My bowl is never empty. I am from Mother Earth who holds all things good. The Spirit Blesses all who come to eat at my table.
When he was born, his mother called him Cha-o-Ha, which means Among-the-Trees, because she had given birth to him in a forest. But he, once an adult, decided to take the name of his father, who died prematurely, Tashunka Wikto, which the whites translated into Crazy Horse. He had a short but legendary life: he was the leader of a Sioux tribe, led the Indian resistance with Sitting Bull, humiliated the United States army in the battle of Little Big Horn; finally he surrendered, won by a very rigid winter more than by the Blue Jackets.
Crazy Horse died on September 5, 1877, in Fort Robinson (Nebraska), bayoneted by a soldier when he was already defenseless and a prisoner. Ideally, that date marked the end of the “Indian wars” in the Great Plains, the highlight of the Far West epic. In fact, the blood continued to flow episodically for another 13 years.
But the clashes after 1877 were nothing but tailbacks of a dying world: the Native Americans had already lost. In fact Crazy Horse was the man-symbol of Indian pride: he had personally led the attack on Little Big Horn; he had remained in arms even when other Sioux leaders had slipped away; it was said that he was invulnerable to bullets.
If he was dead, for the other Sioux there was no one, beyond the myth, the former Cha-o-Ha? We know that he was born on the Cheyenne River “in the year the tribe captured a hundred horses”, corresponding to 1840-41 of our calendar. That he had unusually light hair for an Indian. What a mother of him Blanket Sonante was the daughter of an illustrious warrior, Black Bison. Who was shy and hated photographs, so much so that (unlike other Indian leaders) there are no sure images of him. Finally, that he was part of the Oglala, one of the seven tribes of the Sioux, which in reality were not called that but Lakota: Sioux (ie “Half Snakes”) was a derogatory epithet coined by rival Indians.
The wars between whites and Sioux had begun long before Coperta Sonante gave birth to the future myth, that is, in the early 1800s. A bone of contention, at the beginning, was the Mississippi Valley, which the pioneers wanted exclusively. But in 1810 an agreement was reached, known as the “Prairie of the Dog”: the east bank of the river belonged to the whites, the other to the Indians. The balance lasted until 1862. Then the fire broke out: the spark was the Bozeman Trail, a track traced in Indian territory to reach the gold-bearing areas of Montana. The Sioux rebelled, because the traffic of wagons on the track made the bison flee. The first “rebel” was called Little Crow: he was captured and killed, but the conflict continued. Other wars inflamed the West, but none were as hard for whites as the one on the Bozeman Trail: although garrisoned by forts, the trail was impassable.
So the “final solution” was decided. William Sherman, commander of the troops of the West, theorized it with lucid cynicism: “We must respond to the Sioux with violent aggression, even at the cost of exterminating women and children”. The words were followed by the facts: the most atrocious episode (1864), which also inspired a song by Fabrizio De André, did not touch the Sioux but their neighbors Cheyennes: an Indian village on the Sand Creek (Oklahoma) was attacked by soldiers by Colonel John Chivington, who massacred, raped, scalped and maimed 150-200 helpless people, regardless of gender or age. Scalps and genitals of the killed were exhibited as trophies at the Denver theater, in a hallucinating display of sadism.
It was here that Crazy Horse entered the scene, first alongside Nuvola Rossa, then Toro Seduto, finally alone. His debut (1865) was an attack on a bridge; an ambush followed (1866) at the Fort Kearny (Wyoming) garrison. The guerrillas went on for two years, then the whites came to terms: the forts would be cleared and burned. The war seemed to have ended with the victory of the Indians, but instead it had only shifted to more subtle terrain: if the Lakota could not be exterminated, they could be deprived of bison, their only resource. Thus the hunt, which the whites had practiced as early as 1850, became a systematic and encouraged massacre. The champion of the enterprise was William Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, who killed 4,000 animals alone between 1868 and 1872.
Open warfare resumed when (1874) gold was discovered in the Black Hills, hills that the Sioux considered sacred. The “general” (actually colonel) George Custer, a uniformed adventurer, already court-martialed for military crimes, tried to occupy the region. But Custer was hated by the Indians, who called him “Son of the morning star” for his habit of attacking villages at dawn, when everyone was asleep. Therefore his entry on the scene was the glue: the Sioux, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, were joined by the Cheyennes, mindful of Sand Creek. This led to Little Big Horn, where the hated officer was killed along with almost all of his soldiers. It was June 25, 1876: for Crazy Horse it was the triumph.
But it did not last long, because the following winter succeeded where Custer had failed: bent by cold and hunger, the Indians of the coalition resigned themselves to losing the Black Hills. In the spring Sitting Bull left in exile for Canada.
Crazy Horse fought his last battle in January 1877, then in May he surrendered to a refugee camp: in fact it was surrender. Months later, invited by the soldiers to Fort Robinson to discuss the future of the Oglalas, he accepted and never returned. The official version says that he died during a fight: the soldiers would have tried to lock the ex-guerrilla in his cell; he would have reacted by trying to escape and a soldier, to stop him, would have hit him with a bayonet. In fact, it seems that when Crazy Horse was hit he had already been immobilized with his bare hands by another soldier, an auxiliary. For a bitter mockery of fate, he was a Sioux passed to the enemy: he was called Little Big Man; Crazy Horse knew him from childhood.
.. good afternoon beautiful souls 🪶🪶🦋🦋🪶🪶