Crazy Horse, I’ll be your Black Buffalo Woman.Posted: April 3, 2011
This week, we made a pledge not to write about any white men. Sort of like For Shame’s own humble attempt at affirmative action. And dammit, what would a week of smallliberalartscollege-worthy diversity be without the inclusion of one of the most wrongly persecuted, underrepresented peoples in the history of the world…the Native Americans! (OR Native Peoples, or American Indians – whichever term you prefer, we’re trying to be PC here, people.)
Having taken a pair of early American lit classes with a professor who wasn’t satisfied until he found the most obscure texts possible, I’ve read a couple of captive narratives from the late-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries (that’s Salem Witch Trials to the Seven Years’ War for the chronolgocally uninclined). One of which was written by a white woman who was captured during a raid. And by written by I mean dictated to a group of churchy, sensationalist, terrified, New England men who then wrote what they thought would scare the living shit out of people most. So there’s been a distinct air of scandal surrounding the relationship between Native Americans and fake Americans for a long-ass time.
What I’m getting at here is that while a lot of people think of the first Thanksgiving and/or the 1995 cinematic gem that is Pocahontas and/or Sacajawea, that lady on
the annoying dollar coins you get from the New York MetroCard machines, and that shit didn’t get exciting until we came with our smallpox blankets and firearms and fucked shit up, big time. But that’s just not true.
So today, we’re going to take a look at Crazy Horse. A bad-ass Lakota warrior with a heart of gold whose scandalous story has absolutely nothing to do with white people.
But before we get into the juice, how about a little context?
Crazy Horse was born sometime in the 1840s to Ogala Lakota parents Crazy Horse Sr. and Rattling Blanket Woman in present-day South Dakota. (Sidenote: wonder what was rattling under that blanket, KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN?!) Crazy Horse Sr. was later awarded two new wives for saving another Lakota village from a Crow (the tribe, not the bird) attack. Polygamy was not scandalous in any way in many Native American tribes, so get the fuck over that right now.
Crazy Horse Jr. grew up with his little bro High Horse in a Lakota camp that was attacked by a US Lieutenant and his crew in 1854. When the camp leader, Conquering Bear, was ironically killed, Crazy Horse started having visions that made people think he was sort of weird but also really awesome, thus elevating his status. This is when he became a total fucking bad ass warrior and took on the title of Shirt Bearer, practicing vigilante justice all over the place. The first person he killed was a Shoshone d-bag who had killed a poor Lakota woman, minding her own business and washing some buffalo meat in a river. In this way, Crazy Horse was the Dexter of his time.
Aside from the righteous kills, he was also involved in a lot of battles with US Cavalry, including the Fetterman Massacre and the Wagon Box Fight. I had no idea what either of those things were until I started researching this, but basically we Americans were being annoying (typical) and the tribes in the area got together and said “HEY. Give us a break here guys!” and we responded by opening fire. Choices.
And now for the main event:
Crazy Horse was getting all geared up about the annual Lakota buffalo hunt in 1867. I like to think of a buffalo hunt as analogous to a high school prom, because a) we at For Shame like to use the parlance of our times whenever possible and b) it was very much about displaying your masculinity for a fine lady while catering to her feminine needs. In Lakota culture, those needs included buffalo meat and pelts. In modern American prom culture, those needs include CONVERSATION and NOT LEAVING EARLY (I’m not not bitter about it).
So Crazy Horse was faced with a conundrum that plagues young men everywhere: what fine, fine honey do I give the pleasure of my company at this high-profile event? And then he saw Black Buffalo Woman, they locked eyes across the longhouse, and his mind was made up. Slight problem: she was already married to No Water, who was away from camp. Slight solution: in Lakota culture, a woman could decide that she wanted to divorce her husband and he just had to deal with it (a rare historical win for the ladies). All Strong Black Buffalo Woman
had to do was leave the camp with another man or move back in with her moms and pops, and like a boss, my girl got hers and chose the former, riding off to Slim Buttes, South Dakota, with Crazy Horse so they could get their hunt on.
But remember No Water? He returned to camp and WAS NOT having any of that shit, so he tracked down the two lovebirds, thus violating BBW’s rights as a divorce-d lady.
He found Crazy Horse and BBW shacked up in a tepee of love, and went absolutely apeshit. He called Crazy Horse’s name from outside (in what I imagine to be the exact same tone and inflection with which Bobby DeNiro says “Counselorrrr” in Cape Fear), and when Cray Cray answered, No Water just stuck a pistol right up in there. Be cool, dude, be cool!
What No Water didn’t know was that he wasn’t interrupting some canoodling. Crazy Horse, BBW, and Crazy Horse’s main man Touch the Clouds were all just hanging out, shooting the shit. Touch the Clouds was seated closest to the tepee opening, so when he saw that No Water was ready to pull that trigger, his papa bear instincts took over and he knocked the pistol upwards.
Crazy Horse, who had been in the direct line of fire, was grazed on the jaw by the bullet. And No Water ran away like a bitch, followed in hot pursuit by Touch the Clouds and the rest of Crazy Horse’s crew. And as if he wasn’t hateable enough, No Water decided the best way to get the fuck outta there was to ride a poor horsey for three days straight until it died, then continue on foot.
Meanwhile, Crazy Horse stayed back at camp, where he and BBW probably boned all day and night. Because listen up, fellas. Taking a bullet in the name of your sweet lady is one of the sexiest things you can do. You heard it here first. Actually, you heard it here second because this was coincidentally a huge plotpoint in the aforementioned, tirelessly researched masterpiece Pocahontas.
Anyway, No Water made it back to his village but the jig was up,. The tribe elders said “Hey, No Water, that was a really shitty thing to do. You nullified your ex-wife’s rights and you tried to kill a member of your own tribe. But we’re going to set a great fucking example here and not kill you.” And No Water was like, “Yeah, I get it, what do I have to do?” And the elders said, “Okay wiseguy, you have to give Crazy Horse…three horses!” Which was a BFD.
But Crazy Horse wasn’t off the hook either, because despite the super-cool Lakota divorce policy, he had still been shacking up with another man’s wife without his consent. So the elders took away his title of Shirt Bearer, which is a much cooler way of saying he was demoted from bad-ass leader of warriors to bad-ass warrior.
And that’s the story. Scandalous, sure. Educational, kind of. Sexy, you better believe it.
Crazy Horse went on to do a lot of other truly boss shit, including marrying two more wives (polygamist
style, told you to get over it) and fighting in/surviving the Battle of Little Big Horn. Also, he’s got a really cool unfinished cliff face monument and two highways named after him in South Dakota.
All in all, Crazy Horse was a true bad ass just trying to get his prom on, and you can’t fault him for that.