Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...
He Dog Remembers Crazy Horse #2
HE DOG REMEMBERS CRAZY HORSE #2
Question: Dr. Charles Eastman, whose Indian name is "Ohiyesa," has written in a book that Crazy Horse, when he was a young man, was intimate friends with a famous Oglala war chief called Hump or High Back Bone. We wonder if He Dog can tell us anything about this man and his friendship with Crazy Horse.
Answer: High Back Bone and Crazy Horse were sworn friends and went on nearly all their war expeditions together, and the one was as great a war leader as the other. The first and last time these two disagreed was the time when High Back Bone got killed. He and Crazy Horse were on a war expedition together against the Shoshones. They had stationed their men at the Wind River. It was in the fall, and there was a drizzly rain turning into snow. Crazy Horse said, "I wonder if we can make it back to Cone Creek. I doubt if our horses can stand a fight in this slush. They sink in over their ankles."
Messengers took this word to High Back Bone, who said, "This is the second fight he has called off in this same place! This time there is going to be a fight." He came to Crazy Horse and said, "The last time you called off a fight here, when we got back to camp, they laughed at us. You and I have our good name to think about. If you don't care about it, you can go back. But I'm going to stay here and fight."
Crazy Horse said, "All right, we fight, if you feel that way about it. But I think we're going to get a good licking. You have a good gun, and I have a good gun, but look at our men! None of them have good guns, and most of them have only bows and arrows. It's a bad place for a fight and a bad day for it, and the enemy are twelve to our one."
They fought all the same, but the Shoshones had the best of it. Pretty soon the Oglalas were on the run, with only three men left who were doing any fighting: Good Weasel, Crazy Horse, and High Back Bone. It was a running fight, with more running than fighting; only these three were fighting at all. Crazy Horse charged one side of the Shoshones and High Back Bone the other. When they came back, High Back Bone's horse was stumbling. He said, "We're up against it now; my horse has a wound in the leg."
Crazy Horse said, "I know it. We were up against it from the start." Both made charges. When Crazy Horse got back, he found only Good Weasel left. High Back Bone had fallen from his horse, and the Shoshones surged over him. That was the last seen of High Back Bone. Good Weasel and Crazy Horse got away.
Q: About how old was High Back Bone? Was he about the same age as He Dog and Crazy Horse, or was he an older man?
A: Just about the same age as Crazy Horse and I.
A: The younger brother went on a war expedition south of the Platte River and never came back. Crazy Horse wasn't along. This was during the time when No Water and Crazy Horse got into that scrape, and Crazy Horse was not yet well from his wounds." When Red Cloud went to Washington (later in the same year [The year was 1870]), Crazy Horse went south and found his brother's body and buried it.
Q: What was this brother's name?
A: Crazy Horse's brother's name was Little Hawk. After the young man's death his father's brother took the same name. The old men claim the first Little Hawk would have been a greater man than his brother Crazy Horse if he had lived. But he was too rash.
All the time I was in fights with Crazy Horse in critical moments of the fight Crazy Horse would always jump off his horse to fire. He is the only Indian I ever knew who did that often. He wanted to be sure that he hit what he aimed at. That is the kind of a fighter he was. He didn't like to start a battle unless he had it all planned out in his head and knew he was going to win. He always used judgment and played safe. His brother [Little Hawk] and High Back Bone [or Hump] were reckless. That is why they got killed.
Q: When my friend and I got back to our camp after the other interview, we found there were several things in the story of the quarrel between Crazy Horse and No Water we did not understand the same way. We wonder if He Dog will tell that story again. In particular, we were not clear which No Water did the shooting, the No Water who is living now, the No Water who was the husband of the woman with whom Crazy Horse eloped, or the father of the woman's husband.
A: The old No Water did the shooting, the husband of the woman. The woman was the mother of this No Water who is living now. He was a little boy when it happened. The woman had three children; he was the oldest. She gave them to different people to take care of when she left with Crazy Horse. When her husband No Water got back, his wife and children were gone. He went around to the various tipis and found his children. Crazy Horse had been paying open attention to the woman for a long time, and it didn't take No Water very long to guess where she had gone. He gathered up a fairly strong war party and went after him.
Crazy Horse had taken the woman and a few followers and gone on a war expedition against the Crows. On the second night he came to a place on Powder River where several bands had joined together, and they stopped with friends.
Little Shield was with Crazy Horse at the time he was shot. No Water overtook him on the second night after he had left camp with the woman. Crazy Horse and the woman were sitting by the fire in a friend's tipi when No Water rushed in saying, "My friend, I have come!" Crazy Horse jumped up and reached for his knife. No Water shot him just below the left nostril. The bullet followed the line of the teeth and fractured his upper jaw. He fell forward into the fire. No Water left the tent at once and told his friends he had killed Crazy Horse.
The woman went out the back of the tent, crawling under the tent covering, when No Water fired. She went to relatives and begged for protection. She did not go back to Crazy Horse.
It was Bad Heart Bull's revolver that No Water borrowed for the shooting. Yellow Bear brought back the revolver and the word that No Water had killed Crazy Horse. Later someone brought word that Crazy Horse was not dead.
No Water had a fast mule which he had ridden when he came to kill Crazy Horse. He left without it in a hurry. When Crazy Horse's men had convinced themselves that they could not find No Water to punish, they killed his mule instead. No Water's friends made a sweat lodge hot and purified him of the murder. Then he disappeared.
No Water was a brother of Holy Bald Eagle, nicknamed the Black Twin." He really was a twin; the "White Twin," Holy Buffalo, was a little lighter in complexion. Holy Bald Eagle said to No Water, "Come and stay with me, and, if they want to fight us, we will fight." [Note: Here is an account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn by White Twin's son, Holy Rock.]
Crazy Horse's men did not take him back to his people but to the camp of his uncle Spotted Crow to be nursed. They were very angry and thought they ought to have No Water turned over to them to be punished or else wage war on his people. For a while it looked as if a lot of blood would flow. But by good luck there were three parties to the quarrel instead of two. Bull Head, Ashes, and Spotted Crow, the uncles of Crazy Horse and the head men of that band, worked for peace. Also, Bad Heart Bull and I thought we were involved in it since Bad Heart Bull's revolver had been used for the shooting. We did what we could. After a while the thing began to quiet down. No Water owned a very fine roan horse and a fine bay horse; he sent these and another good horse to atone for the injury he had done. Spotted Crow, Sitting Eagle, and Canoeing brought No Water's wife to Bad Heart Bull's tent and left her there on condition that she should not be punished for what she had done. This condition was demanded by Crazy Horse. Bad Heart Bull arranged for her to go back to her husband in peace. If it had not been settled this way, there might have been a bad fight.
The trouble flared up once more after it was supposed to have been quieted. There were several bands encamped near the mouth of the Big Horn River. They had been hunting buffalo across the Missouri (Yellowstone?). Some were through dressing their meat and others were not. Iron Horse and Crazy Horse had finished and were coming back with their ponies loaded with packs of meat. A man named Moccasin Top was still dressing his kill. Moccasin Top owned a fast buckskin horse and had it tethered near him while he worked. No Water came along that way and saw Crazy Horse coming. He untied the buckskin horse of Moccasin Top and jumped on it and started off across the prairie pretty fast.
Then Crazy Horse came along and saw Moccasin Top. He said, "Are you here? Then who was the man that just rode off on your buckskin horse?"
Moccasin Top said, "That was No Water."
Crazy Horse said, "I wish I had known it! I would certainly have given him a bullet in return for that one he gave me."
Then he stripped off his pack, jumped on his pony, and gave chase. He chased No Water to the Missouri (Yellowstone?) River. No Water made the horse plunge into the river and swim across. Crazy Horse did not follow him any further. No Water quit camp and went south among the Loafer Indians at the Red Cloud Agency and never went back. He stayed at the agency all through the war with the white people and had nothing more to do with the hostiles. We only saw him once after that until we came down to the agency. My father and No Water's father were related; that was how Bad Heart Bull and I came to be drawn into the quarrel.
Q: What was the name of No Water's wife?
A: This woman was named Black Buffalo Woman. She was a daughter of Red Cloud's brother. They claim that a few months after she went back to No Water this woman gave birth to a light-haired little girl. Many people believe this child was Crazy Horse's daughter, but it was never known for certain. This daughter is living now.
No Water's friends accused Chips [or Horn Chips], the medicine man who gave Crazy Horse his war medicine, of giving him a love-charm to make this woman run away with him. They were going to kill Chips. The Black Twin (Holy Bald Eagle) tried to get Chips to acknowledge that he had given Crazy Horse a love-charm, but Chips stoutly denied it. He said he knew nothing whatever about the affair. So after a while they let him go. After that Chips stayed away from the Badger band.
Q: When a "shirt-wearer" broke his oath, how did they go about it to take his office away from him?
A: There is an outfit called the White Horse Riders or the Short Hairs." They are the ones that decide who are to have the ceremonial shirts. When a shirt-wearer died or broke his oath, the shirt was returned to the White Horse Riders or the Short Hairs. These chose who was to have it next.
Q: Who was chosen to succeed Crazy Horse after he had to return his ceremonial shirt?
A: The shirt was never given to anybody else. Everything seemed to stop right there. Everything began to fall to pieces. After that it seemed as if anybody who wanted to could wear the shirt; it meant nothing. But in the days when Crazy Horse and I received our shirts, we had to accomplish many things to win them.
Q: How long was it from the time when Crazy Horse received his shirt until he lost it?
A: (He Dog) It was about five years that he was a chief, maybe longer.
A: (Little Shield) It was about the fourth year that the trouble started.
The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader edited by R. Eli Paul, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE 1998, p 188 - 192
Here is one of He Dog 's accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
He Dog surrendered with Crazy Horse at Ft. Robinson, NE, on May 6, 1877, along with White Twin, mentioned above. For more information on Crazy Horse's surrender, please see the Crazy Horse Surrender Register.