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Monument of ‘Crazy Horse’ quietly taking shape

Monument of Native American icon ‘Crazy Horse’ slowly taking shape in Black Hills of South Dakota. Courtesy Caleb Ziolkowski                          Monument of Native American icon ‘Crazy Horse’ slowly takes shape in Black Hills of South Dakota A

Monument of Native American icon ‘Crazy Horse’ slowly taking shape in Black Hills of South Dakota. Courtesy Caleb Ziolkowski                         

Monument of Native American icon ‘Crazy Horse’ slowly takes shape in Black Hills of South Dakota

A monument honoring Native American legend Chief Crazy Horse is slowly taking shape high above the Black Hills of South Dakota.

For nearly 70 years, crews have been blasting millions of tons of rock off the mountain, initiated by the late sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who began construction in 1948. His work on Mount Rushmore drew the attention of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who invited him to design a memorial to American Indians.

The Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana, says the man in this picture is Crazy Horse. Native historians and photography experts aren’t so sure. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Crazy Horse Monument is expected to take another 20-25 years to complete.

“He said my fellow chiefs and I would like the White man to know the Red man had great heroes to,” Ziolkowski told CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

His daughter Monique now oversees the work.

Crazy Horse’s face was completed in the late 90s. Crews are now working to shape the horse’s head and Crazy Horse’s outstretched hand.

Caleb Ziolkowski is the third generation of his family to work on the project.

“It is hard from a mile away to see the changes,” he said. “Since the time that I started this hand area has changed immensely.” Native Americans say whenever it’s done it will provide a valuable education and ensure Crazy Horse’s place in history.

The work is privately funded through admission fees and donations. In addition to a museum, the master plan for the site includes an Indian University of North America.

Brief history of the Lakota Sioux legend

Through the late 1850s and early 1860s, Crazy Horse’s reputation as a warrior grew, as did his fame among the Lakota. The Lakota told accounts of him in their oral histories. His first kill was a Shoshone raider who had murdered a Lakota woman washing buffalo meat along the Powder River. Crazy Horse fought in numerous battles between the Lakota and their traditional enemies, the Crow, Shoshone, Pawnee, Blackfeet, and Arikara, among Plains tribes.

In 1864, after the Third Colorado Cavalry decimated Cheyenne and Arapaho in the Sand Creek Massacre, Oglala and Minneconjou bands allied with them against the U.S. military. Crazy Horse was present at the Battle of Platte Bridge and the Battle of Red Buttes in July 1865. Because of his fighting ability and for his generosity to the tribe, in 1865 Crazy Horse was named an Ogle Tanka Un (“Shirt Wearer”, or war leader) by the tribe.

Upon completion, Crazy Horse will be depicted mounted on his horse with left arm extended pointing to the Black Hills expanse of which the Lakota Sioux reigned.

On Dec. 21, 1866, Crazy Horse and six other warriors, both Lakota and Cheyenne, decoyed Capt. William Fetterman’s 53 infantrymen and 27 cavalry troopers under Lt. Grummond into an ambush. They had been sent out from Fort Phil Kearny to follow up on an earlier attack on a wood train. Crazy Horse lured Fetterman’s infantry up a hill. Grummond’s cavalry followed the other six decoys along Peno Head Ridge and down toward Peno Creek, where several Cheyenne women taunted the soldiers. Meanwhile, Cheyenne leader Little Wolf and his warriors, who had been hiding on the opposite side of Peno Head Ridge, blocked the return route to the fort. The Lakota warriors swept over the hill and attacked the infantry. Additional Cheyenne and Lakota hiding in the buckbrush along Peno Creek effectively surrounded the soldiers. Seeing that they were surrounded, Grummond headed his cavalry back to Fetterman.

The combined warrior forces of nearly 1,000 killed all the US soldiers in what became known at the time to the white population as the Fetterman Massacre. It was the Army’s worst defeat on the Great Plains up to that time.The Lakota and Cheyenne call it the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand.

On Aug. 2, 1867, Crazy Horse participated in the Wagon Box Fight, also near Fort Phil Kearny. Lakota forces numbering between 1000 and 2000 attacked a wood-cutting crew near the fort. Most of the soldiers fled to a circle of wagon boxes without wheels, using them for cover as they fired at the Lakota. The Lakota took substantial losses, as the soldiers were firing new breech-loading rifles that could fire 10 times a minute compared to the old muzzle-loading rate of three times a minute. The Lakota charged after the soldiers fired the first time, expecting the delay of their older muskets before being able to fire again. The soldiers suffered only five killed and two wounded while the Lakota suffered between 50 and 120 casualties. Many Lakota were buried in the hills surrounding Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming.

 Great Sioux War of 1876–77

On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led a combined group of approximately 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne in a surprise attack against brevetted Brigadier General George Crook’s force of 1,000 cavalry and infantry, and allied 300 Crow and Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud. The battle, although not substantial in terms of human losses, delayed Crook’s joining with the 7th Cavalry under George A. Custer. It contributed to Custer’s subsequent defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

A week later at 3 p.m. on June 25, 1876, Custer’s 7th Cavalry attacked a large encampment of Cheyenne and Lakota bands along the Little Bighorn River, marking the beginning of his last battle. Crazy Horse’s actions during the battle are unknown.

Hunkpapa warriors led by Chief Gall led the main body of the attack. Crazy Horse’s tactical and leadership role in the battle remains ambiguous. While some historians think that Crazy Horse led a flanking assault, ensuring the death of Custer and his men, the only proven fact is that Crazy Horse was a major participant in the battle. His personal courage was attested to by several eye-witness Indian accounts.

Water Man, one of only five Arapaho warriors who fought, said Crazy Horse was the bravest man he ever saw. “He rode closest to the soldiers, yelling to his warriors. All the soldiers were shooting at him, but he was never hit.”

Sioux battle participant, Little Soldier, said, “The greatest fighter in the whole battle was Crazy Horse.” Crazy Horse is said to have exhorted his warriors before the fight with the battle cry “Hóka-héy!” — “Today is a good day to die!” The quotation is inaccurately attributed. The earliest published reference is from 1881, in which the phrase is attributed to Low Dog. The English version is not an accurate translation from the Lakota language,

On Sept. 10, 1876, Captain Anson Mills and two battalions of the Third Cavalry captured a Miniconjou village of 36 tipis in the Battle of Slim Buttes, South Dakota.  Crazy Horse and his followers attempted to rescue the camp and its headman, (Old Man) American Horse but they were unsuccessful. The soldiers killed American Horse and many of his family after they holed up in a cave for several hours.

On January 8, 1877, Crazy Horse’s warriors fought their last major battle at Wolf Mountain, against the U.S. Cavalry in the Montana Territory. His people struggled through the winter, weakened by hunger and the long cold. Crazy Horse decided to surrender with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska.

 Last Sun Dance of 1877

The Last Sun Dance of 1877 is significant in Lakota history as the Sun Dance held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and to offer prayers for him in the trying times ahead. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest but did not take part in the dancing. Five warrior cousins sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. The five warrior cousins were three brothers, Flying Hawk, Kicking Bear and Black Fox II, all sons of Chief Black Fox, also known as Great Kicking Bear, and two other cousins, Eagle Thunder and Walking Eagle. The five cousins were braves considered warriors of distinction.

Crazy Horse and other northern Oglala leaders arrived at the Red Cloud Agency, located near Fort Robinson, Neb. on May 5, 1877. Together with He Dog, Little Big Man, Iron Crow and others, they met in a solemn ceremony with First Lt. William P. Clark as the first step in their formal surrender.

For the next four months, Crazy Horse resided in his village near the Red Cloud Agency. The attention that Crazy Horse received from the Army drew the jealousy of Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, two Lakota who had long before come to the agencies and adopted the white ways. Rumors of Crazy Horse’s desire to slip away and return to the old ways of life started to spread at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies. In August 1877, officers at Camp Robinson received word that the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph had broken out of their reservation in Idaho and were fleeing north through Montana toward Canada.

When asked to join the Army against the Nez Perce, Crazy Horse, and the Miniconjou leader Touch the Clouds objected, saying that they had promised to remain at peace when they surrendered. According to one version of events, Crazy Horse finally agreed, saying that he would fight “till all the Nez Perce were killed.” But his words were apparently misinterpreted by a half-Tahitian scout, Frank Grouard, a U.S. Cavalry scout during the summer of 1876. Grouard reported that Crazy Horse had said that he would “go north and fight until not a white man is left.” When he was challenged over his interpretation, Grouard left the council. Another interpreter, William Garnett, was brought in but quickly noted the growing tension.

With the growing trouble at the Red Cloud Agency, General George Crook was ordered to stop at Fort Robinson. A council of the Oglala leadership was called, then canceled, when Crook was incorrectly informed that Crazy Horse had said the previous evening that he intended to kill the general during the proceedings. Crook ordered Crazy Horse’s arrest and then departed, leaving the post commander at Fort Robinson, Lt. Col. Luther P. Bradley, to carry out his order.

Additional troops were brought in from Fort Laramie on Sept. 4, 1877, two columns moved against Crazy Horse’s village, only to find that it had scattered during the night. Crazy Horse had fled to the nearby Spotted Tail Agency with his wife, who had become ill with tuberculosis. After meeting with military officials at Camp Sheridan, the adjacent military post, Crazy Horse agreed to return to Fort Robinson with Lt. Jesse M. Lee, the Indian agent at Spotted Tail.

On Sept. 5, 1877, Crazy Horse and Lieutenant Lee, accompanied by Touch the Clouds as well as a number of Indian scouts, departed for Fort Robinson. Arriving that evening outside the adjutant’s office, Lt. Lee was informed that he was to turn Crazy Horse over to the Officer of the Day. Lee protested and hurried to Bradley’s quarters to debate the issue, but without success. Bradley had received orders that Crazy Horse was to be arrested and taken under the cover of darkness to Division Headquarters.

Lee turned the Oglala war chief over to Capt. James Kennington, in charge of the post guard, who accompanied Crazy Horse to the post guardhouse. Once inside, Crazy Horse struggled with the guard and Little Big Man and attempted to escape. Just outside the door, Crazy Horse was stabbed with a bayonet by one of the members of the guard. He was taken to the adjutant’s office, where he was tended by the assistant post surgeon at the post, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, and died late that night.The following morning, Crazy Horse’s body was turned over to his elderly parents, who took him to Camp Sheridan and placed him on a burial scaffold. The following month, when the Spotted Tail Agency was moved to the Missouri River, Crazy Horse’s parents moved the remains to an undisclosed location.

There are at least four possible locations as noted on a state highway memorial near Wounded Knee, SD. His final resting place remains unknown.

Courtesy United States History. Wikipedia contributed to this feature.

 

 

 

 

 

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