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Crazy Horse Speaks from His Deathbed

Crazy Horse, or Tashunka-uitco, led the Lakota resistance to the U.S. Army and the forced movement of his people onto reservations in the 1860s and 1870s.  He helped lead a victorious coalition of Native Americans against Custer's soldiers at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 and held out against U.S. troops until 1877. After surrendering, he moved to the Red Cloud Agency, a reservation in Nebraska.  There he was arrested for attempting to leave in order to visit his sick wife; while he was still in custody, Crazy Horse was murdered by military guards.

I was not hostile to the white man. Sometimes my young men would attack the Indians who were their enemies and took their ponies. They did it in return. We had buffalo for food, and their hides for clothing and our tepees. We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on the reservations, where we were driven against our will. At times we did not get enough to eat, and we were not allowed to leave the reservation to hunt. We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government then. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers were sent out in the winter, who destroyed our villages. [He referred to the winter before when his village was destroyed by Colonel Reynolds, Third Cavalry.] Then "Long Hair" [Custer] came in the same way. They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us had we not defended ourselves and fought to the last. Our first impulse was to escape with our squaws and papooses, but we were so hemmed in that we had to fight. After that I went up on Tongue River with a few of my people and lived in peace. But the government would not let me alone. Finally, I came back to Red Cloud agency. Yet I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting. I went to Spotted Tail agency and asked that chief and his agent to let me live there in peace. I came here with the agent [Lee] to talk with the big white chief, but was not given a chance. They tried to confine me, I tried to escape, and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.

Source | Homer W. Wheeler, Buffalo Days (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1905), 199-200; from Great Speeches by Native Americans, ed. Bob Blaisdell (New York: Dover, 2000) 147.
Creator | Crazy Horse
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Crazy Horse, “Crazy Horse Speaks from His Deathbed,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 21, 2022,

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