Crazy Horse was a fierce Native American warrior and leader who led many victories to try and preserve the land of the Lakota people. Here are five important facts about him.
Crazy Horse was born around 1840 near present-day Rapid Springs, South Dakota and given the Native American name Tashunka Witco. It is unclear how he was given the name Crazy Horse, but his father also bared the same name, hinting that possibly he passed on the name after his son showed great skills to become a proud warrior. Crazy Horse looked different than most children. He had a lighter complexion than most kids and had brown, curly hair. Crazy Horse grew up a Lakota, a division of the Sioux, and at that time, the Lakota people had a giant property of land. The Lakota territory started with the Missouri River and going west to the Big Horn Mountains and south all the way to the North Platte River.
The Lakota People
The Lakota people had a lot of power by the 1840s. They had a lot of land and minimal interaction with whites. However, that changed when white settlers traveled west in search of gold. Whites began building forts and disease spread to the Native American people. In 1854, the Grattan Massacre began, which was the initial start of the battles between the Natives and the whites. After whites killed Chief Conquering Bear, his warriors fought back and killed Lieutenant John Grattan and his men. This massacre was the beginning of the war between the United States and the Lakota people.
Crazy Horse was a skilled warrior and fought in many of the battles against the United States. In one battle, Crazy Horse led an attack on Captain William J. Fetterman and his 80 men. It was known as the Fetterman Massacre and was an embarrassment to the U.S. military when Crazy Horse defeated them. Crazy Horse would continue to attack the U.S. military even when after signing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which left the Lakota with a good piece of land. Crazy Horse was not happy with the whites taking over his people’s land and his goal was to reclaim what were his and his native peoples.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn
Things got even worse for the Lakota people and Crazy Horse when the U.S. government agreed with white settlers to explore the Black Hills, which were said to have gold. Soon the War Department would order all of the Lakota people onto reservations. Crazy Horse and Chief Sitting Bull did not agree with these terms and the great warrior gathered 1,200 men to fight against General George Crook and his army. Crazy Horse and his men successfully defeated the general, as they were about to advance towards the Lakota people’s land. But the greatest victory by Native Americans that involved Crazy Horse was the Battle of the Little Big Horn. A week after defeating General Crook, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull won a battle against Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his Seventh Cavalry. It was a great win for the Native American people.
Military forces continued to pursue Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull after they managed to wipe out Custer and his cavalry. Sitting Bull ended up going into Canada to escape the army, while Crazy Horse continued to fight. Soldiers would hunt for Crazy Horse and his men throughout the wintertime, and on March 6, 1877, the military leader surrendered himself near Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Crazy Horse remained on a reservation, but when he was arrested on September 5th, he fought back with officers and was stabbed to death. It is said that Crazy Horse passed away with his father at his side in 1877. Crazy Horse is remembered for fighting hard for the Lakota people and all Native Americans and making sure his people’s traditions are kept alive.