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Horn Chips Recalls Crazy Horse
THE CHIPS INTERVIEW:
Crazy Horse was born at the foot of Bear Butte, near the present Fort Mead, S. D., in the year in which the band to which he belonged, the Oglala, stole one hundred horses, and in the fall of the year. [Note: this means autumn of 1841. Hardorff does the winter count year-math wrong (click here for more info on Lakota Winter Counts) and calculates that Crazy Horse was born in 1840; actually he was born in the fall of 1841 from what Horn Chips says here. An 1841 birthdate also tallies with Horn Chips' statement that Crazy Horse was 36 years old when he was murdered by the U.S. Army.]1
He was born with light hair and was called by the Indians the Light Haired Boy. His hair was always light. It did not reach to the ground as stated by Garnett [Billy Garnett], but did reach below his hips. His grandfather, Makes the Song, had a dream that Crazy Horse would be called Crazy Horse. When Crazy Horse was just twenty-one years old, the Oglalas had a fight with the Crows and Rees and others whose language they could not understand, and in this fight he counted his coup in this manner: A Shoshone lay dead on the field in a position that none would approach to strike the body. Crazy Horse's horse became unmanageable and carried his rider wildly about and up within reach of the Shoshone['s] body and Crazy Horse struck and counted coup, and from the crazy conduct of the horse the rider was dubbed Crazy Horse.2 Chips was four (4) years older than Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse's father's name was Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse's mother was a Minneconjou, but Chips does not know her name. 3
Crazy Horse was a man small in statue, rather light in frame and weight, [and] light in complexion. The wound [inflicted] by No Water for Crazy Horse taking his wife, did not change the color of his complexion; and this wound was in his face, the ball entering at the side of the nose, low down on the right side, and coming out at the base of the skull on the back side.4 [Note: Horn Chips offers the obligatory contradiction here; everyone else in the eye-witness records said the wound was on the left side of Crazy Horse's face.]
Chips saw No Water after he had shot Crazy Horse. Little Big Man saw Crazy Horse draw his knife when No Water entered the double lodge, and he seized and held Crazy Horse, and No Water shot him, and then took his wife.5
Chips says that when we were young all we thought about was going to war with some other nation; all tried to get their names up the highest, and whoever did so was the principal man in the nation; and Crazy Horse wanted to get to the highest rank station.
Chips was a medicine man to Crazy Horse and gave him a feather, and he now has the feather; it is not the feather he was wearing when he was killed. Bull Head at Cheyenne River Agency has the feather that Crazy Horse wore to his honor, whatever that may be. The interpreter, Peter Schweigerman, explains that when an Indian did a brave and conspicuous deed he was given a feather. 6
Crazy Horse never wore a war bonnet. He did not paint as the Indians usually do; but he made a zigzag streak with red earth from the top of his forehead, downwards and to one side of his nose at the base, to the point of the chin. This was done with one finger. He striped his horse with a mould from the earth.7
Chips and Crazy Horse were raised together. The only time they separated was when Fort Fetterman was established. Crazy Horse went north and Chips came with the white people. Chips was in the Fetterman massacre. The Indians who fought there were Oglalas and Minneconjous. He says fourteen Indians were killed there. American Horse was there. American Horse did not lead the decoy party. Chips says he wants to tell the truth.8
Crazy Horse was not accounted good for anything among the Indians but to make war; he was expected to do that; he was set apart in their minds to make war, and that was his business.
The greatest act of personal bravery on his part was when he was fighting the Shoshones; his horse was shot under him and he sprang forward to the enemy and counted coup.9
Crazy Horse was held in estimation by all Indians as the greatest living warrior among the red men of the earth. He has Crazy Horse's war sack.10 Chips was not at the Custer battle, but Crazy Horse told him about it. Reno did not make much of a fight. There was fighting with the Ree scouts [and] they made a charge and killed two (2) Indians. Reno did not make any fight of importance.11
Chips says that Crazy Horse told [him] that there were about three thousand (3000) warriors who fought against Custer. Five Ree scouts were killed-one wore a large medal suspended from his neck. Thirty-two Indians were killed in all the fighting-thirty-two on the side of the hostiles. There were quite a number wounded, but they lived through. (I do not count strongly on this statement of casualties.)12
He says there are two stories among the Indians-one is that Custer was killed on a hill, and the other that he was killed in a ravine. The ravine story is without [a] particle of foundation as to Custer being killed in it, or that he marched his command into it.13 [Note: actually, eye-witness record indicates that Custer was in fact killed at the bottom of a ravine, Medicine Tail Coulee. The most compelling -- and probable -- Indian story about the killing of Custer is White Cow Bull's account of shooting an officer on a "sorrel horse with... four white stockings" at the river at the beginning of the Custer fight. See Who Killed Custer -- The Eye-Witness Answer for more info.]
After the Indians surrendered and got into intercourse with the whites, Gall made some notable speeches and made quite a man of himself; but he was not looked upon among the Indians as a warrior at all.14
Grass was a peaceable man who always lived around the agency, and Chips calls him a Loafer. He was never known to do any deed of note. 15
At the time of the fight against the Cheyennes [Dull Knife's village, November, 1876], Crazy Horse was camped on the Little Big Horn.
When the Indian scouts went out in the winter of 1876-1877 to coax Crazy Horse to come in, he was camped on a branch of the Tongue River-the Indians called the branch Otter Creek. Chips went out with the party to coax Crazy Horse to come in. He promised he would come in the spring, and Chips and others came with him as far as Powder River and there separated from him. Chips brought Crazy Horse Sr. into Spotted Tail Agency.16
When Crazy Horse fled from his camp below Red Cloud he went to Beaver [Creek] and came to Chips' lodge which was at the camp some three miles below Camp Sheridan. Chips went with Crazy Horse to the fort. No warriors chased the Indian scouts from Fort Robinson -- nobody chased anybody.
When Crazy Horse arrived at the camp on Beaver [Creek], Crazy Horse and Chips, accompanied by a great many, went up to Camp Sheridan. When there, the officer in command asked Crazy Horse if he wanted to go back to Red Cloud [Agency], or stay at Camp Sheridan and be confined in a cellar until he would start on his way to see the Great Father in Washington. He told the officer he would like to keep his country, and [that] he would go back to Red Cloud. This was all [that] was said, and the next morning he started for Fort Robinson. Chips went with him. The Brule agent or Spotted Tail agent (the same) (the interpreter suggests it was Major Lee) selected two Indian scouts to go back with him. When they got to Red Cloud, all the Indian scouts had their guns cocked to shoot him, but he was guarded by good boys. They went on into the fort and Crazy Horse went into the house, but Chips did not go in, and he does not know what was said. When Crazy Horse came out, an officer on one side held up his left hand, 17 and Little Big Man on the other side held up his right hand, taking him to the guardhouse. After he was taken to the guardhouse, he refused to go into the cell, but he was inside the building. Chips was inside with him-right behind him. One of the Brules was in there with Crazy Horse, and he offered to go in and be locked up and stay with him. The Brule was Turning Bear who offered to go in; he started ahead and the passage led down into the ground, but when Turning Bear saw where they were going, he stopped and said it was a hard place they were going into. Crazy Horse turned back to go out of the guardhouse, and the Indian scouts had their guns cocked to kill him if he refused to go into the guardhouse. The officer and Little Big Man both were still holding on to him. Crazy Horse made a grunt and struggled. He did not say a word. Crazy Horse got outside of the building. Chips did not see the soldier stab Crazy Horse with his bayonet. When the soldier jerked the bayonet from Crazy Horse's body, he hit Chips in the shoulder with the butt and dislocated his shoulder, which is still dislocated. (Which I do not take great stock in.) 18
Chips buried his body, and he is the only person who knows where it is. Crazy Horse was buried on the Beaver by the cliffs. When the Indians went down to the Missouri River his body was removed to White Clay Creek and buried; and when they returned, Chips and his brother went and took up the body to see if it had been disturbed, and finding that it had not been, they reinterred it. The burial the first time near the cliffs was in a frame house lined with scarlet cloth.19 His body was once buried on White Horse Creek, above Manderson, but it was moved from there to Wounded Knee where it now is. Chips put the bones into a black blanket and laid them in a butte rock cave. There is no petrifaction-no flesh-nothing now but bones. The shot through the head by No Water shows in the skull.
Crazy Horse was wounded twice-once in the head and once in the calf of the leg.20
Crazy Horse killed in the Custer battle sixteen persons, and fifteen in the Reno fight. This is problematical -- largely so. Crazy Horse had one brother who was killed by a white man in a war with whites. He has no near relatives living.
Chips is the one who made Crazy Horse's medicine for him. He is the one who gave him the medicine that he would be killed with a knife while his arm was held, as he sagely informed the author. Chips was the one who told him not to wear a warbonnet, nor to paint, except to use the streak down his countenance which represented the lightning. There is no truth in the story of the horseman coming out of the pond and telling Crazy Horse what to do.22 We wear a feather to distinguish us for our deeds. Crazy Horse wore a little stone on the left side. Chips has these articles which belonged to Crazy Horse. They are different altogether. The medicine was the spotted eagle's heart, and it was the medicine of such persons as he [Chips] gave it to; this was Crazy Horse's medicine which he rubbed on himself when he went into battle, and [which] was his protection; and when it was used before going into action no bullet would touch him. His medicine would protect him against the knife if his arm was not held; but if it was held he would not be protected.
Chips lives on No Flesh Creek; the next creek west is Little Wound Creek The next west of this is American Horse Creek. No Flesh and Little Wound unite about one mile north of Kyle, and from the point of junction the stream is called Medicine Root.
Richard G. Hardorff's Notes:
Chips Interview notes:
1 Crazy Horse was born in 1840. See Richard G. Hardorff "Stole-One-Hundred-Horses Winter: The Year the Oglala Crazy Horse was Born," Research Review, The Journal of the Little Big Horn Associates (June, 1987):44-47. [Note: actually, Hardorff has done the Winter Count year math wrong. As best we can tell, Crazy Horse was born in the fall of 1841. See The Winter Count of Crazy Horse's Life for more info.]
2 This would have taken place in 1861. However, He Dog, who thought Crazy Horse was born in 1838, stated that the latter was given his name when he was about eighteen years old after a fight with Arapahoes (Gros Ventres?) who made a stand on a high hill covered with big rocks, near a river. This incident may have taken place in 1857 when Lakota winter counts recorded that a war party of Oglalas and Minneconjous killed ten enemies on Captive Hill, at the head of the Moreau River, near present Spearfish, South Dakota. This same incident of tribal warfare, and the prominence displayed by Crazy Horse and his cousin Kicking Bear, is mentioned in the Thunder Tail Narrative, Holy Rosary Mission Files, Marquette University. See Hinman, "Oglala Sources," p. 11; James H. Howard, "Dakota Winter Counts as a Source of Plains History,"Anthropological Papers, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethology, Bulletin 173 (Washington, 1960), p. 385; Blish, A Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux, p. 117. Chips' statement may explain the cause of the name change but not the origin of the name because both Worm and Makes the Song had been known as Crazy Horse. See Hinman, "Oglala Sources," p. 11; and DeBarthe, Life andAdventures of Frank Grouard, pp. 179-80. For a different explanation of the name see the account by He Dog in Clark, The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse, p. 68.
3 The name of Crazy Horse's mother was Rattle Blanket Woman. Born about 1815, she was a Minneconjou by birth and probably was related to the powerful Lone Horn family whose name frequents the Minneconjou winter counts. Evidence suggests that she committed suicide about 1844 due to severe mental depression caused by the death of a relative. See the Interview with Mrs. Eagle Horse, June 1918, Camp Manuscripts, IU, p. 271; Victoria Conroy to James H. McGregor, December 18,1934, in the appendix hereafter; Rapid Cityjournal, November 29,1986.
4 This shooting took place on Powder River during the summer of 1870, two days after No Waters wife, Black Buffalo Woman, left her husband for Crazy Horse. The assault was accomplished with a handgun. Striking the face near the nostrils, the bullet glanced off the underlying bone structure and deflected through the fleshy layer of the gum and the cheek, fracturing the upper jaw before exiting at the neck near the base of the skull. Although Chips stated that the ball entered the right side of Crazy Horse's face, other contemporary sources strongly suggest it was the opposite side. According to He Dog, the bullet struck the jawbone just below the left nostril. This location is confirmed by George W. Oaks, a teamster, who saw Crazy Horse at Camp Robinson several times and commented that he "had quite a scar on his left cheek." William J. Bordeaux, son of Louis Bordeaux, also corroborated the location of the scar on the left cheek through information received from Crazy Horse's sister, Mrs. Joe Clown, and other contemporaries. The final corroborating evidence is provided by an unidentified reporter for the New York Sun who met Crazy Horse in May of 1877 and who wrote that the "bullet wound through his left cheek ... disfigured his face and gives to the mouth a drawn and somewhat fierce or brutal expression." See Hinman, "Oglala Sources," pp. 12, 16; Ben Jaastad, Man of the West: Reminiscences of George Washington Oaks, 1840-1917 (Tucson, 1956), p. 44; William J. Bordeaux, Custer's Conqueror (no place, no date), p. I; New York Sun, May 23,1877.
5 The best description of this incident is given by He Dog in Hinman, "Oglala Sources," pp. 12,15-18. A few months after the shooting Black Buffalo Woman gave birth to a lighthaired little girl, rumored to have been Crazy Horse's daughter.
To count coup was principally the touching of an armed enemy during a combat situation, the display of contempt being heralded by the Plains Indians as one of the most glorious acts of warfare. For an explanation of coup honors, see Royal B. Hassrick, The Sioux: Lift and Customs ofa Warrior Society (Norman, 1964), pp. 96-97.
7 According to Garnett, Crazy Horse performed the following ritual before going into battle: "taking some of the dirt thrown up by the pocket gophers, he would rub it on his horse in lines and streaks -- not painting him, but passing this dirt over him in this way with his hand; and he would spat a little of the same on his own hair in a spot or two, and put in his hair also two, or three straws of grass, two or three inches long. As I understand it, the man from the lake [a water spirit] told him to use the straws and the dirt as described." Gamett Interview, Ricker Collection, NSHS, reel l, tablet 1, no pagination. This ritual is also described in the Eagle Elk Interview hereafter.
8 The Fetterman Fight took place on December 21, 1866, near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory, during which a combined force of Oglalas, Minneconjous and Cheyennes decoyed and killed Captain William J. Fetterman and his command of seventy-eight soldiers and two civilians. For a scholarly treatment of this battle see Dee Brown, Fort Phil Kearny: An American Saga (Lincoln, 1971); for a listing of the fourteen Lakota casualties, see Stanley Vestal, Warpath, The True Story of the Fighting Sioux, Told in a Biography of Chief White Bull (Lincoln, 1984), p. 67. According to Charles A. Eastman, the decoy party was led by Crazy Horse; see Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains (Boston, 1918), p. 94.
10 "This war sack was actually a medicine bundle, stored in a bag made from tanned animal skin, and which contained the claws and dried heart of the spotted eagle. These objects, imbued with protective powers, were part of a powerful medicine bundle given to Crazy Horse by Chips after the No Water shooting in 1870. See the Camp interview with Chips hereafter.
11 On June 25,1876, Major Marcus A. Reno and three companies of the Seventh Cavalry led an abortive attack on the Indian village at the Little Bighorn. Reno's conduct, like that of his superior, Gen.George A. Custer, has been the subject of considerable controversy. For a biography of Reno, see John Upton Terrell and George Walton, Faint the Trumpet Sounds (New York, 1966). Consisting of some twenty-five warriors, Custer s auxiliary force of Arickara (Rees) Indians may have been responsible for the deaths of as many as four Lakotas and two Cheyennes. During Reno's charge the Rees killed Swift Bear and White Bull, both Hunkpapa Lakotas. See Hardorff, Lakota Recollections, p.110.
12 Ricker is premature in his criticism because Chips' casualty count is corroborated by numerous independent sources. See Richard G. Hardorff, Hokahey! A Good Day to Die! The Indian Casualties of the Custer Fight (Spokane,1993).
13 Custer's body was found six feet southwest of the present commemorative monument on Custer Hill. However, a stone placed by the War Department in 1890 to identify Custer's kill site is actually some fifty feet from the correct location. See Richard G. Hardorff, Markers. Artifacts and Indian Testimony Preliminary Findings on the Custer Battle (Short Hills, 1985), pp. 2-7.
14 Gall was bom in a Hunkpapa camp on Grand River, South Dakota, in 1840. Throughout his non-reservation life he proved himself a fierce opponent to the white aggressors. In 1867 he was bayonetted by soldiers and left for dead near abandoned Ft. Berthold. Miraculously, Gall recovered enough from the shock of his wounds to make his escape before daylight, walking twenty miles in severe winter weather to the lodge of a relative.
Gall survived his ordeal and it was said that he killed seven whites out of vengeance, among whom was Lt. Eben Crosby on October 14, During the Custer Battle in 1876 Gall's family was killed. He avenged their deaths by killing and mutilating a number of Custer's troopers, and fearing reprisals, he took his band to Canada. He surrendered to the U.S. Military at Poplar Creek, Montana, in 1880. His conduct on the reservation was exemplary, and he later became a justice of the Indian Police Court at Standing Rock. Gall passed away on December 5, 1893, and lies buried at Wakpala, South Dakota. See Lewis F. Crawford, Rekindling Camp Fires: The Exploits of Ben Arnold. (Bismarck, 1926), pp.166-68; Usher L. Burdick, David F. Barry'sIndian Notes on the Custer Battle (Baltimore, 1949), pp. 33, 35.
15 Grass was an Oglala band chief and a signer of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868. A note in the Camp Manuscripts reveals that Grass once was wounded and captured by soldiers near Platte Bridge. Expecting to be killed, he was instead taken to the post's hospital and was restored to health. Grass vowed never to fight the whites again. He and his band settled near the Oglala agency and became known as Wagluhe Oyate, people who loafed around the forts. Grass is not to be confused with John Grass, who was a Blackfoot Lakota. Camp Manuscripts, IU, p. 275.
16 Leading a small camp of Oglalas, the elder Crazy Horse traveled with his wife's Minneconjou relatives, Touch the Clouds and Roman Nose, to Camp Sheridan, Nebraska, where he and some 256 lodges of Northern Lakota bands surrendered to Gen. George A. Crook on April 14, 1877. See Jesse M. Lee to the Commanding Officer, Camp Sheridan, April 5, 1877, Official Documents, and the Greencastle Banner, April 26, 1877. For a scholarly treatment of this episode, see Harry H. Anderson, "Indian Peace-Talkers and the Conclusion of the Sioux War of 1876," in Nebraska History (December, 1963) : 233-254.
17 This was Captain James Kennington, Fourteenth Infantry, who served as Officer-ofthe-Day on September 5,1877.
18 Chips' statement is corroborated by Louis Bordeaux who told Ricker that the butt of the guard's rifle struck Chips' shoulder and broke the latter 's collar bone. See the Bordeaux Interview hereafter.
"Reference is made to the cliff burial near Camp Sheridan where on September 6 relatives sepulchered the remains of Crazy Horse in a coffin draped with red blankets, on a three-feet-high scaffold. See Frank Leslie 's Illustrated Newspaper October 20,1877.
20 A New York Tribune reporter confirms the existence of two bullet wounds, one of which was in Crazy Horse's face, resulting in an "ugly scar." However, in an interview with Walter Camp, Chips revealed that Crazy Horse had bullet scars not only on his leg, but also on his arm. The plurality of injuries is confirmed by Red Feather who commented that Crazy Horse was wounded twice when he began his fighting career, which statement excludes the No Water wound which was sustained much later. According to Crazy Horse's cousin Eagle Elk, the arm wound was sustained during a fight with Pawnees when Crazy Horse was just a very young boy. The second scar resulted from a gunshot wound received in a fight with Utes when a bullet struck Crazy Horse in his left calf. The latter information was obtained from Owns Horn, a Minneconjou cousin of Crazy Horse. See the New York Tribune, May 7, 1877; the Chips Interview with Walter Camp hereafter, Hinman, "Olglalas Sources," p. 30; the Eagle Elk Interview hereafter, and the Campbell letter to Eleanor Hinman, October 13, 1932, in the appendix hereafter.
21 "The name of Crazy Horse's half brother was Little Hawk. Born about 1846, he was the only child conceived out of Worm's second marriage with two Brule women, the sisters of Spotted Tail. Lakota elders claimed that Little Hawk exhibited traits which eventually would have made him a greater man than Crazy Horse, if not for his rashness. He was slain in combat in 1870 while Crazy Horse was convalescing from the No Water shooting. See Hinman, "Oglala Sources," p.14
22 Chips' answer was in reference to the following Garnett statement recorded by Ricker: "Garnett heard Crazy Horse in 1868 tell about his 'medicine.' It was up in the vicinity of the Rosebud that it occurred. Whether this appeared to him in a dream or trance or whether he was self-mesmerized, Garnett does not know. But Crazy Horse told the story that he was near a lake. A man on horseback came out of the lake [a water spirit] and talked with him. He told Crazy Horse not to wear a war bonnet [and] not to tie up his horse's tail. (The Indians invariably tie up their horses' tails in a knot.) This man from the lake told him that a horse needed his tail for use; when he jumped a stream he used his tail and [also] at other times, and as Crazy Horse remarked in telling this, he needs his tail in summer time to brush flies. So Crazy Horse never tied his horse's tail, [and he] never wore a war bonnet. It is said he did not paint his face like other Indians. The man from the lake told him he would never be killed by a bullet, but his death would come by being held and stabbed, as it actually was." See the Garnett Interview, Ricker Collection, NSHS, reel 1, tablet 1, no pagination. For another vision by Crazy Horse involving water, see the Flying Hawk Interview in McCreight, Firewater and Forked Tongues, pp. 138-39, in which a reference to straws of grass tends to corroborate Garnett's statement in footnote 7. In spite of Chips' denial, the water spirit did give certain instructions to Crazy Horse which, if adhered to, would apparently prevent his death. However, it was the nearly-fatal shooting by No Water in 1870 that led to Chips' eagle Wotawe, which made Crazy Horse bulletproof.
The Death of Crazy Horse: A Tragic Episode in Lakota History edited by Richard G. Hardorff, Bison Books, Lincoln, NE, and London 2001 p 70 - 83
Oglala medicine man Horn Chips, also called Chips and Encouraging Bear, was a childhood freind of Crazy Horse's. He made Crazy Horse's medicine bag, and his eagle horn. Here is another statement about Crazy Horse from Horn Chips.
The battlefield manuever Horn Chips describes Crazy Horse using against the people "whose language they could not understand" -- where Crazy Horse's pony reared and danced wildly as if out of control -- is reminiscent of the levade manuever from European dressage.
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