Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Strange Man of the Oglalas

In 1942, Mari Sandoz wrote a biography of the great Native American leader Ta-Shunka-Witko,known to white America as Chief Crazy Horse.

From her own childhood:

"The home of my childhood was on the upper Niobara River, the Running Water of the old-timers, at the edge of the region they called Indian County. It was close to the great Sioux reservations of South Dakota - the final places of refuge for many of the old buffalo-hunting Indians...such men are often great story-tellers, and these my father, Old Jules, drew to him as a curl of smoke rising above a clump of trees would once have drawn them...

"Around our kitchen table, or perhaps at the evening fires of the Sioux camped across the road from our house, I heard these old-timers tell ...stories of hunting the buffalo, the big-horn, and the grizzly, and of Indian fights and raidings... but most often they talked of the battles in what the whites called the Sioux wars, from that climatic summer day on the Little Big Horn all the way back to the beginning...

"As I listened to these stories it seemed that through them, like a painted strip of rawhide in a braided rope, ran the name of one who was a boy among the Oglalas the day the chief of his people was shot down. He must have been twelve then, quiet, serious, very light-skinned for an Indian, with hair so soft and pale that he was called Curly...but by the end of those wars, twenty-three years later, he was known as the greatest of the fighting Oglalas, and his name, Crazy Horse, was one to frighten the children of the whites crowding into his country, and even the boldest warriors of his Indian enemies, the Snakes and Crows.

"In 1930 I made a three-thousand-mile trip through the Sioux country, locating Indian sites and living among the people. We interviewed the few old buffalo-hunters still alive, including such friends and relatives of Crazy Horse as Red Feather, Little Killer, Short Bull, and particularly He Dog, his lifelong brother-friend. It was well that this was done then, for now He-Dog is dead.

Crazy Horse was born about 1840; he was killed treacherously through betrayal by his own people in 1877. This is the story of that betrayal, and the woman for whom the great warrior would one day risk everything he knew of his people and their earth.

The author August Derleth called this book: "a portrait of a man and a people so vividly drawn that no reader will ever completely forget of the great biographies."

Crazy Horse- Sacred Warrior Original artwork by Cherokee artist Michael Gentry

Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas, Mari Sandoz, Sold by Chewybooks on November 8, 2009

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