Who Was Crazy Horse?
Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux warrior and chief who fought the white man’s expansion into the Great Plains, most famously at the Little Bighorn, where he helped wipe out George A. Custer and 225 of his soldiers.
The son of a chief, Crazy Horse was born in South Dakota, about 40 miles from the colossal Black Hills memorial sculpture in his honor.
His battles with the U.S. government began in 1875 when his people were ordered onto a reservation and he refused.
Accounts of Crazy Horse’s death two years later at Fort Robinson, Neb., vary, but the most common is that he went to the fort to seek help for his dying wife and was stabbed in the back by a white soldier. He was between 33 and 35 years old.
Crazy Horse was never photographed, but five survivors of the Bighorn battle met with the memorial’s sculptor, Korczak, before he began. They described the warrior as a slight man with a light complexion. The carving is not designed to be a portrait but a representation of all Indians.
“If you’re going to have one face represent a whole race of people for eons and eons, you need a proud face and a handsome face,” Korczak said, according to his widow, Ruth.
Legend has it that Crazy Horse told his people he would return to them in stone.