Crazy Horse

(Tashunka Witko)

(1842 – 1877)

“Hoka Hey!  It is a good time to die!

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Image claimed by Carroll Friswold to be an actual photograph of Crazy Horse, but many hold to the belief that Crazy Horse never consented to have his photograph taken. - Ray

Site Index

Introduction to Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse Memorial
Interview with He Dog
Crazy Horse related Links
Crazy Horse Visions

Crazy Horse Quotes

Interview with He Dog, lifelong friend of Crazy Horse

A history of Chief Crazy Horse as told by He Dog and written down by his son, Rev. Joseph Eagle Hawk, Oglala, SD is recorded on pages 49-69 of "The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse." This book is a compilation of historical documents with an introduction by Robert A. Clark and commentary by Carroll Friswold. This unique collection of historical documents sheds additional and insightful light on Crazy Horse's life, legend and the particulars of his untimely death. He Dog's commentary as captured by his son is one of the key documents regarding the last days and hours of Crazy Horse's life. It is a detailed and descriptive account of interactions between He Dog and Crazy Horse.

He Dog attempted to convince Crazy Horse to travel to Washington to speak to the President and make peace with him. Chief Red Cloud related the request to Crazy Horse and He Dog saying: "There is one thing they want you to do. Chief Crazy Horse and Chief He Dog, the army wants you to go to the Great White Father, and make your peace with him officially. I am told that you and your tribes will be given a place to live, wherever you choose. You can live in the Black Hills, if you will go to Washington and make your peace with him." He Dog was unable to convince Crazy Horse to take the trip as Crazy Horse did not trust that was the true intent (though not related in He Dog's history, other sources confirm that the true intent was never to take Crazy Horse to Washington. Rather Colonel Bradley had already made arrangements that on September 7, 1877, Crazy Horse was to be taken by a wagon, prepared for the trip since morning of the day Crazy Horse was to arrive at Fort Robinson, to the railroad at Omaha and on to the Dry Tortugas off the Florida coast).

Many details of the events surrounding the last days of Crazy Horse are included in He Dog's commentary making it a unique document of this tragic incident. He Dog was not in the immediate room when Crazy Horse was stabbed by a soldier's bayonet, however, he came up just after it happened and prevented a man named Shoe Lace from shooting Crazy Horse while he was down. He angryly told the man to get away. The man complied. He Dog then got his blanket to make a bed and cover for his friend on the ground. Crazy Horse asked He Dog to look at his wound. There were two wounds, a cut on the right side of his back and below that a deep stab wound. He Dog went in search of help to take Crazy Horse away from the fort and ran into White hat, an army officer, whom he slapped across the face. He then found Crazy Horse's father, mother and Touch-the-Clouds and sent them to Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse was moved into the adjutant's office and placed on a bed there. He died in the night and his parents took his body away from the fort and returned to camp where a sort of funeral service was held. Later the family moved the body with them to Spotted Tail's camp. Here a small frame house was constructed where Crazy Horse's body was kept under guard until the family left with the Rosebud Sioux to be taken along the Missouri River. (Crazy Horse's burial place is not stated in He Dog's commentary, however, the family evidently buried Crazy Horse standing up in a crevice of rock and tumbled rocks down to cover the body. Although there has been much speculation as to just where Crazy Horse was buried, no one knows for sure.)

He Dog was thirty three years old when Crazy Horse was killed at age thirty two. In the closing paragraph of his commentary on Crazy Horse, He Dog says Crazy Horse was his close friend. He Dog lived to be in his middle ninties. There is a photograph of him taken when he was interviewed by Elinor Hinman at age ninety two. He was said to have had a clear memory and was the person others referred to when questions of the past were to be clarified by saying "He Dog will know that."

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Crazy Horse Links

Links to other Crazy Horse Pages:

Alleged Photo of Ta' Shunke Witko

CRAZY HORSE, a brief history

Crazy Horse, a history

Crazy Horse resources

Links to Crazy Horse Memorial pages:

Crazy Horse Memorial

Official Crazy Horse Memorial Page

Crazy Horse Memorial Newsgroup

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Crazy Horse's Visions

First Vision: As a young boy, Curly (so named because of his long curly light brown hair), often listened to the wise ones who spoke of greatness through vision quests. He also witnessed the death of Conquering Bear, en event that changed him from a young boy to a man who realized the white soldiers as enemies to his people. Conquering Bear died as a result of a foolish response to the killing of a cow by Straight Foretop when the cow came running into the camp doing damage. Straight Foretop slaughtered the cow, taking the beef for the damage. Lt. Gratten took thirty soldiers and two wagon guns to the camp and demanded punishment for the person who killed the cow. He insisted and would not relent until finally a soldier fired his rifle. Then a battle broke out with Straight Foretop killing Lt. Gratten and six bullets striking Conquering Bear. He died in the creek after asking his fellow chiefs to take care of his people. Curly saw this death and soon sought a vision of his life.

Hump was Curly's warrior teacher and taught him much about what it meant to be great. He spoke of the ceremonies to prepare for a vision quest. But when Curly felt the loss to his people by the foolish killing of Conquering Bear he knew the time had come for his first vision quest. As he traveled with the tribe, something called him to come to the height of a mountain. He left the group and found a pit left by an old eagle hunter long ago. He laid down on the ground of pebbles and placed stones between his toes to keep from sleep. He knew he was seeking a vision without the sweat bath preparations Hump had instructed him to do, but his mind was troubled and something called him to seek the vision now. Three days he went without food, water or sleep. He wondered about the foolish white people and their continually growing presence in the land. After no vision came to him and fearing he would grow too weak to climb back down to his horse, he left the pit and stumbled to where his horse was hobbled. He could not mount the horse because he was so weak. He fell to the ground leaning against a cottonwood tree, the sacred talking tree, and sleep overtook him. Then his dream came to him, a vision of lightening in the clouds and bullets whining in the air and one who rode back and forth and thought as if one with his mind. Crazy Horse, Curly's father and Hump found him asleep and woke him. He did not understand right away and was at first ashamed that he had tried to see a vision without proper preparation.

Later, Curly was beside the fire with his mother talking about the coming of the white soldiers when her eyes took on the sparkle of far seeing and she became as in a trance while she told him of a future where the one who knows all things will bring up men and women of honor to rekindle fire in the hearts of all people. She told him that they would not live to see that time, but that she saw his name on the lips of those people of honor when they come and his spirit in the mountains, for you will have left a trail of light in this present darkness and it shall be a guide to our people and perhaps to all people. He then realized that his mother had seen a great vision, maybe as great as the vision he had seen, but could not yet understand or talk about. However, this talk from his mother helped clear his mind somewhat.

As Curly continued to struggle with understanding his vision, he knew he must talk of it soon. After a time when he and his father had spent a long time together, he knew the time to bring his vision to clear understanding was near at hand. Standing tall Curly dropped his blanket from around him feeling the power Hump had told him would come and sending that power out so that he did not shiver in the cool fall air but lifted his spirit to become one with the circle of all that is.

His father then built a sweat lodge where the two, not as father and son, but as holy man and warrior, spoke of the vision for the first time. A man riding a horse that changed colors in a swirling mist carrying the man into dark storms of battle where bullets and arrows like trails of fire were always fading before they struck the man. Even as some people followed the man into battle, other tried to hold him back. There was a light that followed his movements, ebbing and flowing from dim to bright. The man had a small round sacred stone fastened under one ear, a single feather in his hair, a sparrow hawk flying over his head and his body streaked with lightening and the white marks of hailstones. In this vision also was shown that while he would never be killed in battle, he would die while in the hands of his own people. This was not fully understood until he was killed while his arms were being held back by members of his own people.

His father knew this was indeed a great vision saying you must do as the man in the vision did, leading your people in spite of those who attempt to hold you back. No bullet shall strike you. And as Curly had told him of his mother's vision, his father understood Curly's vision to also have great meaning for their people and maybe even all peoples. And he encouraged Curly to go to the mountain tops to fast and pray as often as the spirit moved him to do so.

Great Vision: (likely 1871) On Bear Butte after much preparation and fasting and during a great thunder and lightening storm with hailstones falling around him but not striking him, Crazy Horse heard a voice telling him to behold what is to be. His eyes were able to see far away things in detail. He looked below and saw a town of the white people with many houses. He say them busy with their work like many ants, but he felt a coldness from them that he did not understnad until he saw on the edge of this town some poor shacks where Indians lived. The Indians wore old castoff white men's clothes and their eyes were sullen like the darkness of a cloud. He saw two of them lying still on the ground where water puddles formed in the street. There was about them the stink of too much wiskey. He saw an old woman washing clothes by rubbing them on a board and about her was a weariness as if she could hardly move another inch. He knew the old spirit had gone from these people and a great sadness came over him. He knew who had caused this as one people held another down while taking whatever they wanted. His anger flashed. To die to save his people from this fate would be good. But he heard the voice say: "This had to be, but it will pass away, for all the people of Earth must gather together like the geese that fly together in the springtime." When he looked again down he saw not only the broken hearts and minds among his people, but also the few strong ones who somehow kept the spirit through all the bad times. For there were old men and women whose faces mirrored the clouds and the earth, and whose eyes had the light of the dawn, and he could see that they were passing on this spark to some few of their grandchildren.

As he next looked down, he saw black ribbons across the prairies. Looking closer he recognized the ribbons as little many-colored bugs moving very fast and then he saw people inside those fast moving bugs and he saw there were few horses anymore. Then he saw the darkness increasing all over the earth and heard loud noises with whistlings and screaming within the darkness. He saw the pain and tears of the families and realized that somewhere their loved ones were being killed. Next he saw people running about like crazy without accomplishing anything except putting up more buildings. He looked up and saw birds that were not birds but had lights by night as they flew through the sky. Then more fighting where explosions were so great that they rocked the mountains and made many houses disappear beneath a great smoke cloud.

After the great wars there came a time of new hope where the people tried to keep away from crazy water and were wearing better clothes and living in better houses. Yet there were still walls between his people and most of the white people. Suddenly all the people's faces disappeared into the darkness. From the east there came a light from a star with nine points and he knew this represented the nine circles, including the two new ones yet to come. Then a sacred herb grew into a great Sacred Tree of his people. The light continued to come from the east which was the world of the spirit, he saw people still in darkness and some were reaching their hands toward the light, some seeing it and some not seeing it. Some people were asking others if they saw the light. Some people were dancing in the spirit world under the sacred tree, but their faces were different and he realized the tree was too big for just his people alone and contained all races of men. They formed one circle of one people, united though different in a strange and sacred way.

When Crazy Horse told this vision to his father, he was silent for a long while. Finally, Worm (as old Crazy Horse chose to be humbly known after he gave his name to his son), realizing his son had been given a vision greater than he would ever have, spoke his feelings about Crazy Horse's great vision. He said "There is both bad and good in this vision. First you saw our people conquered, crazy water ruining our people's lives and our people being treated badly by the white people. But some still carried the dreams in secret until such time as they could share the secret hope to spread new light to all people." Worm went on to describe to Crazy Horse the importance of resisting the white soldiers through creating brave and honorable leaders even though in the end they cannot win the fight. Still it is important to create great leaders for the people to remember. Then one day as the vision showed, some of the white people will seek to fairly deal with all people and will share the light with others.

From the day of his father's talk, Crazy Horse increased the time he spent with young people. Taking time to explain the ways of the the Lakota in terms they could grasp and encouraging them to be brave and strong of spirit.

Last Vision: After the Sun Dance just before going to Fort Robinson, Crazy Horse purified himself in a sweat lodge and then climbed Beaver Mountain to fast and pray for four days and nights. He then returned to the sweat lodge to complete what was to be his last vision quest. Surely this time of seeking the future must have given him some understanding of the fatal nature of his surrender to the white soldiers. He seemed to know his fate was soon to be known, yet he went voluntarily to Fort Robinson and to his death. Crazy Horse moved from struggle both with the white soldiers and strife within the leadership of the Sioux to legend and gave his spirit to a movement that remains strong even today.

Much of the above information on Crazy Horse's visions is summarized from "Crazy Horse - Hoka Hey! [It is a good time to die!] The story of Crazy Horse, legendary mystic and warrior" by Vinson Brown.

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Quotes attributed to Crazy Horse


"Hoka Hey! It is a good time to die"

"My lands are where my dead lie buried"

"I will return to you in stone" When asked about the small stone he always wore.

"A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. I was hostile to the white man...we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight."

Spoken to the Sioux Tribe: "If I ever pass away, the white men will take you under their custody as wards"

After a time spent on top of Beaver Mountain two days before his death: "My bones will turn to rock and my joints to flint" His body is said to have been buried at a place of a steep face rock cliff.

After the last observance of the true original and genuine sun dance observed on behalf of Crazy Horse just before he traveled to Fort Robinson, Chief Crazy Horse requested of the warrior cousins (Eagle Thunder, Walking Eagle, Kicking Bear, Black Fox and Flying Hawk - the last three being brothers and sons of Chief Black Fox also known as Great Kicking Bear - all five being blood-cousins of Crazy Horse) who participated in the Sun Dance that: "At my death paint my body with red paint and plunge it into fresh water to be restored back to life, otherwise my bones will be turned into stone and my joints into flint in my grave, but my spirit will rise" But when Crazy Horse was killed, the warriors were in such a condition of extreme mourning that no one remembered his request.

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