On September 5, 1877, Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) was killed while resisting his captivity in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. During a struggle, a U.S. soldier stabbed Crazy Horse with a bayonet. Many things are still debated about that day, including the name of the soldier and how Crazy Horse resisted, but it was the end of the great military leader of the Oglala Lakota.
Crazy Horse was one of the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana Territory in 1876. After the infamous battle, U.S. soldiers had pursued Crazy Horse and his followers until the Native Americans, suffering cold and starvation, surrendered in May 1877.
In 2005, singer-songwriter Marty Stuart released Badlands: Ballads Of The Lakota, a concept album about Native American history and struggle. Stuart brought his outstanding musical and storytelling skills to the music, as he had done for other concept albums, including his excellent The Pilgrim (1999).
On the epic song “Three Chiefs” on Badlands, Stuart sings from the point of view of Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse. He recounts what they might have said after their deaths when they went to another world.
In the segment in the song about Crazy Horse, the song recounts his death: “In a jailhouse in Nebraska, it was on September 5,/ Crazy Horse was fighting hard to keep himself alive.” After his death, he meets God, who asks what Crazy Horse has to say. Crazy Horse responds:
“Upon suffering. Beyond suffering. The Red Nation shall rise again.
And it shall be a blessing for a sick world.
A world filled with broken promises. Selfishness and separations.
A world longing for light again.”
Crazy Horse foretells that the Native Americans will bring healing to the land of suffering.
“I see a time of seven generations when all of the colors of mankind
Will gather under the sacred tree of life.
And the whole earth will become one circle again.
And that day, there will be those among The Lakota,
Who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things.
And the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.”
After Crazy Horse’s death, his body was placed on a burial scaffold, and later his parents took his remains to an undisclosed location. Experts suspect the remains are in an area around Wounded Knee, South Dakota, but no one is sure of the exact location.
As Stuart sings, “Touch the Clouds took his body, back home to his family,/ Nobody knows where they laid him down, to set his spirit free.” Below is a Bio documentary’s excerpt about Crazy Horse’s death.
Photo via public domain. Leave your two cents in the comments.
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