Steven Lewis Simpson

The Oglala He Dog talks about Crazy Horse in 1930

I just stumbled on this interview with He Dog, Oglala, S.D. July 7, 1930
Thomas White Cow Killer, Interpreter
. I will be glad to tell you about Crazy Horse or any others of our old
time chiefs about whom you may wish to know because I am an old man now
and shall not live many years longer and it is time for me to tell these
things. Whatever I tell you will be the exact truth, because I was in a
position to know what I talk about. There are a lot of old Indians
hanging about the reservation who like to talk to the white people and
would just as soon tell you anything, whether it is true or not. They are
men whom we would not have had as servants, those of us who were Chiefs
in the old days.
I and Crazy Horse were both born in the same year and at the same
season of the year. We grew up together in the same band, played
together, courted the girls together and fought together. I am now
ninety-two years old, so you can figure out in what year he was born by
your calendar. When we were 17 or 18 years old we separated. Crazy
Horse went to the Rosebud Band (that is to the Brules, of whom Spotted
Tail was Chief a little later) of Indians and stayed with them for about
a year. Then he came home. After he had been back for a while, I made
inquiries about why he had left the Rosebud band. I was told he had to
come back because he had killed a Winnebago woman. (According to ancient
Lakota custom, coup could be counted on an enemy woman if she was killed
in the sight of the fighting men of her tribe. The theory was that the
enemy would fight even harder to protect or avenge one of their women
than one of their men. But the Brules were already agency Indians and
the authorities took a different attitude about it. Apparently Crazy
Horse himself changed his mind about the ethics of this custom if the
speech of his reported by Captain Hans in “The Great Sioux Nation” is
Less than a year after Crazy Horse left camp, I joined in a trip
against the Crow Indians. WHen I got home, the crier was announcing that
Crazy Horse was back in camp. Only his name was not Crazy Horse at that
time. He has three names at different times of his life. His name until
he was about ten years old was Curly Hair. Later, from the time he was
ten until the time he was about eighteen years of age, he was called
His-Horse-On-Sight, but this name did not stick to him. When he was
about eighteen years old there was a fight with the Arapahos who were up
on a high hill covered with big rocks and near a river. Although he was
just a boy, he charged them several times alone and came back wounded but
with two Arapaho scalps. His father, whose name was Crazy Horse, made a
feast and gave his son his own name. After that, the father was no
longer called by the name he had given away, but was called by a
nickname, Worm.
Crazy Horse, the son, was one of three children. The oldest was a
Sister, the next was Crazy Horse, and the third was a Brother. All are
dead now.
When we were young men, the Oglala band divided into two parts, one
led by Red Cloud and one by Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, the elder. I and
Crazy Horse stayed with the part led by Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horse. Later
this half subdivided again into two parts. I stayed with the more Northern
half of which I and Big Road, and later Holy Bald Eagle and Red Cloud,
were appointed joint Chiefs (“shirt wearers”, so called from a particular
kind of ceremonial shirt worn by this class of chieftain as insignia of
Crazy Horse remained with the Southern quarter of the tribe. The
council of this division awarded the chieftainship to Crazy Horse,
American Horse, Young-Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horse, and Sword. It was many
years after our first battles before we were made Chiefs. A man had to
distinguish himself in many fights and in peace as well before he could
be chosen as a Chief.
(After consultation together, He Dog and the interpreter dated these
appointments as having been made about 1865 by the white man’s calendar)
The name of Crazy Horse’s band was the Hunkpatila (End of Circle) band
because when the tribe was encamped together it occupied one end of the
tribal crescent.
At about the time these appointments were made Crazy Horse moved
towards the White Mountains (Indian name of the Big Horn Mountains).
Crazy Horse and I went together on a war trip to the other side of the
mountains. When we came back, the people came out of the camp to meet us
and escorted us back and at a big ceremony presented us with two spears,
the gift of the whole tribe, which was met together. These spears were
each three or four hundreds years old and were given by the older
generation to those in the younger generation who had best lived the life
of a warrior.
Crazy Horse was still single when he was made a “shirt wearer”. A few
years after this he began to pay attention to the wife of a man named No
Water. No Water did not want to let the woman go.
In the Battle “When They Chased The Crows Back To Camp”, (1870) He Dog
and Crazy Horse were the lance bearers of the Kangi Yuhn (Crow Owner’s
Society). About ten days after that battle Crazy Horse started off on a
smaller war expedition and No Water’s wife went along with him.
No Water followed them and came to the tipi of Bad Heart Bull and
asked to borrow a certain good revolver (Bad Heart Bull was a brother of
He Dog and is now dead) which Bad Heart Bull owned. He said he wanted to
go hunting. Crazy Horse and the woman were sitting by the fire in a tipi
belonging to some of their friends. No Water entered the tipi, walked up
to Crazy Horse as near as I am to that stove (about four feet) and shot
him through the face. The bullet entered just below the left nostril.
That is how Crazy Horse got his scar. No Water took his wife back.
Because of all this, Crazy Horse could not be a “shirt wearer” any
longer. When we were made Chiefs, we were bound by very strict rules as
to what we should do and what not do, which were very hard for us to
follow. I have never spoken to nay but a very few persons of what they
made us promise them. I have always kept the oaths I made then, but
Crazy Horse did not.
Later on the older, more responsible men of the tribe conferred
another kind of Chieftainship on Crazy Horse. He was made War Chief of
the whole Oglala tribe. A similar office was conferred on Sitting Bull
by the Hunkpapa tribe. This was still early, a long, long time before
the Custer fight. At this time the government did not know who we were.
Crazy Horse always led his men himself, when they went into battle,
and he kept well in front of them. He headed many charges and was many
times wounded in battle, but never seriously. He never wore a war
bonnet. A medicine man named Chips had given him power if he would wear in
battle an eagle bone whistle and one feather and a certain round stone
with a hole in it. He wore the stone under his left arm, suspended by a
leather thong that went over his shoulder. The one central feather that
is in the middle of the war eagle’s tail, that was the feather he wore in
his hair.
(He Dog denied with a chuckle, various stories told about how Crazy
Horse on certain occasions threw away his rifle and charged in with a war
club or a riding quirt, a characteristic Indian mode of seeking death in
battle) Crazy Horse always stuck close to his rifle. He always tried to
kill as many as possible of the enemy without losing his own men.
He never spoke in council and attended very few. There was no special
reason for this, it was just his nature. He was a very quiet man except
when there was fighting.
Crazy Horse was married three times. The first time was to No Water’s
wife, but she only stayed with him a few days. Shortly after that he
married Red Feather’s sister. By her he had one child, a little girl who
died when about two years old. A long while after, when he had
surrendered at Ft. Robinson, he married a young half-breed girl. He did
not have any children by her.

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