Black Elk Speaks
The Killing of Crazy Horse
One night early in the Moon When the Calf Grows Hair [September]
we broke camp there at Red Cloud Agency without making any noise,
and started. My father told me we were going to Spotted Tail's camp,
but he did not tell me why until later. We traveled most of the
night and then we camped.
But when we were moving again next day, a band of Red Cloud's people
overtook us and said there would be bad trouble if we did not come
back right away. Some of us turned around then and went back, and
soldiers sent the others back a little later; but Crazy Horse went
on to his uncle's camp.
After what happened my father told me why Crazy Horse had done
this. He was afraid somebody might start trouble down there where
all the soldiers were, and the Wasichus had taken our guns away
from us, so that we could do nothing if there was bad trouble. The
Wasichus had made Spotted Tail head chief of all the Lakotas because
he would do what they wanted, and Crazy Horse thought we might be
safer there with his uncle. Afterwards, the Hang-Around-the-Fort
people said that he was getting ready to tie up his horse's tail
again and make war on the Wasichus. How could he do that when we
had no guns and could not get any? It was a story the Wasichus told,
and their tongues were forked when they told it. Our people believe
they did what they did because he was a great man and they could
not kill him in battle and he would not make himself over into a
Wasichu, as Spotted Tail and the others did. That summer, my father
told me, the Wasichus wanted him to go to Washington with Red Cloud
and Spotted Tail and others to see the Great Father there; but he
would not go. He told them that he did not need to go looking for
his Great Father. He said: "My Father is with me, and there
is no Great Father between me and the Great Spirit."
In the evening of the next day after we got back to Red Cloud's
Agency, some soldiers came there bringing Crazy Horse with them.
He was riding his horse alone a little way ahead. They did not stay
there long, but rode on over to the Soldiers' Town, and my father
and I went along with many others to see what they were going to
When we got over there we could not see Crazy Horse, because there
were soldiers and Lakota policemen all around where he was and people
In just a little while I could feel that something very bad was
happening in there, and everybody was excited all at once, and you
could hear voices buzzing all around. Then I heard a loud cry in
our own language, and it said: "Don't touch me! I am Crazy
Horse!" And suddenly something went through all the people
there like a big wind that strikes many trees all at once. Somebody
in there yelled something else, but everybody around me was asking
or telling everybody what had happened, and I heard that Crazy Horse
was killed, that he was sick, that he was hurt; and I was frightened,
because everything felt the way it did that day when we were going
up to kill on the Greasy Grass, and it seemed we might all begin
fighting right away.
Then everything got quiet, and everybody seemed to be waiting for
something. Then the people began to break up and move around, and
I heard that Crazy Horse had just taken sick and maybe he would
be all right soon.
But it was not long until we all knew what had happened in there,
because some of the people saw it happen, and I will tell you how
They told Crazy Horse they would not harm him if he would go to
the Soldiers' Town and have a talk with the Wasichu chief there.
But they lied. They did not take him to the chief for a talk. They
took him to the little prison with iron bars on the windows, for
they had planned to get rid of him. And when he saw what they were
doing, he turned around and took a knife out of his robe and started
out against all those soldiers. Then Little Big Man, who had been
his friend and was the one who told us boys that we were brave before
my first fight when we attacked the wagons on War Bonnet Creek,
took hold of Crazy Horse from behind and tried to get the knife
away. And while they were struggling, a soldier ran a bayonet into
Crazy Horse from one side at the back and he fell down and began
to die. Then they picked him up and carried him into the soldier
chief's office. The soldiers stood all around there and would not
let anybody in and made the people go away. My father and I went
back to our camp at Red Cloud Agency.
That night I heard mourning somewhere, and then there was more
and more mourning, until it was all over the camp.
Crazy Horse was dead. He was brave and good and wise. He never
wanted anything but to save his people, and he fought the Wasichus
only when they came to kill us in our own country. He was only thirty
years old. They could not kill him in battle. They had to lie to
him and kill him that way.
I cried all night, and so did my father.
When it was day, Crazy Horse's father and mother brought him over
to our camp in a wagon. Then they put him in a box, and I heard
that they had to cut him in two because the box was not long enough.
They fastened the box on a pony drag and went away alone toward
the east and north. I saw the two old people going away alone with
their son's body. Nobody followed them. They went all alone, and
I can see them going yet. The horse that pulled the pony drag was
a buckskin. Crazy Horse's father had a white-faced bay with white
hind legs. His mother had a brown mare with a bay colt.
The old people never would tell where they took the body of their
son. Nobody knows to-day where he lies, for the old people are dead
too. Many have talked about the place, and some have said they knew
where it was and would not tell, and many think it is somewhere
on Bear Creek in the Badlands. I know one thing, and this is it.
The old people came with the body right down Pepper Creek which
is just a little way south across the hill from where we are. There
were two hunters who were hunting along the creek there and they
saw two old people coming with a pony drag, and when they told my
father about this, they said a buckskin was pulling the drag that
had a box on it; that the old man rode a white-faced bay with white
hind legs and the old woman rode a brown mare with a bay colt. These
hunters saw the old people coming down Pepper Creek, and later on
they saw the old people again on White Horse Creek which is just
a little way down Pepper Creek from where they were before. And
the hunters said the box was not on the drag any more. So I think
that maybe they hid the body somewhere on Pepper Creek over there
because the hunters had seen them, and maybe they went back again
at night and took the box away into the Badlands. But Crazy Horse
might be lying over there just a little way from us right now on
Pepper Creek across that hill yonder. I do not know.
It does not matter where his body lies, for it is grass; but where
his spirit is, it will be good to be.
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