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CRAZY HORSE | Leader of Lakota

Updated on November 7, 2012

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse was a respected war leader of the Lakota, who fought against the U.S. federal government in an effort to preserve the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life. He took up arms against the U.S. Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. After surrendering to U.S. troops under General Crook in 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Crazy Horse


Crazy Horse (Lakota: Thasuka Witko, literally "His-Horse-is-Crazy")(ca. 1842 - September 5, 1877) was a respected war leader of the Lakota, who fought against the U.S. federal government in an effort to preserve the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life.

Crazy Horse Early Life


Sources differ on the precise year of Crazy Horse's birth, but all seem to agree that he was born between 1840 and 1845. According to He Dog, a close friend, he and Crazy Horse "were both born in the same year and at the same season of the year", which census records and other interviews place at about 1845. Chips, an Oglala medicine man and spiritual adviser to the Oglala war leader, reported that Crazy Horse was born "in the year in which the band to which he belonged, the Oglala, stole One Hundred Horses, and in the fall of the year", a reference to the annual Lakota calendar or winter count. Among the Oglala wintercounts, the stealing of one hundred horses is noted by Cloud Shield, and possibly by American Horse and Red Horse owner, equivalent to the year 1840-41. Oral history accounts from relatives on the Cheyenne River Reservation place his birth in the spring of 1840. Probably the most credible source, however, is Crazy Horse's own father. On the evening of his son's death, the elderly man told Lieutenant H. R. Lemly that his son "would soon have been thirty-seven, having been born on the South Cheyenne river in the fall of 1840."

Crazy Horse was born with the name 'In The Wilderness' or 'Among the Trees' (in Lakota the name is phonetically pronounced as Cha-O-Ha) meaning he was one with nature. His nickname was Curly. He had the same light, curly hair as his mother.

Crazy Horse Videos

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Biography - Crazy Horse: The Last Warrior
Biography - Crazy Horse: The Last Warrior

He fought to the end to protect the lands that had been his people's since time immemorial. His death marked the end of an era. Crazy Horse cut his teeth fighting with the Olgala chief Red Cloud against United States troops in Wyoming. He earned a place in legend and signed his own death warrant for his role in Custer's last stand. BIOGRAPHY travels back to the waning days of the frontier for a revealing portrait of one of the great Indian leaders. Leading historians and elders of his Sioux tribe offer their take on his life and legend, while period accounts, art and artifacts show the fervor that marked his pursuit and capture by U.S. forces after the Little Big Horn. Join BIORAPHY for a stirring profile of a noble warrior who gave everything he had in a desperate and futile struggle to preserve the freedom and dignity of his people.

Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse & The Black Hills
Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse & The Black Hills

In addition to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, you'll discover the beauty of Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Devils Tower and Badlands National Park. Here, in towns like Deadwood and Lead, legends such as Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane lived and died. Includes the Crazy Horse Dream - hear Korczak Ziolkowski's vision of the Crazy Horse Memorial and his family's continued efforts to carry on the dream.


What Do You Know About Crazy Horse?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am very anxious to see the Crazy Horse memorial.

    • Paperquest5 profile image

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      @lclchors: IcIchors, thanks for dropping by, liking this lens and leaving a comment.

    • lclchors profile image

      lclchors 5 years ago

      think the Native American were treated like crap by the US goverment. I very much admire Crazy horse

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      Paperquest5 6 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: bloomingrose, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I agree, Crazy Horse's story needs to be told.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      I have nothing but the deepest respect for Crazy Horse, and I have seen the memorial that is being build. His story needs to be told, thanks for sharing this.

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      Peopleneeds 8 years ago

      Great story about crazy horse...

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