September 6, 1877: Crazy Horse died (Army records show night of September 7th.)
Words Spoken: Tasunka Witko (Crazy Horse):
"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."
( There is no known photograph of Tasunka Witko; this is the earliest drawing of him. )
>From http://historymatters.gmu.edu/text/427-kills.html , and at this website there is audio version of the discussion with George Kills In Sight.
George Kills in Sight: Crazy Horse is sort of related to my grandmother on my father's side. My father's mother is cousin to Crazy Horse. Of course now everybody seems to claim relation to Crazy Horse, but it used to be the fact that my grandmother is cousin to Crazy Horse. And my grandfather was along in northern part of the state where, now known as the Cheyenne River Reservation. Him and others were up on the hunt scouting around when they come back they were told. In the meantime Pine Ridge, members of the Pine Ridge Indians, went up there and told Crazy Horse that he's wanted down to ...
Joseph Cash: Fort Robinson?
Kills in Sight: Someplace where, yeah, Fort Robertson. So ah . . . he kind of hesitated but finally they talked him into it, so they left. When that hunting party -- my grandfather's Big Crow -- when they come back they were told. So right away they didn't waste no time, they, they followed them -- which is about almost a day ahead of them. But they traveled during nights too, and just as the, the party got to Fort Robertson, they caught up to them. They caught up to them and ah, my grandfather, Big Crow, he had a six-shooter with a holster along with cartridges. He told him, he said, ?Brother-in law,? he said, ?put this on,? he said. ?You might need it 'cause something is going to be happening.? So he put it on his waist and then they, they didn't go in with him, but they stand so far and the guards stopped them, and they turn over to the . . . those Pine Ridge members that went after him escorted him to, to the . . . instead of taking him to the Army officer, they take him to . . . right straight to the jail. So there's two guards on each side of the gate. And this Pine Ridge, members of the Pine Ridge, that escorted him, they told him that was a jail -- in Indian. So he turned around, and this guard -- he was a white soldier -- just run his bayonet through, through the guts. He didn't shoot him or anything, just ...
Cash: Bayoneted him?
Kills in Sight: Killed him there. They just let him lay there, and of course he was dead. So, my grandfather and his bunch, they was from Cheyenne. They went up there and they claimed the body. He . . . the mistake that the Army did was they should be turned over and taken to the Army officer . . . and then later he probably could be thrown in jail maybe. But still . . . just taken back to the jail, without proving no questions about why he was wanted.
Cash: Yeah. And what happened to the body then?
Kills in Sight: My grandfather and his, his bunch claimed the body and they took it. They told them to just to take it out so . . . They made a travois and brought it, brought him home. And they brought him home to the, to the camp where the Northern Cheyenne Siouxs are and his father and mother took it over. And then they bound him up in, in buffalo robe -- tied with rawhide rope -- and wherever they go. . . they took him along. They didn't bury him. And the way they told . . . they had him almost a month. I don't know how they could tell but the change of the moon or they . . . he kept. But he wasn't spoiled; the body was preserved.
So finally the leaders got together and on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- now known as, as Medicine -- right around in that pines, in the breaks or someplace, they camped. And they asked the father of Crazy Horse to bury his son. So he agreed to it, that he's going bury his son but under one condition: he has to fill his pipe, and those that would not tell -- ever tell where he was going to be buried -- will smoke the pipe with him. Just like that: they pledged themselves not to tell the place he was to go and be buried. So ah, but those that's gonna tell, they might as well leave because he's not gonna bury him. So those big crowd thin out, just a few stayed and smoked the pipe.
So they dug a hole in a kind of washout, like a ravine, close up to a ridge. They dug that under there, a kind of stone. So they dug way under there and they left the body in there. They laid the body in there, and then put rocks just tight, you know, and put dirt on there, and fixed it so that nobody ever think there was a grave there. So, that's why when they fixed that monument they wanted to know where he was buried but nobody will tell. Those that were present at the time will never tell.
Courtesy of the Institute of American Indian Studies, South Dakota Oral History Center, University of South Dakota.
>From Glenn Welker's site: http://www.indians.org/
While Sitting Bull was pursued into Canada, Crazy Horse and the Cheyennes wandered about, comparatively undisturbed, during the rest of that year, until in the winter the army surprised the Cheyennes, 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!" "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.