Friday Friends: A Letter from the Wild West – Crazy Horse

Friday– This week’s edition of Friday Friends features “When Historians Recall Lakota Sioux Greats, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse Are in the Fore” written by Gregory Lalire of

My first awestruck viewing of a “Custer’s Last Stand” painting at age 7 piqued my curiosity, so I cracked the World Book Encyclopedia to learn something about the brave “victim,” George Armstrong Custer, and the two fearsome Indians—Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse—most responsible for the “massacre.” As the years flew past like arrows, those two catchy names stuck in my head: Crazy Horse, the ultimate Sioux warrior; Sitting Bull, the ultimate Sioux leader. Even when I stopped seeing Custer as a massacre victim, I still viewed the pair as the foremost Lakotas. At some point I heard the name Red Cloud, but he had been on a reservation instead of at the Little Bighorn, so I dismissed him. Yes, the name was kind of cool, but it also called to mind a much-advertised commercial product. In my TV-addled brain I figured Red Cloud was a softie like White Cloud, the “ultra soft” toilet tissue introduced in 1958.

My tune changed somewhat in the 1960s when I learned Red Cloud had been tough enough 100 years earlier to defeat the U.S. government. Still, Red Cloud’s War did not impress me as much as Custer’s Last Stand. The 1866 Fetterman Massacre (later called Fetterman’s Fight) couldn’t hold a candle to what happened a decade later at the Little Bighorn. Besides, wasn’t Crazy Horse the clever warrior who made Captain William Fetterman pay the ultimate price for underestimating the fighting Sioux? Other Red Cloud tidbits filtered into my head, but they suggested an old, weakened villain of the Indian wars, bickering and compromising with Indian agents and his own tribesmen.

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