Crazy Horse

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Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse, d. 1877, war chief of the Oglala Sioux. He was a prominent leader in the Sioux resistance to white encroachment in the mineral-rich Black Hills. When Crazy Horse and his people refused to go on a reservation, troops attacked (Mar. 17, 1876) their camp on Powder River. Crazy Horse was victorious in that battle as well as in his encounter with Gen. George Crook on the Rosebud River (June 17). He joined Sitting Bull and Gall in defeating George Armstrong Custer at the battle of the Little Bighorn (June 25). In Jan., 1877, Gen. Nelson Miles attacked his camp, and Crazy Horse and his followers spent the rest of that winter in a state of near starvation. Numbering about 1,000, they surrendered at the Red Cloud agency in May. Imprisoned because he was rumored to be planning a revolt, Crazy Horse was killed while reportedly attempting to escape. His bravery and skill were generally acknowledged, and he is revered by the Sioux as their greatest leader. Near Custer, S.Dak., the Crazy Horse Memorial, depicting the chief mounted on horseback, has been under construction since 1948.


See biographies by M. Sandoz (1942, repr. 2004), E. A. Brininstool (1949), L. McMurtry (1998), and K. M. Bray (2006); T. Powers, The Killing of Crazy Horse (2010).

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Crazy Horse

(1842–1877) Indian chief who led Sioux against the white men in the northern plains. [Am. Hist.: EB, III: 225–226]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Crazy Horse

Indian name Ta-Sunko-Witko. ?1849--77, Sioux Indian chief, remembered for his attempts to resist White settlement in Sioux territory
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Crazy Horse (b. Tashunka Witco)

(?1842–77) Oglala Sioux chief; born near the Black Hills near present-day South Dakota. His mother was a sister of Brulé Chief Spotted Tail and his father was an Oglala medicine man who often spoke of the need for a leader to unite the Sioux and drive out the whites. As a youth, Crazy Horse was solitary and meditative—the Sioux called him "Strange One"—but also an accomplished hunter and fighter. He participated in all of the major Sioux actions to protect the Black Hills against white intrusion, believing himself immune from battle injury. In 1865 he was selected as a "shirt wearer," or protector of the people, in recognition of his valor and achievement and he took part in the main battles of Red Cloud's war (1865–68). In 1876 he was named supreme war and peace chief of the Oglalas, uniting in struggle most of the Sioux still free. In January 1876 he led the Sioux and Cheyenne to victory at the battle of Rosebud; that July he led these same tribes' warriors in defeating Custer's forces at Little Bighorn. Pursued by U.S. forces, with his band of some 1,000 facing starvation, he surrendered in May 1877. White fear and Indian jealousy led to intrigue against him and finally to his death at the hands of a U.S. soldier—allegedly while resisting being forced into a jail cell. He is regarded as a symbol of the heroic resistance of the Sioux and as their greatest leader, and a gigantic figure of Crazy Horse has been sculptured (by Korczak Ziolkowski) out of mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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In those days, I was an unlikely Chief Crazy Horse with skin as white as toothpaste and a war-whoop to pierce any adult eardrum.
* Tallest Free-Standing Statue: Chief Crazy Horse, Thunderhead Mountain, South Dakota, USA, begun in 1948 by Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and continued after his death in 1982 by his widow and eight of his children ( 563ft tall (unfinished).
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