36 Years of Crazy Horse and His People
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36 Years of Crazy Horse and His People
When I think back to the stories about how the Native American Indians were driven from their land and forced to live on the reservations, one particular event comes to my mind. That event is the Battle of the Little BigHorn. This was one of the few times that the Oglala Sioux made history as being the victors of a battle. When stories are told, or when the media dares to tamper with history, it is usually the American Indians who are looked upon as the bad guys. They are portrayed as savages who spent their time raiding wagon trains and scalping the white settlers for enjoyment. The media has lead us to believe that the American government was forced to take the land from these savage Indians. But we need to put the blame where it belongs, on the U.S. Government who lied, cheated, and stole from the Oglala. In turn, forcing Crazy Horse, the great war chief, and many other leaders to surrender their nation in order to save the lives of their own people.
In the nineteenth century the most dominant nation in the western plains was the Sioux Nation. This nation was divided into seven tribes: Oglala’s, Brule’, Minneconjou, Hunkpapa, No Bow, Two Kettle, and the Blackfoot. Of these seven tribes each had different bands. Crazy Horse, one of the greatest war chiefs of all times, came from the Hunkpatila. The Hunkpatila was a band of the Oglala’s (Guttmacher 12).
Crazy Horse was not given this name, on his birth date in the fall of 1841. He was born of his father, Crazy Horse an Oglala holy man, and his mother a sister of a Brule’ warrior, Spotted Tail. As the boy grew older his hair became wavy so his people gave him the nickname of Curly (Guttmacher 23). He was to go by Curly until the summer of 1858, after a battle with the Arapaho’s. Curly’s bravery in a charge against the Arapaho’s led his father to give him the name Crazy Horse. This was the name of his father and of many fathers before him (Guttmacher 47).
In the 1850’s, the white settlers began invading the country where the Sioux Nation lived. They tore into the land with plows and hunted the sacred buffalo just for the hides. Being a very ecological society this went against the morale and religious beliefs of the Sioux. Not only did the white settlers tear up the land and hunt buffalo but they also began to build forts, and in 1851 Fort Laramie was built along the North Platte River in Sioux territory. This was the beginning of hard times between the settlers and the Indians (Matthiessen 6).
In 1851, the settlers began complaining that the Indians would not allow them to cross their lands; therefore, U.S. Agents drew up a treaty that required the Indians to give safe passage to the white settlers along the Oregon Trail. In return the government promised yearly supplies of guns, ammunition, flour, sugar, coffee, tobacco, blankets, and bacon for fifty-five years. In addition, the treaty divided the plains into separate territories and each tribe was not to cross the border of their territory. The treaty also wanted no wars to be waged on other tribes. To ensure that no wars would break out between other tribes, the U.S. Agents wanted each Indian nation to choose a leader that would speak for the entire nation. Many Indians did not like this treaty and only after weeks of bribery did the whites finally convince a sizable group of leaders to sign. The Oglala’s were among those who refused (Matthiessen 6).
This Treaty still did not stop the trouble between the Indians and the settlers. The Indians did nothing to cause violent trouble they would perhaps approach a covered wagon to trade or extract gifts of food. Even the most daring warrior might make away with a metal pot or pan but nothing violent like the books and movies lead us to believe (Matthiessen 7).
The straw that broke the camels back took place on August 17, 1854 when the relations between the Indians and Whites were shattered. Among the settlers heading west was a group of Mormons and as they were passing, a few miles
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Red Clouds War, Plains tribes, American Old West, Sioux Wars, Battle of the Little Bighorn, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Spotted Tail, Conquering Bear, Sioux, Arapaho, Lakota people
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