In 1851 our tribe was part of the Great Fort Laramie Treaty Council. Its purpose was to allow the whites to build roads and establish military posts in return for annuities of food, ammunition, cloth and whiskey. This was the first of many treaties with the whites. Usually the whites didn’t uphold their end of the bargain and sometimes our chiefs wouldn’t even sign the treaties because they didn’t want to agree with the terms. Annuities were usually late if they came at all. The things that did come were often spoiled and very poor quality. The Indian agents stole most of the good stuff and gave the Lakota the rancid meat and thin cloth that the agents had no use for. Because they couldn’t hunt, the tribes that depended on the annuities became weak, sick and malnourished. In 1857 our chiefs called all the Teton Lakota together for a council at Bear Butte. Never had we seen such a camp. For the first time, Crazy Horse met Sitting Bull and the other great ones from the northern Lakotas. They vowed to resist every white who pushed in anywhere on Teton lands. After the Great Teton Council, we Oglalas and some of the other tribes decided to move north away from the whites and the forts. We wanted to live the old ways and do without the annuities. It worked for a few years. If only the whites could have coexisted with those who were already there. In 1864 the soldiers killed an entire group headed by three of the peace seeking chiefs who were camped on the land their agent had marked out for them. This massacre at Sand Creek was the start of Crazy Horse’s war against the whites.
CRAZY HORSE – THE WAR LEADER 4 The first time that Crazy Horse interacted with US soldiers in his role as war leader was in July 1865 at Platte Bridge. Crazy Horse led a small group that acted as a decoy to lure the soldiers out of their defensive position. Leading the decoy warriors became Crazy Horse’s specialty. He developed into a highly skilled guerilla fighter and had a natural ability as a military leader. The US soldiers persisted in building forts in what was Lakota homeland. The Lakota persisted in trying to keep them out. In December 1866, Crazy Horse led the warriors who ambushed and defeated Col. Fetterman and eighty soldiers outside of Fort Phil Kearny on the Bozeman Trail. The whites referred to this as the Fetterman Massacre. Crazy Horse had come to realize that it was to be either the whites or the Native Americans who would live in the Black Hills region. It could not be both. One group would have to be driven out. For the next ten years Crazy Horse led his band of warriors repeatedly against the whites who were pouring into the Black Hills and against the agents of the US government who were trying to force the Lakota onto reservations.
- Summer '16
- Lakota people, Sioux, Crazy Horse, Black Hills, Crazy Horse Monument