INVESTIGATING HISTORY: Who Killed Crazy Horse?
Crazy Horse was the young, mystical leader of the Sioux and has come to symbolize Indian resistance to the white advance westward. His leadership in the 1876 defeatat Little Big Horn makes him the most famous Indian warrior in America, a reputation he holds to thisIronically, like many revered soldiers day. is a controversial and often despised figure among his own people and the white world. The manner of his death, and just who is responsible for it, has remained a hotly debated topic due to that very fact.
After a year of fighting following the Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse surrenders his band to General George Crook at Red Cloud Agency on May 6th, 1877. Sitting Bull and his people flee to Canada leaving Crazy Horse as the last holdout. Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and other agency chiefs send runners out to convince Crazy Horse to come in.
The favored treatment that he receives from the army and the influence he has over the young men in the agencies worries the older chiefs. Resentments grow strong, especially among Red Cloud’s people. Crazy Horse, once Red Cloud’s protégé, is now stronger than his teacher.
In August of 1877, in a bizarre twist of events, General Crook, of the U.S. Army, asks Crazy Horse to lead Sioux scouts against the Nez Perce, who are grabbing headlines and public sympathy in their flight toward Canada. At first he refuses, but finally relents and agrees.
When the time comes for the scouts to march north with the soldiers, Crazy Horse claims illness and cannot go. The army interpreter responsible for translating Crazy Horse’s words is Frank Grouard. This is an unfortunate for Crazy Horse since Frank despises the great Indian warrior. When asked to translate why Crazy Horse cannot go and fight, Frank mistranslates the warrior’s words into a threat to go out and join the Nez Perce and fight the soldiers.
General Phil Sheridan, Custer’s mentor, then orders Crazy Horse arrested and imprisoned in Florida. Learning of the news, Crazy Horse flees to his uncle Spotted Tails’ camp where he is convinced to surrender. On September 5th, 1877, Indian police and troops under Lt. W.P. Clark take Crazy Horse to Fort Robinson.
All seems well until Crazy Horse realizes that he is not being given amnesty. He is about to be imprisoned. Resisting arrest, he is held in place by his former friend, Indian policeman, Little Big Man, while a soldier bayonets him in the back. He dies that evening.
Who killed Crazy Horse? Is it a military conspiracy led by Sheridan and Crook and undertaken by Lt. Clark? Is it Red Cloud and the other agency chiefs spreading rumors to panic the soldiers into eliminating this threat to their rule? What is the true role of the enigmatic Frank Grouard? And finally, what is the role of the mysterious Crazy Horse in his own destruction?