CRAZY HORSE'S INDIAN ARMY



Who led the baddest Indian Army? 

Many Native American people say it was Crazy Horse. 

Scroll down to continue reading Crazy Horse Appearing.

See (above) the ONLY fully authenticated photo of Crazy Horse known to exist. 


Scroll down to continue the story of the Crow Indian Army that attacked Crazy Horse's Oglala camp in 1844, when Crazy Horse was still a baby. 

Also see the story of Crazy Horse as a small child, inviting his whole village home for supper. 




Above: This peaceful 19th century Lakota village could become an Indian Army on a moment's notice. 

image credit: pinterest.com



Crazy Horse Appearing

by Judee Shipman


Chapter 1a

The Crow Indian Army Of Crazy Horse's Childhood




Above: a 19th century Chippewa woman and her baby.

image credit: Pinterest.com




Now crushed by guilt and mourning his own dead wife, Waglula gave away all of his possessions and disappeared for the next four years. He saw no reason to stay. His life was ruined. His reputation, destroyed. Who would seek the healing of a bad heart from a man whose own wife had chosen death? 

And his son was yet a baby. Early childcare was the work of the women who cried as he rode away. 



As a very small child in the Oglala camp, Crazy Horse lived with Waglula's remaining three wives and his grandma, Waglula’s mother. 

At the Brule camp, he stayed with his Uncle Lone-Horn and his male cousins Spotted-Elk, Touch-the-Clouds, Roman-Nose, and Frog, along with Sheena's three sisters, Good-Looking-Woman, Iron-Cedar, and Looks-At-It. Looks-At-It was later known as They-Are-Afraid-Of-Her, allegedly following a fight with her husband. 



The next few years were good ones for tribal villagers of the plains, unmindful as many of them probably were of the sinister, behind-the-scenes events that would destroy them. 

Crazy Horse was playing with tiny bows and pointless arrows harmless enough to shoot from inside a tipi when America declared war on Mexico. 

Soon after that, the Oregon Treaty established a border between the U.S. and Canada, a frigid northern wilderness known to the people as Grandmother's Land. 

Then Samuel Colt sold the first revolver pistol to the U.S. government. 

Then America's first gold rush drew herds of hungry prospectors stampeding west when the story broke in the New York Herald. 

Then the fur trade collapsed as traders abandoned their traps, cleaned their rifles, and bid on buffalo skins. 

Some would sink as low as to profit by hiding whiskey in their wagons, slyly concealed beneath hand woven, blue and orange Mexican trade blankets. 

Finally, the U.S. Government purchased Fort Laramie from the American Fur Company, and occupied it with troops. 



The stage was now set for the Indian Wars. 




Among the Oglalas, 1848 was the winter when Chief American Horse, the picture writer, captured the loveliest Absaroka maiden he could swear he'd ever seen, and gave her to some the finest young braves of his Indian Army as a gift. 

The braves had been complaining of not getting any good gifts lately.

Some had gone as far as to openly question American Horse's influence as a Chief.

And so it was with tremendous pomp and pride that the Chief presented his men with this exquisite, shimmering, human specimen of fluttering femininity. 


What is your name?” asked one of the men. 

Bacheé!” cried the Crow maiden in distress, tugging unsuccessfully to release herself from the Chief's firm grip on her soft, delicate wrist. 

Hau, Bacheé,” said the lustful, leering Oglala brave. 


They didn't speak a single word of Crow but no one cared. The braves were delighted with their pretty prize until they learned the hard way that she was really a man and killed her.

Their embarrassment was multiplied on later learning that “Bacheé” means “man” in Crow language.

People who were not Chief American Horse, his braves, or a transgendered Crow found this extremely amusing.5 




Above: A 19th century Crow woman with her baby.

image: brittanica.com





At the Crazy Horse lodge, it was the winter when Waglula came home to raise his son.

Traditionally, a boy was raised primarily by female relatives for the first few years of his life. After that, father, male cousins, and uncles took over. It was then that a boy's life skills training began in full force. From then on, a boy would learn the skills needed to join an Indian Army. 


How nervously Waglula must have approached his former lodge, his pony drag overloaded with fresh killed game. How carefully he must have rehearsed introducing himself as a complete stranger to his now nearly five-year-old son, dreading the cold suspicion he would have expected to see in the boy's eyes. 

Waglula might have even wondered if Crazy Horse knew all about his father, the deplorable man who caused the death of the boy's mother, then walked out on his other wives and abandoned his only son.

Surely, his wives would be angry with him, if in fact they were still there at all.

In any case, Waglula had brought much meat to feed them, so even if his presence proved unwelcome, the boy would see his father bring meat. 


Waglula entered the lodge. The boy glanced up in a casual manner. 


Hau, Adewayeki,” said Crazy Horse in a rare display of words, then immediately went back to his five-year-old business, with all three moms looking on. 


Waglula was incredulous! Did his son really say “Hello, my father,” as if the man had never left? 


Indeed, Waglula was welcomed home with cheerful smiles and open arms.

Corn Woman rushed up to him, swooped his equipment out of his hands and hung it in that special place on a tipi wall reserved only for the Head of a Household.

Gathers Grapes ran up and hugged Waglula, then wiped her own tears from his face with her hand and immediately began preparing supper.

Red Leggins kissed Waglula, then made a bed of buffalo robes and beckoned him to sit down and rest. 

The sisters felt responsible for what had happened, and had done their very best to make it good again. Never once had they blamed the man they loved. For him, they would have waited forever.

And Crazy Horse knew all about his father - the brave, generous hero who always brought home meat enough to feed them, and who once led his Indian Army to save a Minneconjou village. 


Never a word was spoken of those tragic days past. Despite his cruel disappearance, Waglula's wives had kept his memory alive.

This made Waglula so happy he hosted a giveaway, inviting villagers to his lodge and sharing his family's meat until there was only one meal left for each of them.6 


Some time later on a cold, dreary day at the end of March (known to the people as Snow Blind Moon), the Crazy Horse household was even quieter than usual. The camp had found itself snowed in. Scheduled hunting parties had been forced to cancel their plans. The overall food supply was dangerously low.

Children moaned with hunger for days. The old and the sick were dying of ailments easily remedied with nothing more than hot soup and warm robes. 


There seemed no solution but to wait. 


Waglula had provided meat enough to feed his family for the winter, but the giveaway had earlier diminished the supply. And visitors continued to arrive long after the giveaway had ended. And visitors were always fed because Waglula had the heart of a Chief, if not the common sense of one. 

Then the storms had come so sudden and severe, pelting the earth without mercy for ten sleeps running. Visibility at times was near none. Below zero temperatures cut like a sharp steel blade.

Waglula climbed a rock and scanned the vast, jagged landscape that looked as though the earth had not an animal upon it. There once were so many. Where had they gone? He shifted his gaze to another direction. The river was frozen hard enough for twenty men on horses to cross it, too thick to break through and catch fish. In any case, Lakota people lived on large game animals. A fisherman Waglula was not. 


Seeing nothing move but many tiny shards of ice against the bone chilling backdrop of a kidney colored sky, Waglula wrapped his robe around his neck and headed home.


Back inside the lodge he sat, chin in hand, and thought a while, then looking up, caught the worried glances of his wives. Red-Leggins had a baby on the way. The boy who would be Crazy Horse stood quietly by his father, staring ahead like the brave little warrior he already was, eagerly, yet patiently, awaiting the instructions of his Chief.

It may have never crossed the little boy's mind that, hungry as they were, there was no food to be found. His father always brought home meat enough to feed them. 

The women kept busy with their household tasks, trying to keep their minds off the hunger. Gathers-Grapes made moccasins. Red-Leggins stoked the fire. Corn-Woman tidied up the lodge.

No one said anything. There was nothing to say.

Neither did they move much, as they had to conserve whatever stored energy their bodies still held. 

Red-Leggins stared longingly at the unused cooking fire.

Gathers-Grapes sniffed the rawhide sole of a moccasin she was making, as if wondering how it would taste with wojapi.

Corn-Woman wearily mended torn garments.

Waglula's mother forced a cheerful smile.

The boy's stomach growled so loudly someone outside might have heard it.

Waglula could not stand to look at these people. 


Without a word, he grabbed his gear and left. Crazy Horse scooped up his pint sized bow and arrows, hoisted them onto his shoulder, and trotted along to join the hunt, but a dismissive wave of his father's hand forbade it. The boy was not yet six years old.

Someday, Crazy Horse would lead an Indian Army, but on this day, all he could do was peek forlornly outside the tipi as his father trudged the slanting storm alone, disappearing among the shadowed folds of towering rock, somewhere in Wyoming's Big Horn Mountains. 


Waglula hunted diligently in the hip-deep snow, apparently determined to come home with meat, or not come home at all. He was gone for several days.

At last, somewhere in the vast beyond, Waglula crouched motionless for many hours until finally, during a break in the storm, they appeared. 


Waglula returned home on one exhausted mustang with two freshly killed antelopes tied to the pony drag. Out came running his three starving wives wielding stone-sharpened knives, keen on slicing one at the belly and eating its guts before Waglula could even untie them. But a full night of sub-zero lifelessness had rendered the meat harder than the cooking stone.

The best they could do was haul one inside, warm it near the fire, and wait. 


Red Leggins stoked the fire. 


Gathers-Grapes made moccasins. 


Waglula's mother hummed a hunting song. 


Once thawed, the first few bites of raw liver were devoured with ravenous glee, so hungry they all were by then. Now finally able to think straight, Gathers Grapes carefully peeled the hide from the flesh like a jacket. The skin of the chest and forelegs would be used to make a shirt. Red Leggins chopped off the animal's hooves. These would later be tied to a stick and used as a rattle at the dance.

Then all three women began separating the muscle and preparing the meat, carefully dividing it into meal-sized portions. These, they figured, should last until the Moon of New Grass Appearing, by now only seven suns away. 

Corn-Woman was first with the notion to offer some meat to the Silent One. Only then did they notice the boy was gone, yet his voice echoed clean through the village.

Overcome with excitement and pride, this child who nearly never spoke had jumped on his pony without permission, and was racing round the rocky draws like the legend of Paul Revere. 


Talo! Talo!” cried the child, in a triumphant, high-pitched holler, his left hand clutching the pony's mane, his right hand waving them homeward. 


Among the people, a boy could ride a horse and shoot straight with a bow and arrow by the time he was six years old. Crazy Horse was even younger.

Imagine these ethereal beings of so tender an age, flying on the smooth, bare backs of wild ponies.

Shooting tiny arrows from miniature bows custom made for their soft, small hands.

Cherubic voices echoing down the badlands canyons: 


Hoka HEY!... Hey!... hey!... hey!... hey!” 


According to those who would know, this is how they were. 


By the time the boy returned, sick people, widows, and elderly villagers had formed a line without end outside Waglula's lodge. The family was compelled to share the meat until there was only one meal left for each of them.

But the boy was so excited and so proud of his Father-Hero-Chief that he hardly touched his food. 

About a day later, Crazy Horse was hungry and asked, with a simple, silent hand signal, one of his moms to feed him. Gathers-Grapes reminded him that he'd given away all the food the night before.

Now realizing what he had done, the boy began to cry. After all, he was five. 


Talo! Talo!” cried the child. 


His mother reminded him how it was: 


The people praise you,” she said. “Now be a big boy and uphold your reputation.” 


Crazy Horse knew not yet what was meant by “reputation,” but something about “the people praise you” made him run to the lodge's entrance, pull the flap, and look outside. 

All around him, villagers smiled. Children played contentedly. Braves from his Indian Army saluted when they saw him. A grandma cast an admiring glance his way. A maiden called him a very brave young man. 


A man!!! 


The little boy's tears dried quickly. This thing called “reputation” pleased the people, and knowing this made him forget, for a moment, the hunger. 




Above: 19th century Lakota women with babies in cradle boards; man on horse. The tipi is a prop, comparable in size to a child's treehouse. A typical Indian Army village would feature many tipis 20 feet high or more, arranged in a semi circle near a creek. 

image credit: pinterest.com





Crazy Horse Appearing

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 2

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 3

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 4

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 5

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 6

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 7

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 8

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 9

Crazy Horse's Indian Army - Chapter 10


Crazy Horse Appearing - Appendixes


Crazy Horse Appearing - Main Page




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Told in the Drooling Ward, by Jack London


The Ransom of Red Chief, by O. Henry


The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter



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