December 22, 2014 00:44 UTC

Crazy Horse Was Chief of the Lakota, a Warrior and a Holy Man

He tried to protect his people's way of living. <em>Transcript of radio broadcast:</em>

VOICE ONE:

I’m Phoebe Zimmermann.

VOICE TWO:

And I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA.  Today, we tell the story of a Native American, Crazy Horse.  He was a leader of the Lakota Indians.  Some people call his tribe the Oglala Sioux.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Crazy Horse's people belonged to one of seven great families who called themselves Lakota.  The word Lakota means friends or allies.

The Lakota people were hunters.  They moved with the seasons.  They moved through the great flat lands and the great mountains of the north-central United States.  The Lakota depended on wild animals for food and clothing, and for the materials to make their tools and homes.  They depended especially on the buffalo, the great hairy ox-like creature.  Huge groups of buffalo ran free across their lands.

VOICE TWO:

Great changes came to the Indian territories during the middle eighteen hundreds.  The population of the United States was growing.  Settlers left the cities of the East for the wide open spaces of the West.  The settlers followed the railroads extending across the continent.  More settlers moved west when gold was discovered in California in eighteen forty-nine.

The ways of the settlers were not the ways of the Indians.  The culture of the white people clashed with the culture of the red people -- often in violence.

The United States army was sent to move the Indians and protect the settlers.  Many Indian tribes refused to move.  Their lands, they said, contained the bones of their fathers and mothers.  It was holy ground. They fought the soldiers.

VOICE ONE:

Crazy Horse's tribe, the Lakota, had many powerful leaders and skilled warriors.  Crazy Horse, himself, was greatly feared.  The soldiers could not defeat him in battle.  Most white people did not understand why the Lakota fought so hard.  They knew little of the Indians' way of life.  They did not know Crazy Horse at all.

Much of what we have learned about Crazy Horse came from his own people.  Even today, they still talk about him.  To the Lakota, he was both a warrior and a holy man.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

No one knows for sure when Crazy Horse was born.  Perhaps around the year eighteen forty.  But we do know when he died.  In eighteen seventy-seven, when he was in his middle thirties.

There are no photographs of Crazy Horse.  But it is said that he was not very tall.  And his skin was lighter than most of the Lakota people.

As a boy, Crazy Horse loved to listen to the teachings of the Lakota religion.  His father was a holy man of the tribe -- a medicine man.  He taught the boy to honor all things, because all things had a life of their own.  Not only people and animals had spirits, he said, but trees and rivers, as well.  Above all was the Great Spirit.

VOICE ONE:

Crazy Horse's father also told him that a man should be judged only by the goodness of his actions.  So the boy tried hard to tell the truth at all times and not to speak badly of others.

Crazy Horse learned to be a hunter.  He could lie quietly for hours watching wild animals.  When he killed a bird or a deer, he always sang a prayer of thanks and sorrow.  He always gave the meat to the poor and to the families that had no hunters.  That was what Lakota chiefs did.

VOICE TWO:

In time, Crazy Horse learned that the Indians were not alone in their world.  He watched one day as tribesmen brought back the body of one of the chiefs, Conquering Bear.  The chief had been shot many times by soldiers after a dispute over a white man's cow.  Two times in the next few years, young Crazy Horse saw the burned remains of Indian villages.  All the village people, including women and children, had been shot by soldiers.

All these events helped shape the personality of the young Indian.  Crazy Horse became very quiet.  He would go away from his village and spend days alone.

His people began to call him "the strange one."  The name Crazy Horse -- in the language of the Lakota -- meant wild horse.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

When it was time for him to plan his future, his father took him high into the mountains.  Together, they sang a prayer to the Great Spirit, a prayer like this:

"Grandfather, Great Spirit, you have existed always, and before you there was no one.  Stand close to the Earth that you may hear the voice I send.  You, where the sun goes down, look at me! You, where the snow lives...you, where the day begins...you, where the summer lives ... you, in the depths of the heavens, look at me!  And you, Mother Earth.  Give me eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you.  Only with your power can I face the winds."

VOICE TWO:

Crazy Horse stayed on the mountain by himself for three days and nights.  He did not eat or drink.  He prayed that the Great Spirit would send him a dream to show him how to live.

Crazy Horse dreamed.  He entered the world of truth and of the spirits of all things.  The Lakota people called this "the real world".  They believed our world was only an image of the real world.

VOICE ONE:

In his dream, Crazy Horse saw a man riding a horse through clouds of darkness and battle.  Bullets flew around him, but did not hit him.

The man wore a stone under one ear, and a bird feather in his hair.  His body was painted with sharp white lines, like lightning.  A light followed him, but it was sometimes covered by darkness.

Crazy Horse understood the dream as a sign.  He knew his people were entering a time of darkness.  He dressed himself like the man in the dream, so that no bullets would hurt him.  He would try to save his land for his people.  He would try to protect their way of living.

VOICE TWO:

Crazy Horse prayed every day -- as the sun rose, at noon, and as night came.  He prayed whenever he had something difficult to do.  The prayer songs would carry him back to the peace of "the real world".  He would know the right thing to do.

In the village, Crazy Horse did not keep things for himself.  He even gave away his food.  If others needed the food more, he would not eat at all.  Crazy Horse spent much of his time with the children.  He talked and joked with them.  Yet his eyes looked through the children.  He seemed to be thinking of something else.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Crazy Horse fought in more than twenty battles against the American army.  He was never hit by an enemy's bullet.  In battle, his mind was clear.  "Be brave!" the young men would shout as they followed him into battle.  "The Earth is all that lasts."

But the Earth the Indians knew did not last.  The government would take most of it.  The army destroyed Indian villages and captured those who would not surrender.

VOICE TWO:

Almost all the buffalo were gone, killed by white hunters.  The people were hungry.  Many Lakota and other Indians came to Crazy Horse for protection.

The government sent a message to Crazy Horse.  It said if he surrendered, his people could live and hunt on a part of the land that he chose.  Crazy Horse and his people could fight no more.  They accepted the government offer.  They surrendered.

The government, however, did not keep its promise to let them choose where they would live.  Several months later, on September fifth, eighteen seventy-seven, Crazy Horse went to the army commander to make an angry protest.  Guards arrested him.  He struggled to escape.  A soldier stabbed him with a knife.  The great Lakota Indian chief died the next day.

VOICE ONE:

In nineteen thirty-nine, the tribe asked an artist to make a statue of Crazy Horse.  The Indians wanted a huge statue cut into the side of a mountain.  It would show Crazy Horse riding a running horse, pointing his arm to where the Earth meets the sky -- to the lands of the Lakota people.  The tribe told the artist:  "We would like the white man to know the red man had great heroes, too."

If you visit the mountain to see the statue, you may hear in the wind the song of an old man.  He sings:

"Crazy Horse, your people depend on you.  Be brave. Defend your people!"

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

This Special English program was written by Barbara Dash. It was produced by Mario Ritter. Our studio engineer was Sulaiman Tarawaley.  I’m Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I’m Phoebe Zimmermann.  Join us again next week for another People in America program on the Voice of America.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

  • Obama College Sexual Assault

    Video How the US Deals with its Sexual Assault Problem

    A new study shows young women ages 18 to 24 are the most common targets of rape and sexual attack. Many Americans are dealing with the problem. They are hearing and reading about the issue, from awareness and activism at colleges to programs to fight it at the highest levels of government. More

  • Video Helping California’s Homeless

    Federal officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people nationwide on any given day. Each one lacks a permanent place to live. Reasons for homelessness can include the high cost of housing, poverty and unemployment. Other reasons are mental health problems and bad luck. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and U.S. President Obama participate in a welcome ceremony for President Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Audio Is China Starting to Live its Dream?

    Trust in the American dream may be disappearing. But halfway around the world, a new dream has been gaining strength -- the Chinese dream. To be exact: President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream. But, what is the Chinese dream? And how has President Xi started to make his dream for the country a reality? More

Featured Stories

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs