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Crazy Horse

History >> Native Americans >> Biographies

Crazy Horse by Unknown

Where did Crazy Horse grow up?

Crazy Horse was born around the year 1840 in South Dakota. He grew up in a small village as part of the Lakota people. His birth name was Cha-O-Ha which means "Among the Trees." Growing up, the people in his tribe called him Curly because he had curly hair.

As a young boy, Curly wasn't very big, but he was very brave. Whether it was hunting buffalo or taming a wild horse, he showed no fear. The other boys began to follow Curly and he soon became known as a leader.

How did he get his name?

Curly's father was called Tashunka Witco, which means Crazy Horse. Legend has it that Curly had a vision of himself defending his people while riding into battle on a horse. When Curly grew older and wiser, his father decided to honor his vision by giving Curly the name Crazy Horse. His father changed his own name to Waglula, which means "Worm."

What was Crazy Horse like?

Despite his name, Crazy Horse was a quiet and reserved person. While he was a brave and fearless leader in battle, he didn't talk much when in the village. Like most Native American chiefs, he was very generous. He gave away most of his own possessions to other people in his tribe. He was most passionate about protecting the traditional ways of his people.

The Grattan Massacre

When Crazy Horse was still a boy, a number of U.S. soldiers entered his camp and claimed that one of the village men had stolen a cow from a local farmer. An argument ensued and one of the soldiers shot and killed Chief Conquering Bear. The men of the tribe fought back and killed the soldiers. This started a war between the Sioux Nation and the United States.

Fighting for His Land

After the Grattan Massacre, Crazy Horse knew what he had to do. He would fight to protect the land and traditions of his people. Over the next several years, Crazy Horse earned a reputation as a brave and fearsome warrior.

Crazy Horse fought in many raids on white settlements during Red Cloud's War. The war ended with the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. The treaty said that the Lakota people owned the Black Hills. Soon, however, gold was discovered in the Black Hills and settlers were moving into the Lakota lands once again.

The people needed a new leader and, at the young age of 24, Crazy Horse became war chief over his people.

Battle of Little Big Horn

In 1876, Crazy Horse led his men into battle against Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. A few days before the battle, Crazy Horse and his men held off the advancement of General George Crook at the Battle of Rosebud. This left Colonel Custer's men badly outnumbered.

At the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his warriors helped to surround Custer's men. When Custer dug in to make his famous "Last Stand", legend has it that it was Crazy Horse who led the final charge overwhelming Custer's soldiers.


Despite his great victory at Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse was forced to surrender around a year later at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. He tried to escape and was killed when a soldier stabbed him with a bayonet.

Interesting Facts about Crazy Horse For more Native American history:

Culture and Overview
Agriculture and Food
Native American Art
American Indian homes and Dwellings
Homes: The Teepee, Longhouse, and Pueblo
Native American Clothing
Roles of Women and Men
Social Structure
Life as a Child
Mythology and Legends
Glossary and Terms

History and Events
Timeline of Native American History
King Philips War
French and Indian War
Battle of Little Bighorn
Trail of Tears
Wounded Knee Massacre
Indian Reservations
Civil Rights

Tribes and Regions
Apache Tribe
Cherokee Tribe
Cheyenne Tribe
Iroquois Indians
Navajo Nation
Nez Perce
Osage Nation
Sioux Nation

Famous Native Americans
Crazy Horse
Chief Joseph
Sitting Bull
Maria Tallchief
Jim Thorpe
Works Cited

History >> Native Americans >> Biographies

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