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Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who fought against removal to an Indian reservation. He took part in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Crazy Horse - Vision Quest (2:21)
Crazy Horse - Early Life (3:28)
Crazy Horse - Death (4:02)
An inside look into the first vision quest that famed Native American warrior Crazy Horse went on.
Learn about the early life of Crazy Horse, a member of the Lakota tribe within the Sioux Nation.
Learn about the circumstances that led to the death of famed Native American warrior Crazy Horse.
An inside look at the Battle of Little Big Horn between the Native Americans and forces led by General George Custer.
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Crazy Horse was born c. 1840, near present-day Rapid City, South Dakota. He was an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who fought against removal to a reservation in the Black Hills. In 1876 he joined with Cheyenne forces in a surprise attack against Gen. George Crook; then united with Chief Sitting Bull for the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In 1877, Crazy Horse surrendered and was killed in a scuffle with soldiers.
An uncompromising and fearless Lakota leader who was committed to protecting his people's way of life, Crazy Horse was born with the Native American name Tashunka Witco around 1840 near what is present-day Rapid Springs, South Dakota.
The details of how he came to acquire the name Crazy Horse are up for debate. One account says that his father, also named Crazy Horse, passed the name on to him after his son had demonstrated his skills as a warrior.
Even as a young boy, Crazy Horse stood out. He was fair-skinned and had brown, curly hair, giving him an appearance that was noticeably different from other boys his age. These physical differences may have laid the groundwork for a personality that even among his own people made him a loner and a bit distant.
Crazy Horse's birth had come during a great time for the Lakota people. A division of the Sioux, the Lakota represented the largest band of the tribe. Their domain included a giant swath of land that ran from the Missouri River to the Big Horn Mountains in the west. Their contact with whites was minimal, and by the 1840s the Lakota were at the peak of their power.
In the 1850s, however, life for the Lakota began to change considerably. As white settlers began pushing west in search of gold and a new a life out on the frontier, competition for resources between these new immigrants and the Lakota created tension. Military forts were established in parts of the Great Plains, bringing in even more white settlers and introducing diseases that took their toll on the native Indian populations.
In August 1854 everything boiled over in what became known as the Grattan Massacre. It started when a group of white men, led by Lieutenant John Grattan, entered a Sioux camp to take prisoner the men who had killed a migrant's cow. After Chief Conquering Bear refused to give in to their demands, violence erupted. After one of the white soldiers shot and killed the chief, the camp's warriors fought back and killed Grattan and his 30 men.
The Grattan Massacre is widely considered the conflict that kicked off the First Sioux War between the United States and the Lakota. For the still young Crazy Horse, it also helped establish what would be a lifetime of distrust for whites.
As conflicts escalated between the Lakota and the U.S., Crazy Horse was at the center of many key battles.
In one important victory for his people, Crazy Horse led an attack on Captain William J. Fetterman and his brigade of 80 men. The Fetterman Massacre, as it came to be known, proved to be a huge embarrassment for the U.S. military.
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