavy casualties on the warriors. After a battle that lasted four and a half hours, the Native Americans withdrew. Six soldiers died during the fighting and Powell claimed that his men had killed about 60 warriors.

Despite this victory the army was unable to successfully protect the Bozeman Trail and on 4th November, 1868, Red Cloud and 125 chiefs were invited to Fort Laramie to discuss the conflict. As a result of these negotiations the American government withdrew the garrisons protecting the emigrants travelling along the trail to Montana. Red Cloud and his warriors then burnt down the forts.

In December, 1875 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs directed all Sioux bands to enter reservations by the end of January 1876. Sitting Bull, the spiritual leader of his people, refused to leave his hunting grounds. American Horse and Crazy Horse agreed and led his warriors north to join up with Sitting Bull.

In June 1876 Sitting Bull subjected himself to a sun dance. This ritual included fasting and self-torture. During the sun dance Sitting Bull saw a vision of a large number of white soldiers falling from the sky upside down. As a result of this vision he predicted that his people were about to enjoy a great victory.

On 17th June 1876, General George Crook and about 1,000 troops, supported by 300 Crow and Shoshone, fought against 1,500 members of the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes. The battle at Rosebud Creek lasted for over six hours. This was the first time that Native Americans had united together to fight in such large numbers.

General George A. Custer and 655 men were sent out to locate the villages of the Sioux and Cheyenne involved in the battle at Rosebud Creek. An encampment was discovered on the 25th June. It was estimated that it contained about 10,000 men, women and children. Custer assumed the numbers were much less than that and instead of waiting for the main army under General Alfred Terry to arrive, he decided to attack the encampment straight away.

Custer divided his men into three groups. Captain Frederick Benteen was ordered to explore a range of hills five miles from the village. Major Marcus Reno was to attack the encampment from the upper end whereas Custer decided to strike further downstream.

Reno soon discovered he was outnumbered and retreated to the river. He was later joined by Benteen and his men. Custer continued his attack but was easily defeated by about 4,000 warriors. At the battle of the Little Bighorn Custer and all his 264 men were killed. The soldiers under Reno and Benteen were also attacked and 47 of them were killed before they were rescued by the arrival of General Alfred Terry and his army.

The U.S. army now responded by increasing the number of the soldiers in the area. As a result Sitting Bull and his men fled to Canada, whereas Crazy Horse remained in Montana. He continued to lead attacks on settlers but on 22nd April, 1877, Crazy Horse and his followers, including his uncle, Little Hawk, surrendered to General George Crook at the Red Cloud Agency in Nebraska.

On 7th September, 1877, Crazy Horse was invited to a meeting at Fort Robinson. While there he was bayoneted by a soldier named William Gentles. He died later that night.

Between the years 1869-75 the pressure of advancing civilization was very great upon all sides. The hunters, prospectors, miners, and settlers were trespassing upon the lands granted to the Indians. It was generally believed that the Black Hills country possessed rich mineral deposits, and miners were permitted to prospect for mines. Surveying parties were allowed to traverse the country for routes upon which to construct railways, and even the government sent exploring expeditions into the Black Hills country, that reported evidences of gold fields. All this created great excitement on the part of the white people and a strong desire to occupy that country. At the same time it exasperated the Indians to an intense degree, until disaffection developed into open hostilities.

Spotted Tail was a strong character, a wise and really great chief. He would have been a statesman, diplomatist, or able governor if he had been a white man. Red Cloud had been a noted warrior, but at this time was conservative and diplomatic. Both of these hereditary chiefs remained friendly and counseled peace, but the war spirit prevailed. Crazy Horse was the incarnation of ferocity - a fierce, restless warrior, who had made a great reputation as a successful leader of raids and war parties, and had become, at the age of twenty-six, the recognized leader of the Ogalallas, the most warlike tribe of the Sioux Nation.

Crazy Horse did not remain long tranquil at Red Cloud Agency. He was a wily, desperate and ambitious savage, the terror of friends and foes alike. He found that he was a bigger man on the warpath than at the agencies, and this made him frantic. He formed a conspiracy to murder General Crook and Ins escort, but a friendly Indian warned the General just in time to prevent a tragedy. All the malcontents were to attend a council that was to have been held, wearing blankets under which the weapons of death would be concealed until Crazy Horse gave the signal for their use. He never got the opportunity. The friendly Indians conspired to kill the turbulent chief, and one of them, No Flesh - a noted Sioux of peculiar physical appearance - actually set out to assassinate Crazy Horse. The latter had gone to the Rosebud Agency, where the Brule Sioux chief, Spotted Tail, the ablest of Indian leaders, had him arrested by his scouts and sent back to Red Cloud. When confronted with the guard house, Crazy Horse drew his knife and fought desperately. Little Big Man, as great a scoundrel as ever took a scalp, pinned the chief in his arms. Some soldiers also interfered, and in the melee a bayonet was thrust into the side of Crazy Horse, who died hurling curses at the pale faces and the Sioux renegades.


Crazy Horse (tashunka witco)

Deep Ravine with 7th Cavalrymen and Warriors (LIBI_00754_18118)

There are few North American Indian names that call forth more instant recognition than that of Crazy Horse. He ranks high among the great warriors of American History. If we seek to know the historical Crazy Horse we will find the trail clouded by myth and legend. Crazy Horse died on the evening of September 5th, 1877. Because his death occurred soon after the end of the Sioux War of 1876-1877, he was not interviewed by journalists or historians. His life story was not recorded. Other well known Western Sioux personalities lived many years after the conflicts were over so that the opportunity existed to record their biographies.

The date and location of Crazy Horse's birth is in dispute. 1838 to 1840 are frequently mentioned as the years of his birth. He was born in or near the Black Hills of South Dakota. His father, was called Crazy Horse and his mothers, name was Rattle Blanket Woman. They were members of the Oglala Band of the Lakota Sioux.

As a young boy Crazy Horse was known as Curley Hair. Later he was renamed Horse On Sight. During a battle with the Arapahoes the young Crazy Horse showed bravery in the fight. As a result Crazy Horse the father, passed on his name to his son in honor of his war deed. The father would be known there after as Worm.

Young Crazy Horse was raised in the traditional way of all Lakota boys. Games played an important part in their development toward adulthood. War and hunting games helped mold them into defenders and providers for their family and tribe.

During his teens Crazy Horse would have very likely been initiated into intertribal warfare with rival tribes who lived close to the Lakota Sioux. He may have been in a village that was attacked by an enemy tribe or been part of a war party or horse stealing foray. What ever it was that motivated him, he developed into one of the most accomplished warriors of the Lakota and perhaps of all the American Indian tribes. The horse was an important and necessary animal to Plains Indian culture. The nomadic lifestyle of these people relied on the horse for transportation and pursuit of game. When Lakota boys were young they were given a pony so that they could begin to master horsemanship. This skill would be vital to their later success as warriors and hunters. It is reported that Worm changed his son's name from Curly to Horse on Sight when Curly at age ten captured a wild horse.

Crazy Horse probably had his first contact with non indians, as a youth, when his band of Oglalas was visited by fur trappers and traders. It is very probable that he contacted non indians when visiting trading posts or forts such as Fort Laramie along the Oregon Trail. He would be present and participating in the series of events that led to the Sioux War of 1876-1877, including the Battle of The Little Bighorn. All of these events beginning with the Grattan Affair of 1854 would mark the escalating conflict between indians and non indians for possession of the Northern Plains. Crazy Horse would play a key role in these events.

Important to the formation of a Lakota warrior was the experience of a vision. Visions were seen as guiding spiritual events necessary to success in life. Preparation to seeking a vision began with a purification ceremony. The seeker would frequently go to a secluded place for several days. Fasting accompanied by prayers could lead the supplicant to have a vision.

Crazy Horse had a formative vision as a teenager. More is known of the content of the experience then where or when it happened. In the young Crazy Horse's vision, a man appeared to him on horseback. The mounted man rose out of a lake and as he approached Crazy Horse he was floating above the ground and his appearance was changing color. The man was dressed in very plain garments. In his long hair he wore a single Eagle feather and his face was not adorned with paint. A small stone was tied behind one of his ears. The Man's voice was heard but he was not speaking with his mouth. The man's instructions to Crazy Horse was that he was not to wear a war bonnet or to tie up his horse's tail, (tying up the tail was a common Lakota practice). Before going into battle Crazy Horse was to rub dust over his body. His death was not to come at the hands of an enemy or as the result of a bullet. He was never to take trophies.in battle. As the man in the vision was talking he was brushing off attacking enemies and riding through showers of arrows and bullets which never reached the floating man. People were holding the man back but he was able to free himself and move away. The man in the vision was caught in a violent storm and lightening appeared on his cheek and hailstones on his body. The man's people gathered about him after the storm subsided. A Hawks voice could be heard above the man as his people held him back then the dream.

Crazy Horse never wore elaborate clothing. Instead of wearing a headdress he attached a single Eagle feather to his hair. When going into battle he painted a lightning symbol on his face and also carried a small stone tied to his upper body.

As Crazy Horse matured , his stature as a warrior grew. His reputation as a warrior was widely admired among the Lakota. Crazy Horse figured in many of the clashes resulting from the collision of the westward movement with American Indians as that movement advanced across the continent. His name was connected to the major campaigns of the U.S. Army against the Lakota The Powder River Campaign of 1865, The Red Cloud War of 1866-1867, and The Sioux War of 1876-1877. In the Fetterman Fight (1866), The Battle of the Rosebud (1876), The Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), and The Wolf Mountain Fight, he assumed a leading role.

Following the Battle of The Little Bighorn, the bands of Lakota and the Cheyenne who were present at the battle began to scatter. The Cavalry and Infantry commands fielded by the U.S. Army continued to track the dispersed bands, attempting to drive them back to the Great Sioux Reservation. Crazy Horse along with tribesmen eventually turned themselves over to the military authorities in May of 1877. Crazy Horse died in 1877, but he still seen as a mythic figure to the modern Sioux. Little is known of Crazy Horse's early years except that he was born near Rapid Creek on the eastern side of the Black Hills about 1840. There is no authenticated sketch or photograph of Crazy Horse, but he had been described as possessing fair skin with soft, light-colored hair. This young Oglala, whose mother was Spotted Tail's sister, played a decisive role in many battles with the United States Army. In 1854, along the Oregon Trail in Wyoming, a Brule' warrior had killed a cow belonging to a Mormon immigrant. When the immigrant complained to the army, 2nd Lieutenant John Grattan was sent from Fort Laramie with a small detachment to arrest the guilty individual. The situation exploded when Grattan's detail fired upon the people in the Lakota Sioux village. Conquering Bear, a chief, was fatally wounded. Warriors attacked Grattan's force, and killed every soldier within a few minutes. Crazy Horse, who observed this action, was influenced by what he saw and it would affect his future actions. He signed no treaties, avoided the ways of the white men, and spurned reservation life.

By his mid-teens, Crazy Horse was a full-fledged warrior. His skills in battle made him much admired by the members of his own band. Crazy Horse frequently engaged in battle with U.S. Army forces, helping to defeat Captain Fetterman and his 80 men on December 21, 1866. Crazy Horse courted Red Cloud's niece, Black Buffalo Woman. While he was on a raid, another Oglala man who had also been courting Black Buffalo Woman returned to camp and took the girl as his wife. This incident created animosity between the two men that lasted until Crazy Horse's death.

On December 6, 1875 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs declared that all free roaming bands of Lakota Sioux must return to their reservation by January 31, 1876. Crazy Horse did not respond to this ultimatum, and joined in the resistance to the military enforcement of the ultimatum. On June 17, 1876, along with more than 1,200 warriors, Crazy Horse helped defeat General George Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud. Eight days later he helped defeat the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Crazy Horse, who refused to go on a reservation or flee to Canada as others were doing, set up winter camp on the Tongue River in south-central Montana Territory. He attacked Colonel Nelson Miles' force on January 8, 1877 but was not successful in defeating the army. The relentless pursuit by the military, combined with the check at the Battle of Wolf Mountain, convinced Crazy Horse that surrender was inevitable. On May 7, 1877 Crazy Horse led 1,100 followers into Fort Robinson to surrender.

At Fort Robinson and the Red Cloud Agency, old rivalries and misunderstandings between military officers and various Lakota Sioux personalities, and Crazy Horse erupted into open animosity. Crazy Horse was to be arrested to prevent continued disruption, and in the ensuing scuffle, Crazy Horse was mortally stabbed. He died on the evening of September 5, 1877.

Tashunka Witco (Crazy Horse)

There are few North American Indian names that call forth more instant recognition than that of Crazy Horse. He ranks high among the great warriors of American History. If we seek to know the historical Crazy Horse we will find the trail clouded by myth and legend. Crazy Horse died on the evening of September 5th, 1877. Because his death occurred soon after the end of the Sioux War of 1876-1877, he was not interviewed by journalists or historians. His life story was not recorded. Other well known Western Sioux personalities lived many years after the conflicts were over so that the opportunity existed to record their biographies.

The date and location of Crazy Horse's birth is in dispute. 1838 to 1840 are frequently mentioned as the years of his birth. He was born in or near the Black Hills of South Dakota. His father, was called Crazy Horse and his mothers, name was Rattle Blanket Woman. They were members of the Oglala Band of the Lakota Sioux.

As a young boy Crazy Horse was known as Curley Hair. Later he was renamed Horse On Sight. During a battle with the Arapahoes the young Crazy Horse showed bravery in the fight. As a result Crazy Horse the father, passed on his name to his son in honor of his war deed. The father would be known there after as Worm.


Contents

Early years Edit

The band's origins date to 1963 and the Los Angeles-based a cappella doo-wop group Danny & the Memories, which consisted of lead singer Danny Whitten and supporting vocalists Lou Bisbal (soon to be replaced by Bengiamino Rocco, the husband of actress Lorna Maitland), Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina.

Sly Stone produced a single for the group (by then re-christened the Psyrcle) in San Francisco on Lorna Records (a subsidiary of Autumn Records) however, it did not sell very well either regionally or nationally.

Back in Los Angeles, the group evolved over the course of several years into the Rockets, a psychedelic pop/folk rock ensemble that juxtaposed the rudimentary instrumental abilities of Whitten (rhythm guitar), Talbot (bass) and Molina (drums) against the more accomplished Bobby Notkoff (violin) and Leon Whitsell (lead guitar). After leaving the group as sessions for their first album commenced, the mercurial and reclusive Whitsell was promptly replaced by his younger brother George, a R&B-influenced guitarist also respected in the band's social circle. After Leon petitioned to return, it was decided that both Whitsells would remain in the group.

This sextet recorded the Rockets' only album, a self-titled set released in 1968 on White Whale Records. Whitten and Leon Whitsell contributed four songs apiece, with one song credited to Talbot and Molina and another ("Pill's Blues," the group's unofficial anthem) to George Whitsell. Whitten's "Let Me Go" was prominently covered by Three Dog Night on their 1968 debut during this period, vocalist Danny Hutton considered recruiting Whitten for that band.

With Neil Young, 1968–1970 Edit

Although their album sold only about 5,000 copies, the Rockets soon re-connected with Neil Young, whom they had met two years earlier during the early days of Buffalo Springfield. In August 1968, three months after Buffalo Springfield dissolved, Young jammed with the group during a Rockets performance at the Whisky a Go Go Molina would later recall that Young's idiosyncratically distinctive guitar style "blew George Whitsell's away. He was kind of overshadowed."

Shortly thereafter, Young enlisted Whitten, Talbot, and Molina to back him on his second solo album. Although all parties initially envisaged the Rockets continuing as a separate concern, the older band soon folded due to Young's insistence on having his new backing trio keep to a strict practice schedule. According to George Whitsell, "My understanding was Neil was gonna use the guys for a record and a quick tour, bring 'em back and help us produce the next Rockets album. It took me a year and a half to realize that my band had been taken."

Credited to Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was released in May 1969. A sleeper hit that peaked at No. 34 in the United States in August 1970 during a ninety-eight week chart stay, [1] it included the American No. 55 pop hit "Cinnamon Girl" and the extended guitar workouts "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand" alongside country and folk-influenced songs such as "Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)," a tribute to the defunct band featuring a guest appearance by Notkoff.

Crazy Horse toured with Young throughout the first half of 1969 and, with the addition of frequent Young collaborator Jack Nitzsche on electric piano, in early 1970. That year's tour was showcased on the 2006 album Live at the Fillmore East. Young would later opine that "[on] some of the stuff, Nitzsche was in the way, tonally. Crazy Horse was so good with the two guitars, bass and drums it didn't need anything else." [2] Although Nitzsche openly disdained the rhythm section of Talbot and Molina, he retrospectively lauded Whitten (who was of Scotch-Irish American ancestry) as "the only black man in the band." [3]

Shortly after beginning work on his third solo album with Crazy Horse in 1969 (including an unreleased take of Whitten's "Look at All the Things" and a performance of Young's "Helpless" that failed to make it to tape due to an engineering error), Young joined Crosby, Stills & Nash as a full fourth member, recording an album and touring with the ensemble in 1969 and 1970. [4] When Young returned to his solo album in 1970, Crazy Horse found its participation more limited. Aside from overdubbed backing vocals, the group as a whole appears on just three of the eleven tracks on After the Gold Rush: "When You Dance I Can Really Love" (recorded toward the end of the album's recording sessions, the majority of which included Ralph Molina in a semi-acoustic quartet with erstwhile CSNY bassist Greg Reeves and multi-instrumentalist Nils Lofgren) plus a cover of Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" and "I Believe In You" from the 1969 sessions. [5] Young "fired" the group in the aftermath of the 1970 tour due to Whitten's escalating heroin abuse (partially attributable to the rhythm guitarist's severe rheumatoid arthritis) following an incapacitated performance at one of the Fillmore East performances according to Molina, Whitten also felt that Young was "holdin' him back" as a guitarist and songwriter. [6]

With and without Young, 1970–1989 Edit

Crazy Horse capitalized on its newfound exposure and recorded its eponymous debut album for Reprise Records that year. The band retained Nitzsche (who co-produced the album with Bruce Botnick) and added Lofgren as a second guitarist singer-songwriter and guitarist Ry Cooder also sat in on three tracks at the behest of Nitzsche to deputize for the ailing Whitten. Although the album peaked at only No. 84 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1971, Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It" would later be covered by a wide range of artists, including Geoff Muldaur, the Indigo Girls, Pegi Young and Rod Stewart. Stewart would record the song three times and score a hit with it on the same number of occasions, most notably as a UK No. 1 double A-side in 1977 with Cat Stevens's "The First Cut Is the Deepest." In 1988, the song would become a Top Ten hit in the UK again, this time a No. 3 for Everything but the Girl. Two songs from the album were covered by Scottish hard rock band Nazareth: Lofgren's "Beggar's Day" appeared on Hair of the Dog (1975), while Nitzsche's "Gone Dead Train" is the second track on Expect No Mercy (1977).

Following the commercial failure of Crazy Horse, Lofgren and Nitzsche left the group to pursue solo careers meanwhile, Whitten's drug problems pushed Talbot and Molina to dismiss him and turn to outside musicians. The band released two albums on different labels (Loose and At Crooked Lake) to critical and commercial indifference in 1972 along with Talbot and Molina, guitarist/singer-songwriter Greg Leroy was the only musician to appear on both albums. While the former saw Rockets guitarist George Whitsell briefly return to the fold, fronting the band in conjunction with Leroy and keyboardist John Blanton, the latter was dominated by the roots rock stylings of Rick and Mike Curtis, formerly of These Vizitors and best known for their later work as the Curtis Brothers.

Concurrently, Young placed Whitten on retainer in the fall of 1972 with a view toward including the guitarist in his new touring band, the Stray Gators. However, following his poor performance in rehearsals at Dress Review Sound Studio in Hollywood, the band pressured Young to dismiss him. Although Young let Whitten live on his ranch near Woodside, California and worked with him one-on-one during off-hours in an unsuccessful effort to keep him in the group, Whitten died several hours after returning to Los Angeles, his death attributed to a fatal overdose of alcohol and Valium. [7]

After Whitten's death and the tepid reception accorded to both albums, Talbot and Molina were the only full-fledged members of the band. They let the Crazy Horse name go unused while resolving not to retire it altogether. In mid-1973, Young brought together a band comprising Talbot, Molina, Lofgren, and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith to record Tonight's the Night, the majority of which eventually saw release in bowdlerized form with additional material added in 1975. In the autumn of 1973, that ensemble (initially billed as Crazy Horse for the inaugural concerts at the Roxy in September 1973) toured Canada, Great Britain, and the United States as the Santa Monica Flyers. Molina and Whitsell would subsequently contribute percussion and guitar (respectively) to Young's On the Beach in 1974.

Shortly after aborted Young sessions involving Talbot, Molina and Keith at Chicago's Chess Studios in late 1974, the band spontaneously reconvened (sans the pedal steel guitarist) at Talbot's Echo Park home in 1975. These jam sessions cemented the role of rhythm guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, a friend of Talbot who began to play with the group (to the initial chagrin of Molina) during the Chicago excursion and proved to be just the right person to help resurrect Crazy Horse. "It was great," Talbot would say of the gathering and the chemistry it evoked. "We were all soaring. Neil loved it. We all loved it. It was the first time we heard the Horse since Danny Whitten died." [8] After a five-year hiatus Neil Young and Crazy Horse was born again, and Young marked the occasion by finishing off the lyrics to "Powderfinger", soon to become one of the new lineup's signature songs.

With Sampedro and producer David Briggs in tow, Young and Crazy Horse quickly recorded Zuma later that year in the basement of Briggs' rented house in Malibu, initiating their most prolific period of collaboration. Sampedro's lack of technical proficiency ("Neil kept writin' simpler songs so I could play them") and desire to see Young "rockin' and having fun and seeing chicks' asses swaying in the audience" would greatly inform the tenor of the record.

Following a warmup tour of unannounced engagements at various San Francisco Bay Area bars (ironically dubbed the Rolling Zuma Revue in contrast to Bob Dylan's contemporaneous Rolling Thunder Revue) in December 1975, Young and the band toured Japan and Europe in March–April 1976. However, they were shut out of a proposed summer stadium tour when Young re-kindled his collaboration with Stephen Stills. They toured America that autumn when Young was forced to make up a series of canceled concert dates after walking out midway through the tour with Stills. From late 1975 to 1977, Young recorded feverishly in various solo and group configurations Crazy Horse appears on all but two songs of 1977's country-inflected American Stars 'n Bars (with many tracks featuring an augmented lineup that included Ben Keith, Carole Mayedo, Linda Ronstadt, and Nicolette Larson), while Comes a Time features two performances with Crazy Horse: "Look Out for My Love" and the Fleetwood Mac-inspired "Lotta Love".

In 1978, Crazy Horse released Crazy Moon, their fourth original album. It features instrumental contributions from Young, Bobby Notkoff, Greg Leroy and Michael Curtis. Later that year, they joined Young on the tour that led to the successful Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust, both credited to Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

As Young spent much of the eighties working in genres mostly outside the band's idiom, Crazy Horse recorded with him more sporadically, appearing only on Re·ac·tor, an unspecified portion of Trans, and Life. Sessions for a planned 1984 album with the band ended after they were "spooked" by the addition of a professional horn section, although a bootleg of a performance at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz containing many of the intended songs remains an enduring fan favorite.

Several years later, Young included all three members of Crazy Horse in another horn-driven ensemble, the Bluenotes. But when Talbot and Molina proved ill-suited to a blues-oriented approach, Young reluctantly replaced the Crazy Horse bassist and drummer while retaining Sampedro, who would remain with Young in various band permutations over the next two years. Immediately thereafter, Talbot and Molina hired former Rain Parade lead guitarist Matt Piucci and recruited songwriter Sonny Mone from Hanover, Massachusetts to provide lead vocals and rhythm guitar. This incarnation of the band recorded the pointedly-titled Left for Dead (1989) and filmed a music video for the song "Child of War".

With and without Young, 1990–2004 2012-2014 2018-present Edit

The split with Sampedro and Young proved relatively short-lived, as the duo reunited with Talbot and Molina under the Crazy Horse imprimatur in 1990 for the acclaimed album Ragged Glory and for a tour in 1991 that generated the live album Weld. Over the next 12 years, Crazy Horse would steadily collaborate with Young once more, joining the singer for Sleeps with Angels (1994), Broken Arrow (1996), the live Year of the Horse (1997), "Goin' Home" on Are You Passionate? (2002), and Greendale (2003). Sampedro agreed to sit out the recording of Greendale, as Young felt the material called for only one guitar he joined the band on guitar and organ for the ensuing tours of 2003 and 2004.

According to Jimmy McDonough, Crazy Horse had begun a sixth album of its own in the mid-1990s, but left the project unfinished when Young called upon the group to join him for some secret club dates in California (for which the quartet billed themselves as the Echoes), leading to the recording of Broken Arrow. [9] Young and Crazy Horse attempted to record for three months in San Francisco in 2000 few takes were finished to the band's satisfaction, and Young re-recorded most of the material with Booker T. & the M.G.'s for Are You Passionate?. Toast, an album culled from the San Francisco sessions, was announced for imminent release in 2008 as part of Young's Archives series as of 2020, it remains unreleased.

Crazy Horse remained on hiatus for eight years following the Greendale tour. Although Sampedro was employed as a full-time assistant to Kevin Eubanks on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2010, the band continued to rehearse several times a year and more intermittently with Young during this period. [10] Trick Horse—a collection of hitherto unreleased non-Young recordings possibly derived from older Sampedro-funded sessions where session musicians were hired to play the instrumental parts, enabling the band to focus on their vocal performances—was released on iTunes in 2009. [11] According to Young in a 2011 interview with American Songwriter, "They have to be together before I can be together with them. They haven't been doing anything together, so they need to be able to do it. I don't have the time to support things. I have to go with things that are going to support me. But I think they can do it."

Shortly thereafter, Neil Young and Crazy Horse convened to release two albums in 2012. Americana was composed almost entirely of covers of American folk music revival songs and singer-songwriter standards, while Psychedelic Pill featured original Neil Young songs written for the band. Neil Young and Crazy Horse toured throughout 2012 and 2013 in support of both albums, traveling to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

In 2013, Talbot, Molina, George Whitsell and lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan James Holzer formed Wolves. They released their first recording, Wolves EP, on February 16, 2014. [12]

With the addition of background singers Dorene Carter and YaDonna West, Young and Crazy Horse also embarked on a summer 2014 European tour following a solo Young American tour spanning the winter and spring. For the tour, longtime Young collaborator Rick Rosas stood in for Talbot, who was recovering from a minor stroke. Rosas died from pulmonary hypertension with cardiac arrest on November 8, less than three months after the tour concluded.

In May 2018, Lofgren joined Young, Talbot and Molina for a series of five "open rehearsal" concerts in Fresno, California and Bakersfield, California. Initially billed as Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the group (characterized by Young as the "Horse of a Different Color") ultimately performed as NYCH. [13] According to Young, "Life is an unfolding saga [. ] Poncho is unable to join us right now but we all hope he will be back." [14] In 2021, Sampedro confirmed that he has retired from music due to complications from arthritis in both wrists and a 2013 finger injury: "It became painful for me to be on the road. When we were on that last tour [in 2014], I was rolling down the road with both of my hands in ice buckets and one foot in an ice bucket, every night. That’s really not that much fun. Then I got my finger slammed in the door [on the 2013 European tour]. There were too many signs saying it was over for me. It wasn't for any other reason. [. ] I was messing things up on the last tour during the early songs in the set. I just couldn’t slide my fingers the way I used to when I played those lines." [15]

In February 2019, the Lofgren-era lineup performed two shows in Winnipeg. Its first album, Colorado, was credited to Neil Young and Crazy Horse and released in October 2019.

The self-titled debut album was re-issued on CD in 1994. In 2005, Rhino Records' Handmade division released the two-disc set, Scratchy: The Complete Reprise Recordings, in a limited edition of 2,500 copies. It included re-mastered versions of the debut album and their second, Loose in their entirety on the first disc, with the second disc containing nine rarities and out-takes (including both sides of a 1962 single by Danny and the Memories). The original set is currently out of print, but was re-issued on Rhino in England and Wounded Bird in the United States. Loose was also re-issued as a stand-alone CD by Wounded Bird in 2006. The Australian re-issue specialty label Raven Records put out Crazy Moon in 1999 with seven rare bonus tracks, as well as a 20-track retrospective in 2005, Gone Dead Train: The Best of Crazy Horse 1971–1989, featuring material from each of the group's five albums, with the exception of its second one, Loose. Left for Dead was released in 1995 on the Sisapa/Curb label, and Crazy Moon was re-issued on CD again as a BMG import in 2005. At Crooked Lake was re-issued in 2013 on the Floating World label.


Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witko) was known among his people as a farsighted chief, committed to safeguarding the tradition and principles of the Sioux (Lakota) way of life. Distinguished by his fierceness in battle, he was a great general who led his people in a war against the invasion of their homeland by the white man. As a fierce enemy, Crazy Horse summoned the anger, fear — and respect — of the U.S. Government and its army. Birth and childhood Crazy Horse was born in 1844 at Bear Butte, possibly on the Belle Fourche River east of Paha Sapa, also known as the Black Hills. The boy's name at birth was Curly. Curly's father, also named Crazy Horse, was an Oglala Lakota, and his mother, Rattling Blanket Woman*, was a Brulè Lakota. Curly also had a sister and a half-brother. Rattling Blanket Woman died when he was young. His father took her sister as a wife and she helped to rear Curly. He spent time in both the Oglala and Brulè camps. Curly’s boyhood was in the days when the western Sioux seldom saw a white man, and then it was usually a trader or a soldier. Curly was groomed according to tribal customs. At that period, the Sioux prided themselves on the training and development of their sons and daughters, and they did not overlook a step in that development. Before he was 12, Curly had killed a buffalo and received his own horse. On August 19, 1854, he was in Conquering Bear ’s camp in northern Wyoming when that Brulè leader was killed in the Grattan Massacre, a bloody dispute between Indians and soldiers over a butchered cow. The way of the warrior was a societal role preordained for males in traditional Lakota life. Following the Grattan Massacre, Curly, like other young men, set out alone on a Vision Quest. He was not disappointed: The boy had a vivid dream of a rider in a storm on horseback, with long, unbraided hair, a small stone in his ear, zigzag lightning decorating his cheek, and hail dotting his body. Although a warrior, he bore no scalps. People clutched at the rider, but could not hold him. The storm abated, and a red-backed hawk flew over the rider’s head. When Curly reported the dream to his father, and the medicine man was consulted, the latter interpreted it as a sign of his son’s future greatness in battle. The following year, Curly witnessed the destruction of Sioux tepees and possessions by soldiers during General William Harney’s punitive crusade through Sioux territory along the Oregon Trail. During his formative years, Curly experienced several more revelations about white people, stemming from incidents involving the U.S. Army. One such incident involved a retaliation in which the army wiped out most of an unsuspecting Lakota village, killing women and children as well as warriors. Early career At the age of 16, Curly joined a war party against the Gros Ventres, an offshoot of the Arapaho. He rode well in the front of the charge, and immediately established his bravery by closely following Hump, one of the foremost Sioux warriors — drawing the enemy's fire and circling around their advance guard. Suddenly Hump's horse was shot from under him, and a rush of warriors converged to kill or capture him while down. Nevertheless, amidst a shower of arrows, the youth leaped from his pony, helped his friend into his own saddle, sprang up behind him, and carried him off to safety — the enemy hotly pursued them. Elder Crazy Horse took the name, Worm, after passing his name to his courageous son when he was about 18 years old. For the first time, at that age, Crazy Horse rode as an adult warrior in a raid on Crows. Like the rider in his dream, he wore his hair free, a stone earring, and a headdress with a red hawk feather in it. His face was painted with a lightning bolt, and his body bore hail-like dots. The raid was successful, but Crazy Horse sustained a wound in the leg. According to his father's interpretation, he had taken two scalps — unlike the rider in the vision. Marriages and later career Crazy Horse had three wives during his lifetime, Black Buffalo Woman, Black Shawl, and Nellie Laravie. The warrior became further known to many of the Sioux bands for his courage in the War for the Bozeman Trail of 1866-68 under the Oglala Chief Red Cloud, when the army began to build a road in Powder River country from the Oregon Trail to the goldfields of Montana. He was one of the young chiefs, along with the Miniconjou Hump and the Hunkpapas Chief Gall, and Chief Rain-in-the-Face, who used decoy tactics against the soldiers. Near Fort Phil Kearny, in what is now northcentral Wyoming, Crazy Horse participated in the Indian victory known as the Fetterman Fight. In December 1866, Crazy Horse acted as a decoy leader helping to lure Lt. Colonel William J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny into a trap, then utter defeat by Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors. Owing to such deeds, Crazy Horse became a war leader by his mid-twenties. Chief Sitting Bull looked to him as a principal war leader. In fact, he was one of the youngest Lakota men in memory to receive one of the highest honors and responsibilities accorded to males: the title of Shirtwearer. Crazy Horse honed his skills as a guerrilla fighter and studied the ways of his military adversaries. When Red Cloud and Chief Spotted Tail settled on reservation lands following the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, in which the army agreed to abandon the posts along the Bozeman Trail, Crazy Horse became war chief of the Oglalas, with some Brulè followers as well. Moreover, he gained friends and followers among the Northern Cheyennes through his first marriage to Black Buffalo Woman, a Cheyenne. In March 1876, when General George Crook's scouts discovered an Indian trail, he sent a detachment under Colonel Joseph Reynolds to locate an Indian camp along the Powder River in southeastern Montana. At dawn on March 17, Reynolds ordered a charge. The Indians retreated to surrounding bluffs and fired at the troops, who burned the village and rounded up the Indian horses. Crazy Horse regrouped his warriors and, during a snowstorm that night, recaptured the herd. On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led a combined group of approximately 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne in a surprise attack against General George Crook's force of 1,000 cavalry and infantry, and 300 Crow and Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud. Repeated assaults forced Crook’s troops to retreat. The battle delayed Crook from reinforcing the 7th Cavalry under George A. Custer. After the successful engagement, the Indians then moved their camp to the Bighorn River to join Chief Sitting Bull's large encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne. Eight days later, on the Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn) River, he led Lakota and Cheyenne warriors again in a decisive victory against George Custer's 7th Cavalry. On the 25th of June, 1876, the great camp was scattered for three miles or more along the level riverside. Behind a thin line of cottonwoods stood five circular groups of teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in circumference. Here and there stood a prominent, white, solitary teepee these were the lodges or "clubs" of the young men. Crazy Horse was a member of the Strong Hearts and the Fox (Tokala) lodge. He was watching a game of ring toss, when a warning came from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops. Although taken by surprise, they instantly responded. Crazy Horse led his men northward to cut off Custer and his troops. Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, a chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux, led their warriors in a pincer attack that quickly enveloped Custer's divided cavalry. There would be reprisals. Latter days When the nomadic hunting bands ignored the order to report to their reservations by January 31, 1876, the military organized a pogrom against them. The next autumn and winter, Colonel Nelson A. Miles led the 5th Infantry in a ruthless pursuit of the Indian bands, wearing them down and making it difficult for them to obtain food. Crazy Horse received word that if he surrendered, his people would have a reservation of their own in the Powder River country. On May 8, he knew too well that his people were weakened by cold and hunger, so he surrendered to United States soldiers at Fort Robinson on the Red Cloud Agency in northwestern Nebraska. In September 1877, Crazy Horse's wife became critically ill, and Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy went to his camp to treat her. Crazy Horse then decided to take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency. He left the reservation without permission, so General Crook, fearing that he was plotting a return to battle, ordered him to be arrested. Crazy Horse did not resist arrest at first, but when he realized that he was being led to a guardhouse, he began to struggle, and while one of the arresting officers held his arms, a soldier ran him through with a bayonet. Crazy Horse had signed no treaties, and he surrendered only because he did not want his followers to suffer depravation, cold, and hunger. Except for Gall and Sitting Bull, he was the last important chief to yield.


Legends of America

By Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa) in 1918

Crazy Horse was born on the Republican River about 1845. He was killed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in 1877, so that he lived barely thirty-three years.

He was an uncommonly handsome man. While not the equal of Gall in magnificence and imposing stature, he was physically perfect, an Apollo in symmetry. Furthermore he was a true type of Indian refinement and grace. He was modest and courteous as Chief Joseph the difference is that he was a born warrior, while Joseph was not. However, he was a gentle warrior, a true brave, who stood for the highest ideal of the Sioux [Lakota.] Notwithstanding all that biased historians have said of him, it is only fair to judge a man by the estimate of his own people rather than that of his enemies.

The boyhood of Crazy Horse was passed in the days when the western Sioux saw a white man but seldom, and then it was usually a trader or a soldier. He was carefully brought up according to the tribal customs.

At that period the Sioux prided themselves on the training and development of their sons and daughters, and not a step in that development was overlooked as an excuse to bring the child before the public by giving a feast in its honor. At such times the parents often gave so generously to the needy that they almost impoverished themselves, thus setting an example to the child of self-denial for the general good. His first step alone, the first word spoken, first game killed, the attainment of manhood or womanhood, each was the occasion of a feast and dance in his honor, at which the poor always benefited to the full extent of the parents’ ability.

Big-heartedness, generosity, courage, and self-denial are the qualifications of a public servant, and the average Indian was keen to follow this ideal. As every one knows, these characteristic traits become a weakness when he enters a life founded upon commerce and gain. Under such conditions the life of Crazy Horse began. His mother, like other mothers, tender and watchful of her boy, would never once place an obstacle in the way of his father’s severe physical training. They laid the spiritual and patriotic foundations of his education in such a way that he early became conscious of the demands of public service.

He was perhaps four or five years old when the band was snowed in one severe winter. They were very short of food, but his father was a tireless hunter. The buffalo, their main dependence, were not to be found, but he was out in the storm and cold every day and finally brought in two antelopes.

The little boy got on his pet pony and rode through the camp, telling the old folks to come to his mother’s teepee for meat. It turned out that neither his father nor mother had authorized him to do this. Before they knew it, old men and women were lined up before the teepee home, ready to receive the meat, in answer to his invitation. As a result, the mother had to distribute nearly all of it, keeping only enough for two meals.

On the following day the child asked for food. His mother told him that the old folks had taken it all, and added: “Remember, my son, they went home singing praises in your name, not my name or your father’s. You must be brave. You must live up to your reputation.”

Crazy Horse loved horses, and his father gave him a pony of his own when he was very young. He became a fine horseman and accompanied his father on buffalo hunts, holding the pack horses while the men chased the buffalo and thus gradually learning the art. In those days the Sioux had but few guns, and the hunting was mostly done with bow and arrows.

Another story told of his boyhood is that when he was about twelve he went to look for the ponies with his little brother, whom he loved much, and took a great deal of pains to teach what he had already learned. They came to some wild cherry trees full of ripe fruit, and while they were enjoying it, the brothers were startled by the growl and sudden rush of a bear.

Young Crazy Horse pushed his brother up into the nearest tree and himself sprang upon the back of one of the horses, which was frightened and ran some distance before he could control him. As soon as he could, however, he turned him about and came back, yelling and swinging his lariat over his head. The bear at first showed fight but finally turned and ran. The old man who told me this story added that young as he was, he had some power, so that even a grizzly did not care to tackle him. I believe it is a fact that a silver-tip will dare anything except a bell or a lasso line, so that accidentally the boy had hit upon the very thing which would drive him off.

Crazy Horse, Sacred Warrior

It was usual for Sioux boys of his day to wait in the field after a buffalo hunt until sundown, when the young calves would come out in the open, hungrily seeking their mothers. Then these wild children would enjoy a mimic hunt, and lasso the calves or drive them into camp. Crazy Horse was found to be a determined little fellow, and it was settled one day among the larger boys that they would “stump” him to ride a good-sized bull calf. He rode the calf, and stayed on its back while it ran bawling over the hills, followed by the other boys on their ponies, until his strange mount stood trembling and exhausted.

At the age of sixteen he joined a war party against the Gros Ventres. He was well in the front of the charge, and at once established his bravery by following closely one of the foremost Sioux warriors, by the name of Hump, drawing the enemy’s fire and circling around their advance guard. Suddenly Hump’s horse was shot from under him, and there was a rush of warriors to kill or capture him while down. But amidst a shower of arrows the youth leaped from his pony, helped his friend into his own saddle, sprang up behind him, and carried him off in safety, although they were hotly pursued by the enemy. Thus he associated himself in his maiden battle with the wizard of Indian warfare, and Hump, who was then at the height of his own career, pronounced Crazy Horse the coming warrior of the Teton Sioux.

At this period of his life, as was customary with the best young men, he spent much time in prayer and solitude. Just what happened in these days of his fasting in the wilderness and upon the crown of bald buttes, no one will ever know for these things may only be known when one has lived through the battles of life to an honored old age. He was much sought after by his youthful associates, but was noticeably reserved and modest yet in the moment of danger he at once rose above them all — a natural leader! Crazy Horse was a typical Sioux brave, and from the point of view of our race an ideal hero, living at the height of the epical progress of the American Indian and maintaining in his own character all that was most subtle and ennobling of their spiritual life, and that has since been lost in the contact with a material civilization.

He loved Hump, that peerless warrior, and the two became close friends, in spite of the difference in age. Men called them “the grizzly and his cub.” Again and again the pair saved the day for the Sioux in a skirmish with some neighboring tribe. But one day they undertook a losing battle against the Snakes. The Sioux were in full retreat and were fast being overwhelmed by superior numbers. The old warrior fell in a last desperate charge but Crazy Horse and his younger brother, though dismounted, killed two of the enemy and thus made good their retreat.

It was observed of him that when he pursued the enemy into their stronghold, as he was wont to do, he often refrained from killing, and simply struck them with a switch, showing that he did not fear their weapons nor care to waste his upon them. In attempting this very feat, he lost this only brother of his, who emulated him closely. A party of young warriors, led by Crazy Horse, had dashed upon a frontier post, killed one of the sentinels, stampeded the horses, and pursued the herder to the very gate of the stockade, thus drawing upon themselves the fire of the garrison. The leader escaped without a scratch, but his young brother was brought down from his horse and killed.

While he was still under twenty, there was a great winter buffalo hunt, and he came back with ten buffaloes’ tongues which he sent to the council lodge for the councilors’ feast. He had in one winter day killed ten buffalo cows with his bow and arrows, and the unsuccessful hunters or those who had no swift ponies were made happy by his generosity. When the hunters returned, these came chanting songs of thanks. He knew that his father was an expert hunter and had a good horse, so he took no meat home, putting in practice the spirit of his early teaching.

He attained his majority at the crisis of the difficulties between the United States and the Sioux. Even before that time, Crazy Horse had already proved his worth to his people in Indian warfare. He had risked his life again and again, and in some instances it was considered almost a miracle that he had saved others as well as himself. He was no orator nor was he the son of a chief. His success and influence was purely a matter of personality. He had never fought the whites up to this time, and indeed no “coup” was counted for killing or scalping a white man.

Young Crazy Horse was twenty-one years old when all the Teton Sioux chiefs (the western or plains dwellers) met in council to determine upon their future policy toward the invader. Their former agreements had been by individual bands, each for itself, and every one was friendly. They reasoned that the country was wide, and that the white traders should be made welcome. Up to this time they had anticipated no conflict. They had permitted the Oregon Trail, but now to their astonishment, forts were built and garrisoned in their territory.

Native American Photographic Prints

Most of the chiefs advocated a strong resistance. There were a few influential men who desired still to live in peace, and who were willing to make another treaty. Among these were White Bull, Two Kettle, Four Bears, and Swift Bear. Even Spotted Tail, afterward the great peace chief, was at this time with the majority, who decided in the year 1866 to defend their rights and territory by force. Attacks were to be made upon the forts within their country and on every trespasser on the same.

Crazy Horse took no part in the discussion, but he and all the young warriors were in accord with the decision of the council. Although so young, he was already a leader among them. Other prominent young braves were Sword (brother of the man of that name who was long captain of police at Pine Ridge), the younger Hump, Charging Bear, Spotted Elk, Crow King, No Water, Big Road, He Dog, and the nephew of Red Cloud, and Touch-the-Cloud, intimate friend of Crazy Horse.

The attack on Fort Phil Kearny was the first fruits of the new policy, and here Crazy Horse was chosen to lead the attack on the woodchoppers, designed to draw the soldiers out of the fort, while an army of six hundred lay in wait for them. The success of this stratagem was further enhanced by his masterful handling of his men. From this time on a general war was inaugurated Sitting Bull looked to him as a principal war leader, and even the Cheyenne chiefs, allies of the Sioux, practically acknowledged his leadership.

Yet during the following ten years of defensive war he was never known to make a speech, though his teepee was the rendezvous of the young men. He was depended upon to put into action the decisions of the council, and was frequently consulted by the older chiefs.

Like Osceola, he rose suddenly like Tecumseh he was always impatient for battle like Pontiac, he fought on while his allies were suing for peace, and like Grant, the silent soldier, he was a man of deeds and not of words. He won from Custer and Fetterman and Crook. He won every battle that he undertook, with the exception of one or two occasions when he was surprised in the midst of his women and children, and even then he managed to extricate himself in safety from a difficult position.

Early in the year 1876, his runners brought word from Sitting Bull that all the roving bands would converge upon the upper Tongue River in Montana for summer feasts and conferences. There was conflicting news from the reservation. It was rumored that the army would fight the Sioux to a finish again, it was said that another commission would be sent out to treat with them.

The Indians came together early in June, and formed a series of encampments stretching out from three to four miles, each band keeping separate camp. On June 17, scouts came in and reported the advance of a large body of troops under General Crook. The council sent Crazy Horse with seven hundred men to meet and attack him. These were nearly all young men, many of them under twenty, the flower of the hostile Sioux.

They set out at night so as to steal a march upon the enemy, but within three or four miles of his camp they came unexpectedly upon some of his Crow scouts. There was a hurried exchange of shots the Crows fled back to Crook’s camp, pursued by the Sioux. The soldiers had their warning, and it was impossible to enter the well-protected camp. Again and again Crazy Horse charged with his bravest men, in the attempt to bring the troops into the open, but he succeeded only in drawing their fire. Toward afternoon he withdrew, and returned to camp disappointed. His scouts remained to watch Crook’s movements, and later brought word that he had retreated to Goose Creek and seemed to have no further disposition to disturb the Sioux. It is well known to us that it is Crook rather than Reno who is to be blamed for cowardice in connection with Custer’s fate. The latter had no chance to do anything, he was lucky to save himself but if Crook had kept on his way, as ordered, to meet Terry, with his one thousand regulars and two hundred Crow and Shoshone scouts, he would inevitably have intercepted Custer in his advance and saved the day for him, and war with the Sioux would have ended right there. Instead of this, he fell back upon Fort Meade, eating his horses on the way, in a country swarming with game, for fear of Crazy Horse and his braves!

The Indians now crossed the divide between the Tongue and the Little Big Horn, where they felt safe from immediate pursuit. Here, with all their precautions, they were caught unawares by General Custer, in the midst of their midday games and festivities, while many were out upon the daily hunt.

On this twenty-fifth of June, 1876, the great camp was scattered for three miles or more along the level river bottom, back of the thin line of cottonwoods — five circular rows of teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in circumference. Here and there stood out a large, white, solitary teepee these were the lodges or “clubs” of the young men. Crazy Horse was a member of the “Strong Hearts” and the “Tokala” or Fox lodge. He was watching a game of ring-toss when the warning came from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops.

The Indians now crossed the divide between the Tongue and the Little Big Horn, where they felt safe from immediate pursuit. Here, with all their precautions, they were caught unawares by General Custer, in the midst of their midday games and festivities, while many were out upon the daily hunt.

On this twenty-fifth of June, 1876, the great camp was scattered for three miles or more along the level river bottom, back of the thin line of cottonwoods — five circular rows of teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in circumference. Here and there stood out a large, white, solitary teepee these were the lodges or “clubs” of the young men. Crazy Horse was a member of the “Strong Hearts” and the “Tokala” or Fox lodge. He was watching a game of ring-toss when the warning came from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops.

The Sioux and the Cheyenne were “minute men”, and although taken by surprise, they instantly responded. Meanwhile, the women and children were thrown into confusion. Dogs were howling, ponies running hither and thither, pursued by their owners, while many of the old men were singing their lodge songs to encourage the warriors, or praising the “strong heart” of Crazy Horse.

That leader had quickly saddled his favorite war pony and was starting with his young men for the south end of the camp, when a fresh alarm came from the opposite direction, and looking up, he saw Custer’s force upon the top of the bluff directly across the river. As quick as a flash, he took in the situation — the enemy had planned to attack the camp at both ends at once and knowing that Custer could not ford the river at that point, he instantly led his men northward to the ford to cut him off. The Cheyennes followed closely. Custer must have seen that wonderful dash up the sage-bush plain, and one wonders whether he realized its meaning. In a very few minutes, this wild general of the plains had outwitted one of the most brilliant leaders of the Civil War and ended at once his military career and his life.

In this dashing charge, Crazy Horse snatched his most famous victory out of what seemed frightful peril, for the Sioux could not know how many were behind Custer. He was caught in his own trap. To the soldiers it must have seemed as if the Indians rose up from the earth to overwhelm them. They closed in from three sides and fought until not a white man was left alive. Then they went down to Reno’s stand and found him so well entrenched in a deep gully that it was impossible to dislodge him. Gall and his men held him there until the approach of General Terry compelled the Sioux to break camp and scatter in different directions.

While Sitting Bull was pursued into Canada, Crazy Horse and the Cheyenne’s wandered about, comparatively undisturbed, during the rest of that year, until in the winter the army surprised the Cheyenne, but did not do them much harm, possibly because they knew that Crazy Horse was not far off.

His name was held in wholesome respect. From time to time, delegations of friendly Indians were sent to him, to urge him to come in to the reservation, promising a full hearing and fair treatment.

For some time he held out, but the rapid disappearance of the buffalo, their only means of support, probably weighed with him more than any other influence. In July, 1877, he was finally prevailed upon to come in to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, with several thousand Indians, most of them Ogallala and Minneconwoju Sioux, on the distinct understanding that the government would hear and adjust their grievances.

At this juncture General Crook proclaimed Spotted Tail, who had rendered much valuable service to the army, head chief of the Sioux, which was resented by many.

The attention paid Crazy Horse was offensive to Spotted Tail and the Indian scouts, who planned a conspiracy against him. They reported to General Crook that the young chief would murder him at the next council, and stampede the Sioux into another war. He was urged not to attend the council and did not, but sent another officer to represent him. Meanwhile the friends of Crazy Horse discovered the plot and told him of it. His reply was, “Only cowards are murderers.”

His wife was critically ill at the time, and he decided to take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency, whereupon his enemies circulated the story that he had fled, and a party of scouts was sent after him. They overtook him riding with his wife and one other but did not undertake to arrest him, and after he had left the sick woman with her people he went to call on Captain Lea, the agent for the Brules, accompanied by all the warriors of the Minneconwoju band. This volunteer escort made an imposing appearance on horseback, shouting and singing, and in the words of Captain Lea himself and the missionary, the Reverend Mr. Cleveland, the situation was extremely critical. Indeed, the scouts who had followed Crazy Horse from Red Cloud agency were advised not to show themselves, as some of the warriors had urged that they be taken out and horsewhipped publicly.

Under these circumstances Crazy Horse again showed his masterful spirit by holding these young men in check. He said to them in his quiet way: “It is well to be brave in the field of battle it is cowardly to display bravery against one’s own tribesmen. These scouts have been compelled to do what they did they are no better than servants of the white officers. I came here on a peaceful errand.”

The captain urged him to report at army headquarters to explain himself and correct false rumors, and on his giving consent, furnished him with a wagon and escort. It has been said that he went back under arrest, but this is untrue. Indians have boasted that they had a hand in bringing him in, but their stories are without foundation. He went of his own accord, either suspecting no treachery or determined to defy it.

When he reached the military camp, Little Big Man walked arm-in-arm with him, and his cousin and friend, Touch-the-Cloud, was just in advance.

After they passed the sentinel, an officer approached them and walked on his other side. He was unarmed but for the knife which is carried for ordinary uses by women as well as men. Unsuspectingly he walked toward the guardhouse, when Touch-the-Cloud suddenly turned back exclaiming: “Cousin, they will put you in prison!”

Crazy Horse leads his band in surrender

“Another white man’s trick! Let me go! Let me die fighting!” cried Crazy Horse. He stopped and tried to free himself and draw his knife, but both arms were held fast by Little Big Man and the officer. While he struggled thus, a soldier thrust him through with his bayonet from behind.

The wound was mortal, and he died in the course of that night, his old father singing the death song over him and afterward carrying away the body, which they said must not be further polluted by the touch of a white man. They hid it somewhere in the Bad Lands, his resting place to this day.

Thus died one of the ablest and truest American Indians. His life was ideal his record clean. He was never involved in any of the numerous massacres on the trail, but was a leader in practically every open fight. Such characters as those of Crazy Horse and Chief Joseph are not easily found among so-called civilized people. The reputation of great men is apt to be shadowed by questionable motives and policies, but here are two pure patriots, as worthy of honor as any who ever breathed God’s air in the wide spaces of a new world.

Though Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa) doesn’t specifically say so, Crazy Horse was a member of the Ogallala Lakota tribe, a band of the Sioux. He died on September 5, 1877.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated May 2020.

Excerpted from the book Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, by Charles A. Eastman, 1918. The text as it appears here however, is not verbatim as it has been edited for clarity and ease of the modern reader. Charles A. Eastman earned a medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1890, and then began working for the Office of Indian Affairs later that year. He worked at the Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota, and was an eyewitness to both events leading up to and following the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890. Himself part-Sioux, he knew many of the people about whom he wrote.


Inside the controversial 70-year journey to build Crazy Horse, the world's largest monument that still isn't finished

The world's largest monument is also one of the world's slowest to build.

In South Dakota, 70 years have passed since one man — and later his family — began to sculpt Crazy Horse, a famous Native American figure, into a granite mountain.

In September, the New Yorker took a look at the lengthy sculpting process and controversies around the monument. Some say the project's construction has become more about sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his family, who have devoted their lives to the sculpture, rather than focusing on the Native Americans it's meant to honor.

Ziolkowski spent his life working on the granite, but he did not live to even see the finished face. "Go slowly, so you do it right," he told his second wife. He thought it would take 30 years. It's now been 71 years, and it's far from finished.

Here's what the sculpture is like so far, and why finishing it is taking so long.


Related Content

This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don&rsquot conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.

  • Browse by Season
    • Season 11
    • Season 10
    • Season 9
    • Season 8
    • Season 7
    • Season 6
    • Season 5
    • Season 4
    • Season 3
    • Season 2
    • Season 1

    Support Your Local PBS Station: Donate Now

    Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | © 2003 - 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting. All rights reserved.


    Crazy Horse - History

    Crazy Horse was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Indian territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. Take a look below for 30 more fascinating and interesting facts about Crazy Horse.

    1. His participation in several famous battles of the American Indian Wars on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman massacre in 1866, in which he acted as a decoy, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.

    2. In September 1877, four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General George Crook, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present day Nebraska.

    3. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American warriors and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13 cent Great Americans series postage stamp.

    4. Sources differ on the precise year of Crazy Horse’s birth, but most agree that he was born between 1840 and 1845.

    5. According to a close friend, he and Crazy Horse, “were both born in the same year at the same season of the year,” which census records and other interviews place in 1842.

    6. Crazy Horse was born to parents from two tribes of the Lakota division of the Sioux, his father being an Oglala and his mother a Miniconjou.

    7. His father, born in 1810, was also named Crazy Horse.

    8. Crazy Horse was named Cha-O-Ha, or In the Wilderness or Among the Trees, at birth, meaning he was one with nature.

    9. His mother, Rattling Blanket Woman, gave him the nickname “Curly” or “Light Hair,” as his light curly hair resembled her own.

    10. His mother died when Crazy Horse was just four years old.

    11. One account said that after Crazy Horse reached maturity and shown his strength, his father gave him his name and took a new one, Worm.

    12. Crazy Horse’s cousin was Touch the Clouds. He saved Crazy Horse’s life at least once and was with him when he died.

    13. Through traditional Lakota vision quests and fighting prowess skirmishes both with traditional enemy tribes and the colonial settlers, Crazy Horse grew in stature and respect among his people.

    14. He participated in the Battle of Platte Bridge and the Battle of Red Buttes in 1965 to finally be elevated to the status of The Shirt Wearer, which was the leader in battle.

    15. He became a regular leader of large war parties of mixed Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.

    16. Despite his name, Crazy Horse was a quiet and reserved person.

    17. While he was a brace and fearless leader in battle, he didn’t talk much when in the village. Like most Native American chiefs, he was very generous.

    18. Crazy Horse gave away most of his own possessions to other people in his tribe. He was most passionate about protecting the traditional ways of his people.

    19. When Crazy Horse was still a boy, a number of U.S. soldiers entered his camp and claimed that one of the village men had stolen a cow from a local farmer. An argument ensued and one of the soldiers shot and killed Chief Conquering Bear.

    20. Crazy Horse became war chief at the age of 24.

    21. In 1876, Crazy Horse led his men into battle against Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. A few days before the battle, Crazy Horse and his men held off the advancement of General George Crook at the Battle of Rosebud. This left Colonel Custer’s men badly outnumbered.

    22. At the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his warriors helped to surround Custer’s men. When Custer dug in to make his famous last stand, legend has it that it was Crazy Horse who led the final charge overwhelming Custer’s soldiers.

    23. The Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota has a monumental sculpture of Crazy Horse was is 563 feet high and 641 feet long.

    24. He refused to be photographed.

    25. He had a daughter named They Are Afraid of Her.

    26. The Last Sun Dance of 1877 is significant in Lakota history as the Sun Dance held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and to offer prayers for him in the trying times ahead.

    27. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest but didn’t take part in the dancing.

    28. Five warrior cousins sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. The five warrior cousins were three brothers, Flying Hawk, Kicking Bear and Black Fox II, all sons of Chief Black Fox.

    29. Crazy Horse married Black Shawl, a member of the Oglala Lakota and relative of Spotted Tail. The elders sent her to heal Crazy Horse after his altercation with No Water.

    30. Black Shawl outlived Crazy Horse. She died in 1927 during the influenza outbreaks of the 1920s.


    How the Crazy Horse Family Oral History Came to be Known Publicly

    For over a century the true story of Crazy Horse has been shrouded in mystery. Many have attempted to unravel the mysteries by identifying what they perceived to be the 'facts' of his life. but they never interviewed those who were truly closest to this spiritual leader---his family.

    Most of those trying to piece together the 'facts' never really looked in the right place. Most thought his relatives were at the Red Cloud Agency, later referred to as Pine Ridge. However that is where he was killed with the help of members of his own tribe. Nobody ever asked the question as to why would Crazy Horse's closest relatives stay in the same neighborhood with the same people who helped kill him. So Waglula, his father, took most of the immediate family to the Rosebud Reservation and later went underground and moved them to the Cheyenne River Reservation which is where most of his most immediate relatives live today. The oral history story of Crazy Horse was kept by these relatives. His brothers and sisters. His nephews and nieces. It was commited to memory and then passed down generation to generation. It NEVER left their circle out of fear of persecution. The Great Grandsons of Waglula or Crazy Horse, Sr who participated in this project are Floyd Clown, Doug War Eagle, and Don Red Thunder. In the year 2000 they crossed paths with a film maker named William Matson. In 1998 while his father, Emerson, who had been a writer and recorder of Native history, was on his deathbed, he asked his son William to finish what he had started on telling the Native side (Lakota and Cheyenne) of the battle of the Little Bighorn. William was anything but an expert on Native history. But he could not say no.

    After his father died, William read nearly every book on the market having to do with the Lakota and Cheyenne history and found they lacked a cohesive story. So he went to South Dakota. He had read Bear Butte was a spiritual place for the Lakota and Cheyenne, so being a typical Euro-American he figured that the spirituality was at the top. He was wrong. It happened halfway up. The ghost of his father spoke to him and told him to "open your heart". He understood what that meant. It meant he had to learn the spiritual ways of the Lakota and Cheyenne.

    When he went home he no longer skipped over the spiritual information in books on the Lakota and Cheyenne. Upon going back to Bear Butte the following year, he was given the phone number to the Crazy Horse family. He had not asked for it nor did he even know they existed. But he called it.

    The family invited him out to meet him. Unbeknown to William, they had been told by their grandfathers that 'someone from the west was coming to help them'. William was from Oregon. He was asked to go to a ceremony by the family to see if he had a good heart. Apparently he passed. He has been working closely with the family ever since. The in depth coverage of their DVDs, "The Authorized Biography of Crazy Horse and His Family", series attests to that.

    During the taping of their entire family oral history it was learned that the family still carried the family sacred pipe. They told of his maternal grandfather, Black Buffalo, the same Black Buffalo that met Lewis and Clark on the Bad River in 1804 and nearly was involved in a battle with them. They also spoke of Crazy Horse's eldest maternal uncle, One Horn, who met with the famed painter George Catlin and had his picture painted by him (currently at the Smithsonian).

    Also according to the family, Crazy Horse's mother, Rattling Blanket Woman, hung herself when Crazy Horse was four years old. Crazy Horse was then raised by his eldest maternal aunt, Good Looking Woman, who had been unable to conceive children of her own.

    Crazy Horse married Black Shawl in 1867 and together they had a daughter who they named, They Are Afraid Of Her, after his youngest maternal aunt who carried the same name (his aunt was originally named Looks At It. but that was before a fight with her husband).

    The series was produced by Reel Contact and is available for purchase online.


    Curly Becomes Crazy Horse

    In a battle against the Arapaho, Curly followed his vision and remained unhurt as he rode through the flying arrows. However, when he scalped two of the opposing warriors and took their scalps, he was hit in the leg with an arrow. He learned from his mistake because he knew his vision had told him not to take from the enemy. When Curly’s group won the battle, his father was proud of his son’s bravery and gave him his name Crazy Horse.

    Gold was discovered in Montana, and quickly soldiers were building forts in hopes of having a safe route to the gold through the Sioux territory. Though they negotiated a peace treaty with the Sioux, they still did whatever they wanted in the area by moving into the Indian hunting grounds. The Indians were becoming angry. Crazy Horse served as a decoy in a battle known as Fetterman Massacre. Crazy Horse tricked the soldiers into going to an area where 2,000 Indians were hiding. All of the soldiers were killed in less than 30 minutes.


    American History Book Review: Crazy Horse- A Lakota Life

    Scholarly writings on historical American Indian figures are more rare than the public might imagine since such works have to be based in large part on tribal oral traditions. British author Kingsley Bray sifted through oral tradition, past interviews conducted by Mari Sandoz and others and his own journeys to the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations of South Dakota from 1993 to 2005 for this biography of the Sioux war chief Crazy Horse.

    Bray gives a good description of Sioux village life and Crazy Horse’s family history. Crazy Horse, born about 1840, was shaped by the suicide of his mother, Rattle Blanket Woman, and a military disaster at the hands of the Shoshone that his hero and uncle, Male Crow, brought down upon the Sioux. Oral tradition remembers Male Crow’s last words as “I am a man to look for death,” and this emerges as the theme for Crazy Horse’s life.

    But Bray fails to give a clear picture of the Sioux Nation during this period, and he seems to fall back on the Hollywood image of the noble savage. In fact, the Sioux Nation was an imperial power successfully battling and conquering all those around it. As early as 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition reported that tribes living along the Missouri River were very uneasy about the Sioux flooding out over the plains. Bray only hints that the Sioux were relative newcomers to the area.

    However, as the reader comes closer to the events of the Great Sioux War and Crazy Horse’s tremendous victory over George Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876, Bray’s skills as a wordsmith begin to shine. The book becomes not only informative, but an enjoyable read. Still, Bray seems determined to the point of obsession with elevating Crazy Horse to a level of importance perhaps higher than he deserves.

    Bray is dismissive of the role the Sioux war chief Gall played at the Little Bighorn. Likewise, his description of Sioux forces battling the U.S. Army during the 1873 Yellowstone Expedition would lead one to believe that Crazy Horse was the only Indian commander on the field. Bray peppers his work with conjecture as to what Crazy Horse was thinking at various times. Some of that space could have been dedicated instead to quotes from other contemporary sources that would give the book more balance.

    Over time Crazy Horse has become a heroic symbol of American Indian resistance to the whites’ conquest of the West. As an advocate of armed resistance, however, he was at odds with prominent tribal leaders. Crazy Horse was “the man without ears, who would not listen to counsel,” Bray has Red Cloud and other Sioux chiefs saying when Crazy Horse dies in U.S. Army custody in 1877.

    For those who love the history of the West, Crazy Horse is a wonderful study of mid-19th-century intertribal politics, egos and strategies. Despite a few shortcomings, it adds to our understanding of how the Sioux warrior viewed his world and reacted to it.

    Originally published in the October 2007 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.

    List of site sources >>>


    Watch the video: Crazy Horse 1996 movie clip The Fetterman Massacre (January 2022).