Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crazy Horse's Last Year

Ambrose does a wonderful comparative analysis of Crazy Horse and General Custer. Two historical figures, both legends in American history. Get yourself a copy of this book.
Crazy Horse's Last Year
Life After The Battle Of The Little Bighorn

By Dakota Wind
FORT ROBINSON, N.E. - Ambrose was one of the greatest American historians, always able to relate the past to the contemporary reader – in his book, he draws parallels between two of the most remembered figures of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Marshall takes a measure of primary source documents, generally Anglo accounts, and weighs it against oral traditions of Crazy Horse as the Lakota knew him. Bray’s book, while beautifully rendered and polished, is more of a perspective narrative on Lakota society than it is about Crazy Horse, though Crazy Horse is touched on.

A great companion to Ambrose's Crazy Horse and Custer is Joseph Marshall's The Journey of Crazy Horse. If any book about Crazy Horse should grace your library its this one. 

In Ambrose’s book, he mentions that Crazy Horse enlisted in the US Army as an Indian Scout. Ambrose tries to put the reader in Crazy Horse’s moccasins, as it were, about how the Oglala Lakota warrior must have felt deeply conflicted. My interested was piqued, and I paid a visit to the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the State Historical Society of South Dakota, Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and Fort Laramie, Wyoming. It is my thought that if you want a stronger oral tradition about Crazy Horse, and I believe that oral tradition can be accurate, contrary to some of the reviews of Marshall’s book on Amazon, I would encourage you, reader, to pick up a copy or purchase a copy of Marshall’s book.

Written as a narrative, more novel than history text, Powers' book is a wonderful example of telling the story through as many perspectives as possible, almost bogging his book down in detail, but as complete a story as has been put together thus far on the tragic death of Crazy Horse. Check this onw out of your local library before deciding to add it to your collection.  

Thomas Powers’ The Killing of Crazy Horse is a very heavy scholarly piece of work detailing the year following the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Powers breaks down the reasons for the Indian Wars, treaties, and is written as a narrative, which “takes the reader there.”
For an account of the life of Crazy Horse, there are several books from which to choose at your local library, but I would personally recommend: The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph Marshall III, Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas, A Biography by Mari Sandoz, and Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors by Stephen Ambrose.

Tasunka Witko (Crazy Horse) was a phenomenal and charismatic war leader in his time. This is the story of his last days, when life on the Northern Plains was as confusing and uncertain as it was turbulent and violent.

Sitting Bull, after the Little Bighorn conflict, pictured here.

In May, 1877, nearly a full year following the last great victory of the Great Sioux Nation against General Custer and the 7th Cavalry, many Lakota made the journey to Indian agencies across the plains. Others fled north to Canada with Sitting Bull, and nearly all the great Lakota leaders had exchanged their nomadic way of living for a sedentary lifestyle. Some were tired of running. Others tired of being hungry. Still more were weary with heartbreak of watching loved ones die. 

Crazy Horse came to the conclusion that there was no possible way for the Lakota to ever be rid of the Americans, the Sacred Black Hills were lost, and the bison were nearly gone. Author Joseph Marshall III says that the only reassurances the Lakota people had was that they would be alive when they turned themselves in to the agencies.

Camp Robinson, this is the earliest known photo of the camp where Crazy Horse's journey was brought to a sudden end.

On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse came in to exchange one lifestyle for another for the good of his people. On a flat a few miles north of Camp Robinson, Nebraska, Crazy Horse met with Lt. William Philo Clark. Upon meeting the lieutenant, Crazy Horse extended his left hand and reportedly said to Clark, “Friend, I shake with this hand because my heart is on this side; the right hand does all manner of wickedness; I want this peace to last forever.”

While at Camp Robinson, several officers and the Indian Agent James Irwin tried to convince Crazy Horse to make a journey to Washington DC and meet the Great Father. They were nearly successful. The purpose of that journey was for Crazy Horse to meet the president and receive authorization to establish his own agency, either in Beaver Creek country (near present-day Gillette, Wyoming) or close to the Bighorn Mountains (near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming).

Red Cloud pictured here. He too enlisted as a sergeant in the US Indian Scouts.

Contenders for authority of the Oglala Lakota (Red Cloud and Spotted Tail) immediately worked to convince Crazy Horse that going to Washington was not in the best interest of his people, and were rewarded when Crazy Horse suddenly decided not to go.

Crazy Horse's enlistment as Sergeant in the Ogallala Detachment of US Indian Scouts.

In addition to being harassed by officers to go and distracters to stay, news came from the northwest that Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce were fighting and winning a running battle against Colonel Nelson Miles, and they were planning to join Sitting Bull and the Hunkpapa Lakota across the Canadian border. Lt. Clark quickly enlisted as many Oglala Lakota as possible to assist against the Nez Perce. Crazy Horse is reported to have said to Clark: “I came here for peace. No matter that if my own relatives pointed a gun at my head and ordered me to change that word I would not change it.”

Lieutenant WP Clark stands next to Little Hawk. Clark later went on to publish his Indian Sign Language, which was required reading at West Point Military Academy at one time.

Clark devoted himself to pestering Crazy Horse without ceasing or relenting and eventually wore down the Oglala Lakota warrior. Crazy Horse enlisted as Sergeant Red Cloud and Sergeant Spotted Tail had done, with the rank of sergeant and the Oglala Lakota Detachment of US Indian Scouts were formed. 

A beleaguered Crazy Horse, worn from harassing officers, distracters, and talk of the Nez Perce campaign, went to Clark and in the presence of two interpreters (Grouard and Louie Bordeaux) and reportedly said: “We came in for peace. We are tired of war and talking of war. From back when Conquering Bear was still with us we have been lied to and fooled by the whites, and here it is the same, but still we want to do what is asked of us and if the Great Father wants us to fight we will go north and fight until not a Nez Perce is left.”

The Lakota word for Nez Perce is Pohgehdoka (Poh-GAYH-doh-kah; glottal sound on the second "h"). The Lakota word for Anglos or Europeans is Wasicu (Wah-SHEE-Chu).

One of the interpreters misinterpreted Crazy Horse’s words, saying instead that Crazy Horse would fight until there were no more white people left. Rumors grew and swirled as rumors do, about Crazy Horse’s supposed intention to kill every white person.

General Crook, pictured here, became known for his part in the wars with the Apache.

On September 2, 1877, General Crook came to Camp Robinson to pick up his detachment of scouts. Crook left on September 4, 1877, exasperated with the rumblings that Crazy Horse wanted him dead or that Crazy Horse would start another war. Crazy Horse didn’t go with Crook on campaign to bring in the Nez Perce, neither did the Oglala Lakota Detachment of Indian Scouts (Crook instead picked up the Cheyenne Detachment of US Indian Scouts on route west and north), for Crazy Horse had urged the Oglala Lakota Detachment not to go.

According to the post surgeon’s report, at Camp Robinson, Crazy Horse had his fill of strawberries and cream on September 3, 1877, and was incapacitated with a sour gut which effectively removed himself from Crook’s command whether or not he wanted to go on campaign.

General Crook ordered Crazy Horse arrested, but Crazy Horse fled north to Spotted Tail Agency. Crook left on the Nez Perce campaign. On September 6, 1877, Crazy Horse was escorted back to Camp Robinson. Once there, he was taken to the Adjutant’s office where one of Red Cloud’s warriors shouted loudly enough for all to hear that Crazy Horse was supposed to have been a brave man but was now a coward. Crazy Horse lunged after the anonymous warrior but Little Big Man grabbed him by the arms and held him back.

Little Big Man was known for being crafty but also for being a trouble maker.

When they reached Colonel Bradley’s office, the colonel ordered Crazy Horse bound and taken to the guard house. What happened next is a tragedy. It is also a mess of confusion. There is the claim that a soldier killed Crazy Horse with a bayonet thrust, but years later a story by Little Big Man tells us that is was he who plunged his knife into Crazy Horse, twice. Some say they saw a hawk circling above which cried out, perhaps in honor of the mortally wounded Oglala Lakota warrior.

Crazy Horse’s last words are reported to be, “Let me go, my friends. You have hurt me enough.” The soldiers carried Crazy Horse back to the guard house, but Touch-The Clouds intervened and reportedly said, “He was a great chief. And he cannot be put into a prison,” and picked him up and carried Crazy Horse instead to Colonel Bradley’s bed where he later died.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crazy Horse's Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

"The Custer Fight," by Charles Russell
Crazy Horse's Account
BISMARCK, D.T. (N.D.) - On June 11, 1877, the Bismarck Tribune featured the following article.  It was published on nearly the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  The author’s name wasn’t published with the account but the author was reporting for the Chicago Times. 


An Indian Version of the Massacre as from the Lips of Crazy Horse Himself

Chicago Times Special. 

Camp Robinson, Neb., May 24th via Cheyenne [Wyoming], May 25th. - General Crook, Maj. Randall and Lieut. Schuyler arrived here at noon yesterday, accompanied by your correspondent. The 4th Cavalry, Col. McKenzie commanding, are ordered from here to the department of the Missouri, and will leave on the 26th inst. Their headquarters will probably be at Fort Sill, Indian Territory. It is not definitely known what troops will relieve them. One company of the 8th Cavalry, Capt. Wessel’s, left Sidney barracks on the 22nd to form part of a permanent garrison for the summer, and the probabilities are very strong that the post will be garrisoned by companies of the 3rd Cavalry. Gen. S. P. Bradley, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th infantry, now at Omaha Barracks, is assigned to the command here. Your correspondent has obtained some very valuable information in regard to


from Crazy Horse through Horned Horse his spokesman, which is authentic and confirmed by other chiefs. I interviewed these chiefs this afternoon, Lt. Clark arranging for the meeting, and William Hunter acting as interpreter, a man perfectly and thoroughly conversant with the Indian language. This is the Indian version and the first published. The attack was made on the village by a strong force at 11 o’clock in the morning, at the upper end of the village. This was the force commanded by Maj. Reno, and very shortly afterward the lower end of the village was attacked by another strong force, that commanded by Custer.


into seven different bands of Indians, each commanded by a separated chief, and extended in nearly a straight line. The bands were in the order mentioned below, commencing from the lower end, where Custer made his attack. First the Uncapapas, under Sitting Bull; 2d, the Ogallalas, under Crazy Horse; third, the Minneconjous, under Fast Bull; 4th, the Sansarcs [Itazipco], under Red Bear; fifth, The Cheyennes, under Ice Bear; sixth, the Santees and Yanktonai, under Red Point of the Santees; seventh, the Blackfeet [Sihasapa], under Scabby Head. The village consisted of eighteen hundred lodges, and at least four hundred wickayups, a lodge made of small poles and willows for a temporary shelter. Each of the wikayups contained four young bucks, and the estimate made by Crazy Horse is that each lodge had from three to four warriors. The estimate of the three made


of seven thousand Indians. This is the lowest estimate that can be made, for there were a good many Indians without shelter, hangers-on, who fought when called upon, and the usual number was much above seven thousand. The attack was a surprise and totally unlooked for. When Custer made the charge the women, papooses, children, and in fact all that were not fighters, made a stampede in a northerly direction. Custer seeing so numerous a body, mistook them for the main body of Indians retreating and abandoning their villages, and, immediately gave pursuit. The warriors in the village, seeing this, divided their forces into two parts, one intercepting Custer between their non-combat and him, and the other getting his rear. Outnumbering as they did, they had him at their mercy, and


Horned Horse says the smoke and dust was so great that foe could not be distinguished from friend. The horses were wild with fright uncontrollable. The Indians were knocking each other from their steeds, and it is an absolute fact that young bucks in their excitement and fury killed each other, several dead Indians being found killed by arrows. Horned Horse represented this hell of fire and smoke and death by interuning his fingers and saying: “Just like this, Indians and white men.” These chiefs say that they suffered a loss of fifty-eight killed and over sixty wounded. From their way of expressing it, I should judge that about sixty percent of their wounded died.


Reno was fighting in the upper part of the village, but did not get in so far as to get surrounded, and managed to escape. They say had he got in as far as Custer, considering over half the village, could join the northern portion in besieging him. The Indians claim that for


they would have got Reno. They would have surrounded and stormed him out or would have besieged and eventually captured him. From what I know of Crazy Horse I should say that he no doubt is capable of conducting such a siege. In both the Rosebud fight and the Custer massacre the Indians claim he rode unarmed in the thickest of the fight, invoking the blessing of the Great Spirit on him – that if he was right he might be victorious, and if wrong that he be killed. Some details were also learned in regard to


The Indians say in the later fight 86 Indians were killed and 63 wounded. Crazy Horse says from Gen. Crook left Goose Creek, forty miles from the Rosebud battle field, he was continually watched by spies. The first attack on the troops was made by the Cheyennes, Ogallalas, Mnneconjous and Sansarcs [Itazipco], whose combined force was about fifteen hundred. Above the point where the attack was made, about eight miles, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, with about five thousand Indians were camped. The attack was made with the idea that when the Indians retreated the troops would then fall into their strong-hold. It shows as much generalship to avoid


as to win a battle, and in this case just such generalship was shown by Gen. Crook. In an interview this afternoon, these chiefs also said that they knew the time Lieut. Sibley left the main column with Frank Gruard for a guide, on the famous scout where Sibley saved his detachment by leaving his horse in camp and returning on foot, and but for the jealousy between the Indians the party would surely have been captured. But the Cheyennes insisted on having the lion’s share of horses and plunder and delayed their attack until Sibley


with the loss of only his stock and supplies. The above undoubtedly is a truthful version of the engagement mentioned. No one was present at the interview with your correspondent but the chiefs and the interpreter. Hesitation was at first manifested, but after some questioning and talking on minor topics, Horned Horse told his story readily, which met with approval of Crazy Horse and Red Dog, a friendly Indian who was present.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sacajawea? Sacagawea? Sakakawea? Where She Came From And How Its Spelled

Here's a Sacagawea memorial in Mobridge, SD, across the river from Wakpala, SD. It is almost directly across the Missouri River from the monument of Sitting Bull. It's interesting that this memorial to an American Indian reflects something like the memorials to prominent Free Masons like George Washington, its very Egyptian, not at all native.
Sacajawea? Sacagawea? Sakakawea?
Where She Came, How Its Spelled

By Dakota Wind
GREAT PLAINS - So, I'm from North Dakota. I was born and raised in Fort Yates, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. When I was in the eighth grade our Social Studies teacher, a hard-as-nails woman who always spoke through her teeth as though she had lockjaw, took the class through our North Dakota history units and drilled it into us that we were Teton Lakota and we should be proud of our heritage. No one in the class liked her, but she commanded every one's respect, and the few who dared to cross her path with asinine behavior were quickly dealt with.

Mrs. Kills Pretty Enemy had a favorite saying, it came off as a little "preachy" but she was a gospel singer, and she'd share it with the class weekly, "You have to want to."  Whenever she'd step out of the room a few daring classmates would offer an impersonation of Mrs. Kills Pretty Enemy and the class would giggle, until she returned. 

Here's the blue book, this unit is is the "American Indians of North Dakota."

As I was reviewing some of the North Dakota history units, I was reminded of my teacher when I came across the story of the young native woman who assisted the Corps of Discovery.  Mrs. Kills Pretty Enemy always enunciated her name carefully and almost zealously (I suspect because she was one of the few women, much less an Indian woman, that US history cared to remember).  She always said, "Sacajawea."  Most Americans pronounce it that way too, SAH-kah-jah-WEE-ah. 

Here's a monument to Sacajawea at the Sacajawea Center in Salmon, Idaho.  

I couldn't explain or articulate it then as a middle school boy, but saying "Sacajawea" somehow always felt "wrong."  It was always explained to me that "Sacajawea" meant "Bird Woman."  In Lakota on Standing Rock, we were taught that to say "Bird Woman" as "Zitkala Winyan."  When I got older, and hopefully wiser, to care, it turns out that Sacajawea was known to the Lakota too, and we did in fact know her as "Zitkala Winyan," as Bird Woman. 

Here's a shot of the reconstructed Fort Manuel Lisa located in Kenel, SD.  It rests on a plateau overlooking Lake Oahe.  When the Pierre Dam was built in the 1950s, the new lake flooded many historic, traditional, and cultural sites, one of them being the original site of Fort Manuel Lisa. 

Bird Woman resided at Fort Manuel Lisa with her husband Charboneau and sister.  Historically, Fort Manuel Lisa was in the heart of Northern Teton Lakota territory.  Today, Fort Manuel Lisa has been reconstructed near present-day Kenel, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. 

The story of Bird Woman is a complicated one.  The Shoshone Indians insist that her name is "Sacajawea."  They say that her name means "Boat Launcher."  The general story is that she was kidnapped by the Hidatsa and brought to the Five Villages at Knife River (today its called Knife River Indian Villages located at present-day Stanton, ND).  The Hidatsa Indians, however, were sedentary agricultural people, not particularly wont to journey so far west to Shoshone Indian country to steal children.  The Hidatsa were traders, with trade coming to them.  Bird Woman was likely kidnapped by the Crow Indians, a sister tribe to the Hidatsa, and who were west of the Five Villages, and who would have most likely raided the Shoshone Indians for horses. 

Here's another monument to Sakakawea. This one is in front of the North Dakota Heritage Center. She looks west. 
At the Five Villages, Bird Woman came to be known amongst the Hidatsa as Bird Woman.  In Hidatsa, they called her Tsacagawea (run the "t" together with the "s"), tsah-KAH-gah-WEE-ah. 

When the Corps of Discovery met Bird Woman, they struggled with her name.  Captain Lewis spelled it four different ways, Captain Clark spelled it yet four more different ways, and altogether the Corps of Discovery spelled it seventeen different ways.  Not once with a "j". 

Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea in the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  She should have had more lines.

Captain Lewis spelled it:

Captain Clark spelled it:
Sahcahgar Wea

The Shoshone Indians spell it:
Sacajawea, meaning "Boat Launcher."

The Hidatsa Indians spell it:
Tsacagawea, meaning "Bird Woman."

In North Dakota it is spelled:

The National Park Service spells it:

Amy Mossett, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and a matrilineal Mandan, has done some tremendous research on the subject of Bird Woman.  According to her research, it was the Woman's Sufferage Movement who changed the spelling and pronunciation of Sacagawea to Sacajawea. 

Some questions to consider about Bird Woman are:
When did she die?
Where did she die?

These aren't so easy to answer.   
Likely in December, 1812, at Fort Manuel Lisa after giving birth to a daughter, Lisette.  The Shoshone have the oral tradition that she died on the Wind River Indian Reservation in 1884.  Dr. Charles Eastman, a Dakota Sioux, was sent on a "Sacajawea" pilgrimage by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it was Dr. Eastman's conclusion that Sacajawea died at Wind River. 

A huge gravestone marks where Sacajawea is buried at Fort Washakie, Wyoming.

I've seen my old social studies teacher around once in a while.  I'm respectful of her and I can appreciate the time and efforts she put into our education.  When I do see her, I always remember afterwards about telling her about Sacagawea. 

Click here for imagery and a little more about Sacagawea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The North Star Dakotan No. 1, a North Dakota Studies Project

Good day reader.  I've been working on a North Dakota Studies project for the good people at the North Dakota Humanities Council.  The project is called The North Star Dakotan, and its all about making North Dakota history units available to students learning about North Dakota history, culture, politics, agriculture, literature, and to some extent even philosophy.  The North Star Dakotan is free.  There is no cost to the educators, students, or anyone else interested in exploring the realm (if I could use the word) of North Dakota. 
The North Star Dakotan began back in 1993 and was directed by D. Jerome Tweton, a prominent North Dakota Humanities Scholar and recipient of many other prestigious state honors.  It was Tweton and the founding director, Mr. Everett Albers, who got this project off the ground and flying for about fifteen years. 

My role is this project is small.  I designed the logo, directed the layout, and made sure that the contect matched current North Dakota studies standards.  The content was entirely rewritten by Tweton himself. 

I had a chance to personally meet with Tweton earlier this year.  We discussed notes and primary resources.  Tweton asked me if there was anything I'd like to see more of in this issue.  Since this issue was focusing on the early cultural occupations of North Dakota and the native peoples, early explorers and traders, why not include a little more of the native history.  He graciously obliged my request without hesitation. 

An educator's guidebook is also available in the same page.

Additional North Dakota Studies material can be found at: http://www.ndstudies.org
(Click on the purple, green, or yellow boxes for free North Dakota content, the blue box will take you to a related North Dakota Studies page but its content you'll have to purchase.)