January 25, 2015 16:15 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

  • Obama

    Audio Has Obama Set the Message for the 2016 Campaign?

    “I have no more campaigns to run … I know because I won both of them.” Mr. Obama cannot run for president again – U.S. presidents may serve only two terms. But some observers say his most recent State of the Union message on the middle class sounded like a campaign speech. More

  • Should Schools in US Recognize Muslim Holidays

    Video Should Schools in US Recognize Muslim Holidays?

    Some religious minorities in America are demanding that schools close on their religious holidays. They ask, if Christian and Jewish holy days are recognized, shouldn’t those of other faiths also be observed? The issue is being debated in Maryland, near Washington, DC. More

  • Kenya prisoners

    Video In Kenya, Former Prisoners Seek Work, Help Community

    Former prisoners are working to prove there is life after crime. They want to show that they can lead productive lives.In one Nairobi neighborhood, they serve neighbors by collecting trash and doing other work. As they do so, they are giving back to a community that receives few public services. More

  • Supporters of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, carrying placards reading "I am Charlie", stage a silent protest outside the Foreign Correspondent Club in Hong Kong, Jan. 8, 2015.

    Audio China Reacts Differently to Charlie Hebdo Free Speech Debate

    Parisians lined up to buy the French magazine Charlie Hebdo after the attacks on its offices earlier this month. Many buyers wanted to show support for free speech. Muslims find the magazine’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed offensive. But, Chinese officials have their own interpretation. More

  • Former US Vice President Al Gore attends a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 21, 2015 in Davos. The world's political and business elite gathered for their annual meeting in the glitzy Swiss ski resort with the shadow of

    Audio Let's Do Business!

    There are many special terms in the world of business. The following story is about a sweetheart deal which I made last week. I made the deal with a friend, and we both made a profit. More

Featured Stories

  • Obama

    Audio Has Obama Set the Message for the 2016 Campaign?

    “I have no more campaigns to run … I know because I won both of them.” Mr. Obama cannot run for president again – U.S. presidents may serve only two terms. But some observers say his most recent State of the Union message on the middle class sounded like a campaign speech. More

  • American Sniper

    Video With Oscar Nomination, 'American Sniper' Stirs Debate

    The movie is based on a book by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. He is considered the deadliest marksman in the history of the United States military. The film explores how war can affect a soldier's mental and emotional health and stirs a debate on social media over its message. More

  • Designers work at computer stations at TechShop in the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco, California, April 24, 2014

    Video TechShop Puts High-Tech Dreams Within Reach

    Members of TechShop use high-tech equipment to develop and produce ideas they have for inventions. Members are able to use costly machines including 3D modeling tools and laser cutters. Membership costs for TechShop start at just over $100 per month. | Science in the News More

  • .

    Video Rare, Important Art Is Now Only a Click Away

    The public has never seen the majority of works in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museums of Asian Art. Now they can be downloaded from the Internet -- in many cases for free. The Freer and Sackler Galleries worked for over 15 years to make digital copies of more than 40,000 objects. More

  • Video Light Pollution. How Much Light is Too Much?

    Light pollution can affect our ability to see the night stars. It can also hurt our health and the planet. But light is needed to make our cities safe. How can we find a balance? In cities, artificial light comes from street lamps, buildings, signs and cars and blocks out stars in the sky. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs