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This image of Crazy Horse was allegedly taken just before his death in 1877, but it’s authenticity has been disputed since for most of his life he refused to be photographed.

Native History: Crazy Horse Killed by U.S. Soldier While in Custody

ICTMN Staff
9/5/13

This Date in Native History: On September 5, 1877, Crazy Horse, an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who resisted removal efforts, was killed at Fort Robinson by a soldier's bayonet.

He led an incredible life, starting in 1840 when he was born. He refused to be photographed and never signed any documents. Crazy Horse fought throughout his life to regain the land and way of life his Lakota people had known when he was a child, when they had the full Great Plains to themselves.

But, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills made that an impossible task. Lakota were forced onto reservations, but Crazy Horse and his ally Sitting Bull refused. In 1876, the two of them led 1,200 Oglala and Cheyenne warriors against General George Crook, making his men turn back as they advanced on Sitting Bull’s encampment on the Little Bighorn River. A week later, General George Armstrong Custer was defeated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, likely the greatest victory for Natives Americans over U.S. troops. Sitting Bull led his men into Canada while Crazy Horse continued to fight. He surrendered in May 1877 and was taken to Fort Robinson. He died at the end of a soldier’s bayonet there in September.

Fort Robinson as it appeared when it became a permanent military post late in 1878. (Nebraska State Historical Society)

George Kills in Sight was in his 70s when he was interviewed by Joseph Cash of the University of South Dakota in 1967 about Crazy Horse’s death and secret burial. Kills in Sight’s father’s mother was Crazy Horse’s cousin and Kills in Sight was taught to revere Crazy Horse as a hero.

He tells of Crazy Horse being brought to a cell at “Fort Robertson… So there’s two guards on each side of the gate. And this Pine Ridge, members of the Pine Ridge, that escorted him, they told him that was a jail—in Indian. So he [Crazy Horse] turned around, and this guard—he was a white soldier—just run his bayonet through, through the guts. He didn’t shoot him or anything, just… Killed him there. They just let him lay there, and of course he was dead.”

Read the transcript of the interview at HistoryMatters.gmu.edu.

RELATED: Fight the Power: 100 Heroes of Native Resistance, Part 1

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
I remember the story as related by He Dog many decades ago. Crazy Horse wasn't just killed. He was murdered! I will never forget the story told by He Dog. Maybe many didn't get to hear what he had to say on this all. Reminds me of one of those parcels of land being sold by that evil washichu claiming to be the burial place of Crazy Horse. As far as I ever heard no one but Crazy Horse's father, Worm & his second wife knew where he was taken for burial since they were the ones who prepared his body & took it by travois for burial. He Dog said no one but these 2 people knew where he was laid to rest. If anyone knows otherwise, I sure would like to hear your story. For now, I am going to take He Dog at his word from many decades ago before he died. If anyone knew Crazy Horse better than he did I have yet to hear about it. That picture was interesting, but as we know, Crazy Horse didn't let his picture be taken. He was considered a handsome man among his people. As I remember the story, this picture was actually one of Crazy Horse's warriors. I know for a fact this picture isn't Crazy Horse. He had a scar on one side of his face from a bullet wound inflicted by the jealous husband of a woman with whom Crazy Horse was very fond of at an earlier age. This man meant to kill Crazy Horse. He was lucky to be alive from this jealous attacker. It took some time for him to recover from this wound. I will always consider Crazy Horse one of the best warriors & leaders among our Native American Indian peoples throughout time. He was a brilliant military man, faithful to his people & the Great Spirit. He was a complete man as we call men such as he.
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