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Crazy Horse had but one priority and that was to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people by any means necessary. Crazy Horse carved out his reputation as a legendary warrior at a very young age, stealing horses from the Crow Indians before he was even a teenager, and leading his first war party at the age of twenty. He earned his reputation both through his skill and daring on the battlefield, and his loyalty and conviction off it. Though he was indeed a fierce warrior, there was principle behind any fighting he did, namely the preservation of the traditional Lakota way of living. When the U.S. Government ordered all Lakota onto reservations in 1876, Crazy Horse became leader of the resistance.
- He gathered a force of 1,200 Oglala, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors and took on the U.S. forces
- He turned back General George Crook at Rosebud Creek
- Joined up with Sitting Bull at the successful battle of Little Bighorn.
Following the victory, Sitting Bull and the other chiefs retreated to Canada, but Crazy Horse stayed behind and continued the fight against the relentless U.S. forces. This constant harassment finally forced Crazy Horse to surrender on May 6, 1877.
Crazy Horse and Freedom
Even in defeat, Crazy Horse continued to fight for his own freedom. He was arrested in September of 1877 for leaving the reservation without authorization. As he struggled against his captors, he was run through with a bayonet and killed.
In these two great men, one will find two prototypes of what a great leader should be. One was a pacifist and one was a warrior, but both shared the common principle of freedom for his people. In Chief Joseph, we find a man of peace, an eloquent speaker, a man who could use words and reason to accomplish his goals. However, in the dawn of a violent age these peaceful traits were often taken advantage of. Such was the case time and again as the white man broke promise after promise. Still, Chief Joseph would not compromise his beliefs and died still hoping that one day all men could live equally. In Crazy Horse, we find a man who never believed in such promises. As a result he spent most of his life fighting against the inevitable change that was thrust uninvited upon himself and his people. Crazy Horse had no love or respect for the white man, a trait that made him a feared adversary and one that the U.S. government was surely glad to be rid of when they murdered him.
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