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Crazy Horse Appearing is a contemporary award-winning novel, presented as a gift from the sacred spirit of Crazy Horse.
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Crazy Horse is my hero. I trust he will be your hero too.
The final chapter, shown below, details the death of Crazy Horse.
by Judee Shipman
The officers took an instant liking to Crazy Horse and treated him most kindly. By anyone's standards, he was personable, gracious, quiet, and polite. How highly they admired his reputation for bravery and perseverance. And he seemed to care for nothing but the good of his people.
His refinement and thoughtfulness were truly disarming. They spoke of him with pleasure and respect. They even invited him to Washington DC.
The attention Crazy Horse was getting from the U.S. Army officers had Red Cloud and Spotted Tail seething with envy.
“He is scarcely half my age!” fumed Red Cloud.
“He is not even a real Chief!” whined Spotted Tail.
Not that Red Cloud or Spotted Tail were “real” chiefs themselves. Neither man had ever been elected by the people, although both men had long ago proven their courage.
Both men were competent leaders, eager to help their tribal members. Both men had tried very hard to navigate the system.
Unfortunately, the white men who called them Chief had appointed them to run entire Agencies, leaving them with many hungry followers who turned to them for help they could not give.
As an added insult, both men were enraged to realize they'd spent all this time kissing the white man's ass for nothing.
Hadn't they both, long ago, come to the agencies and behaved themselves well, doing their best to befriend the Washeechus, while Crazy Horse was out there killing them?
Hadn't they obediently tricked him into “surrendering,” and not even gotten the money yet?
For their efforts, they expected from the U.S. Military the respect, approval, and political clout they believed they had earned, not to mention that two-hundred dollar reward for bringing him in.
And they thought Crazy Horse was being naive.
In June of 1877, a band of Nez Perce people led by Chief Joseph emerged victorious over the attacking U.S. Cavalry at White Bird Canyon in the Idaho Territory.
Later, near Montana's Big Hole River, a smaller band of Nez Perce would fight the U.S. Army once again. That time, the U.S. Army lost 29 soldiers, but 89 Nez Perce warriors were killed.
Crazy Horse knew all about Chief Joseph, and admired him for his humanitarian ideals and leadership skills, as well as for his skillful command of the English language.
In July, the Lakota people held what turned out to be the last great Sun Dance for a long, long time.
This ancient rite is a sacred symbol of life and rebirth. The people dedicated that year's Sun Dance to Crazy Horse.
Dancers danced four days and four nights, in prayer for the brightness of his future.
Five of his cousins pledged their flesh to him at the piercing ceremony. Their names were Kicking Bear, Black Fox, Flying Hawk, Walking Eagle, and Eagle Thunder.
Piercing represented the ultimate sacrifice. It signified a willingness give all you have, even your very own flesh, for the good of the tribe. It symbolized suffering on behalf of others, that others might suffer less.
Crazy Horse was deeply honored by the wholeness of their devotion.
The Sun Dance involved fasting, dancing and meditation.
A scout was selected to find the most perfect specimen of a cottonwood tree. The cottonwood was sacred. Its up-reaching branches revealed a perfect five-pointed star when cut crosswise.
The presence of this star indicated the presence of the Great Spirit.
A select group of men cut the tree carefully, without letting it touch the ground, then carried it to the center of the Sun Dance circle, and placed it on its prebuilt framework.
Dancers tied many tiny bundles of sage and tobacco to the cottonwood pole. Each bundle represented a prayer.
A prayer for Crazy Horse.
Then the tree was raised and rooted in the center of the Circle.
On hearing of the heartfelt preparations being made, Red Cloud jumped through hoops to arrange his own Sun Dance. A bigger one. A better one.
After all, he had thousands of followers.
More than twenty thousand people attended the Sun Dance in honor of Crazy Horse. They came from as far as thirty miles away, many on foot, just to be near him. Even whites from Fort Robinson stopped by to witness the event.
Crazy Horse, as usual, didn't take part in the ceremony, but quietly spent his time reconnecting with old friends.
At some point, Crazy Horse addressed some of his followers who had gathered around him needing to know what they would ever do without him. Desperately, they looked to him for reassurance.
Surely, this time the Great Chief would deliver detailed instructions that would outline exactly how the people were supposed to go about living the rest of their lives!
“Srene Sreke,” said Crazy Horse.
And silence fell once more.
It meant that if Crazy Horse died, his followers would become permanent prisoners of war and slaves to the United States Government.
Only a language as colorful as Lakota can pack so much meaning into so short a space.
On hearing this, one or two men actually started to cry. So Crazy Horse, for one brief, precious moment, spoke freely to his followers, sharing with the ones he loved a secret message of hope from a world unseen to most:
“When I die,” said Crazy Horse, “you can paint my body red and immerse me in fresh water. If this you do, I will return to you alive again. If this you fail to do, my bones will turn to stone, but my spirit will survive.”
That year's Sun Dance was the greatest ever held.
The occasion was commemorated by placing five large stones as a marker where the cottonwood had been. Each stone represented one of the five brave warrior cousins who had pierced his flesh for Crazy Horse.
Red Cloud was forced to cancel his Sun Dance celebration when only one dancer showed up.
Meanwhile, Sheena Sapa had been coughing for quite a long time, and seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. Crazy Horse made sure she was carefully attended at home, as he went about his leaderly business at the agency.
At some point, a most alluring maiden stared at him with unabashed longing. To the Oglala people, her behavior was disgustingly disrespectful. He had been through everything! The greatest Warrior Chief among them! How DARE she look at him! THAT way!!!
But culture clash was all it was. Traditional Oglala women were reserved to a fault, demurely down casting their eyes when a man entered the room.
This girl was a vibrant, 17-year old beauty with the dark good looks of her Southern Cheyenne mother, and the shamelessly straightforward way of her white father, a savvy French Trader named Long Joe Laravee.
Her name was Helen (Nellie) Laravee, known among her own as Chi-Chi, and among the Oglalas as Brown-Eyes-Woman.
Her eyes must have been quite extraordinary to have earned her such a nickname among the people, as most of their women had brown eyes.
Or was it just the way she held her gaze upon the eyes of another?
Brown-Eyes-Woman fixed her gaze on Crazy Horse and didn't let go. Crazy Horse couldn't help noticing. He was, after all, a young and virile man whose one and only wife had fallen ill.
As a mate, Brown-Eyes-Woman was a complete mismatch for 33-year-old Crazy Horse. The two of them had nothing in common. But the girl was enthralled by his gleaming reputation, and the intensity of his look.
His very presence rendered her star struck.
Crazy Horse probably was not in love with Brown Eyes Woman, as he had given all those feelings away to the love of his life long ago, when the maiden called him a very brave young man.
Still, he needed what any healthy man needs.
So Crazy Horse committed what was probably the bravest deed of his entire life.
Above: Photo by J.H. Hamilton
Native American tribes Native American tribes Native American tribes
With deepest concern and utmost respect, perhaps tinged with the personal shame he associated with any physical weakness, Crazy Horse asked his wife's permission to have another woman.
Then he averted his eyes and awaited her reaction with complete and total (for the first and only time in his life) surrender.
Tasina Sapa didn't keep him waiting long at all.
“It is well,” said Sheena. “It is what men do. I shall pretend I do not know.”
“How will you do that?” asked Crazy Horse.
“How will I do what?” asked Sheena.
“How will you pretend you do not know???” pleaded Crazy Horse.
“Pretend I do not know what?” asked Sheena.
Enough could not be said of a genuine, traditional wife.
And so it was that Crazy Horse embarked on a rocky and distracting relationship with a girl too young and immature to be of any help to him at all.
What's worse, she was used by his enemies against him. They fed her lies which, in her innocence, she repeated back to him. Other times, she lied for her own convenience.
He trusted her. He trusted the people. And yet, things made no sense. A bottomless well of contradictory thoughts confused him.
During his tenure at the Agency, an unfortunate thing happened that further angered Red Cloud, while also losing for Crazy Horse the faith of many followers.
Hundreds more hungry Lakota led by Crazy Horse had recently showed up at Red Cloud's camp in search of food. The officers had taken all of the annuities away from them after Crazy Horse had refused to sign the invoice.
Crazy Horse had witnessed the unspeakable events that seemed to occur whenever an Indian signed something.
Not fluent in the English language, he could never be entirely sure what he was signing, and was not willing to risk touching the pen, as it might somehow endanger the people.
Making matters worse, nobody else in Crazy Horse's immediate group was fluent enough in English to read the invoice to him.
With characteristic cruelty, the soldiers rode away with all those provisions, when they could have so easily put an X on the page themselves, and allowed their superiors to think that Crazy Horse had signed it.
This event led many followers to believe, perhaps correctly, that Crazy Horse was not schooled enough in the white man's ways to successfully lead them any longer.
And Red Cloud was far too busy scrambling for additional supplies (not to mention far too angry) to train him.
In August, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Little Big Man, Young-Man-Whose-Enemies-Are-Afraid-of-His-Horse, and seventy other warriors attended a meeting held by General Crook.
“The purpose of this meeting,” said the General to the braves, “is to plan a trip to Washington DC. The Great Grandfather in Washington wishes to help you. Eighteen Indians shall be chosen for this trip.”
This news was met with a befuddled murmuring.
“The men we select will be rewarded with a 40-day buffalo hunt!” added the General.
This news was met with excited cheers. Following a moment of self-congratulatory discussion among the officers, Agent Irwin spoke.
“Let's celebrate!” said Agent Irwin. “I got three head of cattle, and enough coffee and sugar to make all of us a feast!”
Again a collective loud noise of approval washed over the meeting place.
“Let's have the feast at Crazy Horse's lodge,” Man-Afraid graciously suggested.
Silence filled the room as poison fills a gas chamber.
All eyes fell on Crazy Horse, whose facial expression showed no sign of... anything.
Red Cloud stood up so abruptly his chair fell over as he stormed away from the meeting place.
An argument erupted. Confusion ensued. The meeting was adjourned, with nobody quite sure what anybody else had said.
As far as Red Cloud's pride and patience were concerned, many say this incident was the straw that broke the horse's back.
After discussing the matter with some of Red Cloud's men, Agent Irwin issued a message to the soldiers' headquarters.
The message said that Crazy Horse had always been considered an “unreconstructed Indian,” had always shown “feelings of unfriendliness towards the others,” and was “sullen, morose, and discontented at all times.”
It further stated that, in the opinion of Red Cloud's posse (especially No Water), Crazy Horse was “tricky, unfaithful to others, and only concerned with the personal interests of his own tribe.”
According to them, he was only waiting for the first opportunity to escape the agency and return to the warpath, where he would kill every white person he saw.
They concluded by recommending that Crazy Horse NOT be allowed to go to Washington DC, or on a buffalo hunt, or anywhere else.
Meanwhile, Crazy Horse continued seeking counsel with the commanding officers, but couldn't seem to pin one down for a meeting.
The officers he spoke to merely made excuses and passed the buck to other officers who, conveniently, were not around at the moment.
However, a short time later, Crazy Horse was called to meet with a number of high-ranking military personnel.
“Seein' as you love to fight,” said the Military Officer du jour,“we want you to fight the Nez Perce for us. They been givin' us a heap o' trouble lately.”
“No,” whispered Crazy Horse to his chosen interpreter.
“No,” announced his chosen interpreter.
Crazy Horse did not trust these Agency people, and was ever more confused by their mixed messages, which now swirled in his head like a tempest, looking for some logical place to land.
He could escape any time he wanted to, but his people remained here, trapped.
The officers had promised a place for his people to live. Still, in hunger, they waited.
They had invited his men on a buffalo hunt. Now the buffalo hunt had been canceled.
They had told him to stop fighting. Now they were saying to fight.
Fight. Chief Joseph.
Above: Chief Joseph, Nez Perce - photographer unknown
With the hyper-alert sharpness of a cornered animal, Crazy Horse instantly hatched a plan for his people to escape with Chief Joseph's band to Grandmother's Land.
Nearing the border, they'd sneak the women and children away in the night, then fight to the death for their freedom.
Once across the border, whatever was left of them would hook up with Sitting Bull's band and figure it out from there.
“Tell them I will lead all my men, armed and on horseback, to fight the Nez Perce," said Crazy Horse.
"The women and children must go with us. If this they allow, we will fight until every Nez Perce is dead! Tell them!” whispered Crazy Horse to his chosen interpreter, knowing fully well that Lakota warriors NEVER take their women and children on the warpath.
Tragically, the interpreter was a wicked liar. If his own words are anything to go by, this man regarded Indian people with deep disdain, although even he once said of Crazy Horse:
“He did not care for himself, but hesitated about getting his companions into trouble, for Crazy Horse was the bravest man I ever knew or met, Red, White, or Black.”
Still, the interpreter was a heartless psychopath who had long ago gained the trust of some very important men. For him, they were nothing more than an easy mark – smoke a pipe with them and they'll believe anything.
He was a man of unspecified mixed race who had spent time among the people, convincingly claiming shared blood with his dark, swarthy looks.
He understood the words Crazy Horse had spoken, but he was part of an evil conspiracy led by Red Cloud. He was also a Spy for the U.S. government against Red Cloud.
In short, he was merely one of many murderous thieves who roamed the prairies at the time, ambushing and overtaking cabins and wagon trains, slaughtering terrified, innocent families, sparing not the smallest child among them, all the while disguised as Lakota-Sioux braves.
“He says he will fight until every white man is dead,” said Frank Grouard.
An argument erupted. Confusion ensued. The meeting was adjourned, with nobody quite sure what anybody else had said. Crazy Horse looked to Grouard as the Officers rushed from the room. Grouard looked at Crazy Horse, raised his eyebrows, and shrugged with upturned palms.
“I'll go try to find out what happened,” said Grouard as he followed the officers out.
Some of Crazy Horse's friends knew that a growing number of Indians wanted him dead. So they warned him of this.
Crazy Horse dismissed their claims as delusional fantasies, unable as he was to believe – or even imagine – that his own people intended to harm him. Friends begged him to listen, but he would hear none of it.
“If they want my life,” he had calmly assured, “they can take it without trouble when my guard is down, or my back turned.”
This comment could have been more of an invitation than a dismissal of the fact.
Still, it was far from comforting to those who knew that, for so many, honor was a long-dead thing of the past, and that the sinister action Crazy Horse had just described was a plan already in place.
Still, Crazy Horse could not turn away from any who still said they needed his help. Refusal was never an option.
Of death, he was never afraid.
While Crazy Horse remained forever oblivious to the petty politics of lesser men, insidious rumors continued to fly at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies. The rumors depicted him as a dangerous man who could not be trusted.
As these rumors trickled, accidentally-on-purpose, into the white man's ears, the quicksand of paranoia set in.
Crazy Horse was planning to escape, they said. He and his men would call a meeting, they said, then kill the officers in charge and return to the old way of life.
In reality, there is no possibility that Crazy Horse thought he could get away with such a plan without endangering the lives of the people.
At that time, he was just trying to secure a small piece of land – maybe a thousand acres - for those who wished to remain this side of Grandmother's Land.
“Help us!” they had implored.
“I will,” he had said.
Meanwhile, Red Cloud and his men leaked a rumor to Crazy Horse that the whites planned to kill him in Washington DC. They did this by mentioning it within earshot of Brown-Eyes-Woman, who would surely then advise him not to go.
It never occurred to him that he was being lied to by his own beloved kind.
Lying. Killing one of your own. The two gravest, most dishonorable sins. Perhaps he forgot that Red Cloud had once murdered another Oglala Chief.
In any case, Crazy Horse had still no idea how many of his own had grown to hate him. Fear had scourged the land like a smallpox epidemic, but fear was something Crazy Horse knew not of. And so he never recognized it in another.
Crazy Horse was only postponing the trip because he had not yet made a meeting with Officers to discuss the land issue.
The military bigwigs soon called another meeting, with Spotted Tail, Red Cloud, General Crook, and General Sheridan in attendance. The white men could hardly believe that such a seemingly nice man as Crazy Horse was dangerous.
But Red Cloud assured them it was true, and Spotted Tail was too annoyed to disagree.
Spotted Tail's main concern was that the trouble associated with Crazy Horse and his “hostiles” might harm his carefully cultivated reputation as a man of peace whose goal it was to live peacefully among the whites.
As for Red Cloud, he couldn't risk any further conversation between Crazy Horse and these white men. If such a meeting were allowed to happen, it might be revealed that Red Cloud's people had been lying to Crazy Horse about how white men would murder him in Washington, and cultivating vicious rumors about Crazy Horse planning to kill the Army Officers and escape.
Red Cloud could not risk being exposed, to the white man and the red man both.
“He must be killed,” said Red Cloud, with the clinical detachment of a doctor recommending a treatment plan.
Spotted Tail did not disagree. But the white man threw a monkey wrench in the works. Crook liked Crazy Horse.
“I don't think killing him will be necessary,” said Crook, bemused by the impulsive harshness of the suggestion.
Instead, Crook ordered Crazy Horse arrested until a meeting with him could be held the next day.
Sheridan cheerfully suggested that Crazy Horse could easily be shipped off to Florida's Dry Tortugas, for a lifetime of enforced hard labor in a climate that would kill almost anyone.
But Red Cloud, as desperate as a man ever was, insisted that Crazy Horse was a tricky little fellow who would surely escape, and that if he did, he would pose a grave danger to himself and others.
So Crook ordered Crazy Horse killed if and only if he tried to escape. To this, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail vigorously agreed, assuring the nice white officers that they should expect no further trouble from that selfish little upstart.
Now Red Cloud had his alibi.
He began making arrangements for Crazy Horse to try to escape or, failing that, to appear to be trying to escape.
Red Cloud's men began loading their guns. Rumors flew. Sinister plans were made.
The sound of clicking cartridges filled the soulless air.
Crazy Horse, meanwhile, was still trying to secure a place for the people.
He knew of a land not far away, where brilliant wildflowers of scarlet and gold were splattered with abandon over cool green meadows like the work of a child's paintbrush. Elk, deer and antelope trampled the plains in abundance. Porcupines, pheasants, foxes, and squirrels lived shyly among the trees.
At the base of the dense, pine-swept mountains was a vast, open prairie whose grasses grew taller than men. Cottonwoods crowded the valley floors. Here and there grew clusters of elms, and ash trees for making bows, and box elders with sap for sweetening, and red willows with bark for the pipes.
Through it all ran the shock-blue current of Beaver Creek, whose banks were so bursting with plums and choke cherries that a woman could not reach the water's edge without knocking off an apronful of the ripe, red fruits.
This was the Chosen Land of Crazy Horse.
He wanted to accomplish at least this much before being murdered in Washington.
Crazy Horse did not object to going there. It's just that he very much wanted his people to express their desire that he go, and by the way had anyone seen them around? Where were they? And where were the Officers in charge?
No one was talking. At least not to him.
By this time, the Oglala tribes had amputated into four separate factions:
The jealous Red Cloud and his Bad Faces, who now saw Crazy Horse as a political threat and public nuisance. No-Water's gang, who, on behalf of NoWater, hated Crazy Horse. The Cutoffs, a solitary band functioning apart from the rest.
And finally, the mixed band of Lakota villagers under Crazy Horse himself, who now were scattered like a dead man's ashes over countless barren miles of Agency land.
The only people still speaking to him were the friends who tried to warn him, and Red Cloud's liars, who told him death awaited him in Washington DC.
And of course Brown-Eyes-Woman, whose wily ways distracted him all the more.
Eventually, Crazy Horse hired some detectives of his own, and learned the unspeakable truth: The object was indeed to have him killed.
On learning this, he looked around in stunned disbelief, then noticed he was being watched – eyed from all sides by Indian scouts, from a distance of several hundred yards, but still... he knew...
They already had him surrounded.
It is safe to say that he was more perplexed than afraid.
A spotted eagle followed overhead.
Crazy Horse now thought it best to speak directly with the U.S. military officers in charge of the Fort, and made immediate made arrangements to do so.
Without explanation, Crazy Horse went to the tipi where Sheena Sapa was recuperating, and took her to the camp of Touch-the-Clouds. She was, after all, his wife.
Several Indian scouts followed him far enough to see where he was headed, then raced back to Fort Robinson and reported to the authorities that Crazy Horse had abandoned camp without permission, and had disappeared.
Soon after securing the promise of a cash reward for “locating” Crazy Horse, a scout named Tackett and an interpreter made a beeline for the lodge of Touch-theClouds.
They carried with them a warrant for the arrest of Chief Crazy Horse.
On their arrival at the camp of Touch-The-Clouds, they told Crazy Horse that the U.S. Military officers were eager to speak with him, and that he must go at once.
Crazy Horse, Touch-the-Clouds, and many among their numbers hitched their horses and rode in toward Camp Sheridan, where he would seek help from Spotted Tail.
Spotted Tail's agency held the reputation of being a peaceable place. Crazy Horse hoped that his band could stay there for a while, so he could focus on negotiations with the officers in charge of the Fort.
As they traveled, more and more scouts surrounded their party. On nearing the gates of Camp Sheridan, Crazy Horse was met by Spotted Tail, Major Burke and Lieutenant Lee.
Burke and Lee shook Crazy Horse's hand like two teens meeting a scandalized film star. On and on rattled the officers about their many daring deeds, and the high old times they had at West Point.
Failing to engage Crazy Horse in trivial conversation (or any conversation), Bourke and Lee eventually ran out of things to say about themselves.
“Well!... It is very nice to have made your acquaintance, Crazy Horse, but now you must return to Fort Robinson at once,” said Lieutenant Lee with curt military efficiency.
“Some people at the fort may wish to harm him,” said Touch-the-Clouds.
“I assure you that will not be a problem,” Lee explained. “I will send a telegraph ahead, with orders to keep him safe. He will not be harmed.”
Crazy Horse leaned toward Touch-the-Clouds and whispered something to him.
“He asks if his people can stay with Spotted Tail until he returns,” said Touch-the-Clouds.
Spotted Tail was a man Crazy Horse had always held in high regard, and the Spotted Tail Agency represented the best opportunity to live in peace. But Spotted Tail, without the first word of greeting, turned to Crazy Horse and said in a loud, stagey voice the officers could hear,
“This is MY agency! As you are here, you are under MY leadership, and you will do as I say! My agency has the reputation of being a peaceable place, and I intend to keep it that way. I do not need any more trouble from you. You and your people are not welcome here. I insist that you ALL now return to Fort Robinson and speak to the officers in charge.”
Refusal was never an option.
“I will,” said Crazy Horse.
Above: A ledger drawing of the death of Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse turned and rode off, accompanied by friends, and surrounded by enemies.
Burke, Lee and Spotted Tail started back to the gates of camp Sheridan. All the way back to the gate, the officers could simply not get over the man they had just met.
“He certainly seems an affable fellow!” said Burke. “Classy, dignified, quite the gentleman. Not at all crude or outspoken like so many of them are.”
“I reckon he's an unspoiled Indian,” replied Lee. “Honest as the day is long, and as brave a man as God ever made.”
“You've only known him five minutes,” offered Spotted Tail with a soft, congenial laugh.
“Courteous, modest, and refined,” continued Burke, as if Spotted Tail didn't exist. “Sure enough one of the smarter ones.”
“Tremendously clever,” added Lee. “Obviously a man of strong character and imperishable integrity. I reckon he and I have a lot in common.”
Once back at the camp, Lieutenant Lee was so excited telling everyone he just met Crazy Horse that he completely forgot to send that telegraph to Fort Robinson as promised.
Meanwhile, Crazy Horse, his friends, and his enemies rode solemnly on, bracing themselves for the forty mile journey from the Spotted Tail Agency to Fort Robinson.
“Cousin, I need to borrow a saddle,” said Crazy Horse to Touch-the-Clouds.
“Let's stop back at my place on the way over,” said Touch-the-Clouds.
Crazy Horse lingered at the campsite of Touch-the-Clouds for several hours. Eventually, a man named Louis Bordeaux was sent to get Crazy Horse and bring him in. But just as Bordeaux was saying this, Crazy Horse was invited to the lodge of Touch-the-Clouds, where they spent time feasting on meat, bread and coffee.
When they had eaten, Bordeaux asked Crazy Horse if he would now go to Fort Robinson.
“I will,” said Crazy Horse. “Go ahead. I'll catch up.”
Bordeaux and his party crossed Beaver Creek and looked behind them. Crazy Horse was catching up, accompanied by Touch-the-Clouds and nine or ten braves, surrounded on all sides by an ever-increasing number of “friendly” Indian scouts.
As they traveled, other scouts joined the march. By the time they reached Fort Robinson, there were fifty or sixty in all.
Hundreds more met them at the gates - a seething, silent mob of angry braves, shooting daggers from their eyes with a hatred so tangible you could smell it in the evening air.
As Crazy Horse dismounted, Little Big Man rushed up and grabbed him by the arm.
“Come with me! You are a coward!” hissed Little Big Man.
Although they had once been friends, Little Big Man had since changed sides. And sucking up to the white man was not the only thing on his agenda. Little Big Man had thirsted for revenge ever since Crazy Horse had prevented him from helping himself to a woman who rabidly resisted his uninvited attention.
Crazy Horse defended the lady.
The argument would have escalated into a fistfight, but the invertebrate Little Big Man backed down.
Crazy Horse was roughly shoved toward the adjutant's office. By all accounts, he had no idea why.
An Officer told several of Crazy Horse's friends, including Touch-the-Clouds, that it was okay for them to go home for the night – Crazy Horse was safe, they assured his friends and family. They would speak with him in the morning.
But as the group was turning to leave, an army officer and Little Big Man ushered Crazy Horse to the guardhouse.
They had told him he was going to meet with the officers in charge, but instead they led him straight to the guard house.
Conveniently, the white military officers who were going to meet him there had been intercepted by a Lakota man named Woman-Dress, so named for his impeccable attire, with never a thread nor a hair out of place.
He was generally regarded by the people as far too well dressed for a man of no distinction or accomplishment of any kind. Red Cloud had sent Woman-Dress to deter these two Officers.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” said Woman-Dress creepily, pretending to have merely chanced upon them.
“Evening,” said Crook, “and where are you headed?”
“Scouting the area for Indians out past their curfew,” said Woman-Dress. “And you?”
“Office,” said Crook, unwilling to discuss military business with Indians out past their curfew.
“Oh!” exclaimed Woman-Dress, feigning surprise. “So you are still going?”
“Yes, you have decided to go anyway?”
“Anyway?? What the Hell are you talking about?”
“Oh... It's nothing, really... probably not worth mentioning.”
“I SAID... What The Hell Are You Talking About???”
“Well... it's just... a story going around... I heard a sort of... rumor...” said Woman-Dress.
“What sort of... rumor?” asked Crook.
“Well... I'm sure it's nothing, but... I heard that Crazy Horse is armed and dangerous, will kill all the white men at the meeting and escape into the hills with his band, where he will kill every white person he sees. But I am not one to gossip...”
Crook could hardly believe what he was hearing. He asked the man who was with him if Woman-Dress was a reliable source. For reasons completely unknown to this day, Crook's companion vouched for the integrity of this notorious troublemaker.
All too well known was Woman-Dress among the people for his vanity, idleness, and meddlesome behavior.
The Officers turned back, deciding not to take unnecessary chances, likely figuring they'd deal with it in the morning.
Meanwhile, Crazy Horse was being forced into the guardhouse. He was hesitant to go in, as this didn't seem an apt location for a meeting to be held.
His lookalike cousin Fast Thunder went in with him, but it soon became clear that something was wrong.
They became less able to see. A foul smell permeated the air. As their vision adjusted to the stinking darkness, three shackled men looked up at them with eyes like caged dogs.
Crazy Horse leaped for the exit.
Outside the guardhouse, Little Big Man grabbed Crazy Horse by the wrists as several sentinels stood guard with raised bayonets.
Crazy Horse swung around, struggling to free himself, as someone screamed repeatedly, “Stab the son of a bitch!”
Cartridges clicked everywhere, as a hundred Lakota men or more with loaded guns surrounded them.
Half of these men wanted to kill Crazy Horse, but hesitated to shoulder the personal responsibility for his murder.
The other half wanted to kill the half who wanted to kill Crazy Horse.
A sentinel approached and positioned his bayonet, in anticipation of the major outbreak that seemed unavoidable.
Crazy Horse released himself from the menacing grip of Little Big Man, delivering two nasty knife cuts to Little Big Man's arm.
But in breaking free, Crazy Horse lunged backward onto the sword of the guard's bayonet.
For an awful moment, a hundred men or more stopped breathing.
In sheer panic, the sentinel pulled his weapon from Crazy Horse's back, then used Crazy Horse's own red blanket to wipe the blood off it.
Crazy Horse spun completely around on one foot, and fell to earth.
His horrified friends carried him to the adjutant's office, and placed him on a blanket on the floor, as the people who had gathered outside sunk to a defiant state of unbelieving shock.
“He is fine,” insisted many. “He is Crazy Horse!”
In the adjutant's office, a doctor told them Crazy Horse was dying. The bayonet had pierced his kidney. Nothing could be done to save him now.
Soon, Waglula arrived and rushed to the side of his dying son.
“Son! I am here!” begged Waglula.
Crazy Horse opened his eyes for his father - the brave, generous hero who always brought home meat enough to feed them, and once saved a Minneconjou village.
To his father, Crazy Horse whispered a message that nobody else could hear:
“Tell them it is no use to count on me now,” were the final words of Crazy Horse.22
As Waglula and Touch-the-Clouds watched over him, Crazy Horse scanned the far-off distance, took his last breath of sweet, clean air, and broke free.
Touch-the-Clouds put his hand on the shoulder of the body of his much loved cousin.
“It is well,” said Touch-the-Clouds. “He had welcomed death, and it has come.”
A moment of silence followed. Then Waglula and Touch-the-Clouds collapsed in a drowning torrent of tears.
The officers in charge would not allow the parents of Crazy Horse to take the body of their son away from camp. They were only allowed to leave with a small trunk for their pathetically few belongings. Waglula was not even allowed to have his own bow and arrows back.
With quick-thinking help from a few mournful friends, Waglula and his wives sneaked away, their tiny trunk neatly packed with the folded up body of their son.
On their departure, a handful of Crazy Horse's followers fell to their knees and nearly died of despair on realizing that, in all the confusion, they had forgotten to paint his body red and dunk him in a stream.
Crazy Horse's body was taken by his family on a death march through the Hunkpapa village where he had lived.
No one said anything.
There was nothing to say.
The body of Crazy Horse was interred at an undisclosed location.
Word spread fast among the people, drowning all hope of denial. All were struck numb by the same sickening realization - Crazy Horse had never done anything wrong to anyone!
Had he not been brave and kind and loyal, with boundless love for his people?
Hadn't he, without complaint, fought on their behalf, all the days of his life, when all he really wanted was peace?
Had he not given everything, and asked for nothing in return?
Was he not their brave and trusted leader?
Their most humble servant?
Greatest fighter-hunter-hero ever known?
Many wondered aloud with quivering voices as the final flicker of hope disappeared,
“How could we let this happen to him? Wasn't he always... our friend?”
His life flashed before so many thousand dying eyes:
The innumerable times he fought for their survival, and won.
The silent, peaceful warrior, fighting only when attacked.
The many sparkling battle victories of which he never bragged.
Countless horses herded home, all of them given away as gifts to orphaned boys who had no horses of their own.
The magnificent young hunter alone in the snow, catching ten bison before sundown, using only his bow and arrows, then going hungry so others could eat.
The virgin warrior who saved the life of his cousin Hump in his very first battle.
The adolescent rescuing his brother from a bear!
The kid who tamed a wild buffalo calf by hanging on to it for hours as it bucked and ran, then walked it home like a dog on a leash, and fed his family for days.
The small boy who saved the life of a Northern Cheyenne girl at Bluewater.
The tiny child who called his whole world home for supper, then went hungry so others could eat.
The new baby born Among-Trees, by a creek in the Sacred Black Hills, somewhere at the Center of Creation.
The people named it Hundred-Horses-Winter.
Above: The stone structure that marks the spot
where Crazy Horse fell.
Above: The marker where Crazy Horse fell. In the background
is a modern replica of the guard house.
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-1
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-2
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-3
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-4
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-5
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-6
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-7
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-8
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Ch-9
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Appendixes
Ghost Rider: Crazy Horse Appearing - Main
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Here are some Classic Short Stories from the public domain:
Told in the Drooling Ward, by Jack London
The Ransom of Red Chief, by O. Henry
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
Go here for selected Moral Stories.
See this page for Aesop's Fables, other short stories, printable poems, and more.
Click this link to learn Why Reading Is Important.
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above image credit: uno nota de calor