Crazy Horse Crazy Horse When I think back of the stories that I have heard about howthe Native American Indians were driven from their land andforced to live on the reservations one particular event comes tomy mind. That event is the Battle of the Little Big Horn. It isone of the few times that the Oglala Sioux made history with thembeing the ones who left the battlefield as winners. When storiesare told, or when the media dares to tamper with history, it isusually the American Indians who are looked upon as the bad guys.They are portrayed as savages who spent their time raiding wagontrains and scalping the white settlers just for fun. The mediahas lead us to believe that the American government was forced totake the land from these savage Indians.
We should put the blamewhere it belongs, on the U.S. Government who lied, cheated, andstole from the Oglala forcing Crazy Horse, the great war chief,and many other leaders to surrender their nation in order to savethe lives of their people. In the nineteenth century the most dominant nation in thewestern plains was the Sioux Nation. This nation was divided intoseven tribes: Oglala’s, Brule’, Minneconjou, Hunkpapa, No Bow,Two Kettle, and the Blackfoot. Of these tribes they had differentband. The Hunkpatila was one band of the Oglala’s . One of the greatest war chiefs of all times came from thisband.
His name was Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was not given this name, on his birth date inthe fall of 1841. He was born of his father, Crazy Horse anOglala holy man, and his mother a sister of a Brule’ warrior,Spotted Tail. As the boy grew older his hair was wavy so his people gave him the nickname of Curly . He was togo by Curly until the summer of 1858, after a battle with theArapaho’s. Curly’s brave charged against the Arapaho’s led hisfather to give Curly the name Crazy Horse.
This was the name ofhis father and of many fathers before him . In the 1850’s, the country where the Sioux Nation lived, wasbeing invaded by the white settlers. This was upsetting for manyof the tribes. They did not understand the ways of the whites.When the whites tore into the land with plows and hunted thesacred buffalo just for the hides this went against the moraleand religious beliefs of the Sioux. The white government began tobuild forts.
In 1851, Fort Laramie was built along the NorthPlatte river in Sioux territory . In 1851, the settlers began complaining of the Indians who would not allow them to go where they wanted. U.S. Agents drew upa treaty that required the Indians to give safe passage to thewhite settlers along the Oregon Trail. In return the governmentpromised yearly supplies of guns, ammunition, flour, sugar,coffee, tobacco, blankets, and bacon.
These supplies were to be provided for fifty-five years. Ten thousand Sioux gathered at thefort to listen to the words of the white government and to beshowered with gifts. In addition the treaty wanted the Indians toallow all settlers to cross their lands. They were to divide theplains into separate territories and each tribe was not to crossthe border of their territory. The treaty also wanted no wars tobe waged on other tribes.
They wanted each Indian nation tochoose a leader that would speak for the entire nation. ManyIndians did not like this treaty and only after weeks of briberydid the whites finally convince a sizable group of leaders to sign. The Oglala’s were among those who refused (Matthiessen 6). This Treaty however did not stop the trouble between theIndians and the settlers. The Indians however, did not causeviolent trouble, they would perhaps approach a covered wagon totrade or extract gifts of food. The most daring warrior might make away with a metal pot or pan but nothing violent like thebooks and movies lead us to believe .
The straw that broke the camels back took place on August17, 1854 when the relations between the Indians and Whites wereshattered. Among the settlers heading west was a group of Mormonsand as they were passing, a few miles south of Fort Laramie, anIndian stole a cow. The Mormons reported this to Lieutenant HughB. Fleming, the commander of the post. Fleming demanded that theoffender, High Forehead of the Minneconjou, face charges. ChiefConquering Bear suggested that the Mormons come to his herd of ponies and pick out the best pony he had to replace the cow,which to the Sioux these ponies were their wealth. This seemed tobe a very gracious offer.
Fleming would not agree and sentLieutenant John L. Grattan to bring back the warrior. WhenGrattan arrived at Conquering Bears camp, he was given anotheroffer. This time they could choose five ponies from five herdsamong the tribes. Grattan refused and began to open fire. This outrageous act of war was not calledfor.
The Mormons would have surely been satisfied with the poniesor the money the ponies would have bought. The government justdid not want to keep the Indian-White relationship peaceful.Crazy Horse, then called Curly, was only thirteen when thesoldiers and the Indians fought. The Indians outnumbered the soldiers and won the battle. Crazy Horse eventually became a leader of his people. Intoday’s society our leaders are given money and gifts but in thetimes of Crazy Horse it was almost the opposite. He was expectedto live modestly, keep only what he needed and give away therest. After hunting he would give the needy the choicest meat andkeep the stringy meat for himself. He did however, have the honorand prestige that allowed him to make the decisions for the tribe.
As well as other Sioux leaders, Crazy Horse lead his peopleinto the Powder River country. The reason for this move was toleave behind the ways of the white man and continue living theways of the Sioux. The white man had brought to their countrysickness, liquor and damaging lifestyles much different from thelifestyles of the Sioux. In 1865, U.S. officials wanted to obtain land from theIndians.
They offered many different bribes, such as gifts andliquor, to the Indians who lived around the forts. They were very good at making the sell of land seem temporary and they convincedmany that what the right thing to do was sell. The land theywanted was access land into the Powder River country. Thegovernment did not have the luck they needed in obtaining theland with money or bribes. So in the summer of 1865 they sentmore than two thousand soldiers from Fort Laramie into the PowderRiver country.
In 1866 the government, knowing that the land they wantedwas worth much more, offered the Sioux fifteen thousand dollarsannually for access into Powder River country. The Indians didallow whites to use the Bozeman Trail just as they allowedimmigrants to use the Holy Road. The U.S. Government had an obligation to protect its citizens but not to provoke a crisis.They did create a crisis when they established forts in the heartof Oglala territory. After conquering the confederates the U.S.Army was full of optimism and wanted desperately to have an allout war to exterminate the Sioux.
Although the Indians wereallowing the whites to use the Bozeman Trail, the government wasnot satisfied. They wanted the legal right to use the trail. E.B.Taylor, a government agent at one of the Indian Offices,tricked some of the Indian Leaders into going to Fort Laramie in1866 for a treaty. He deliberately attempted to deceive them; hesaid nothing about building forts along the trail, only that theywanted to use the Bozeman Trail. He offered them guns,ammunition, gifts plus money.
The Indians did not sell (Ambrose213-214). In June 1867, the government officials produced a newtreaty. This treaty, like all the ones before, only promisedlavish gifts to those who would sign. One of the Oglala chiefs,Red Cloud, wanted more for his nation than the simple giftsoffered. He wanted the troops to move from the forts; Reno, …