REBEL YELL: ‘Quiet Thunder’, The Wisdom of Crazy Horse – By Joseph M. Marshall III

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“…At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came… they say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight.” – Crazy Horse”

‘Quiet Thunder’, The Wisdom of Crazy Horse – By Joseph M. Marshall III

“A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.  I was hostile to the white man… we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations.  At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt.  All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.  Soldiers came and destroyed our villages.  Then Long Hair (Custer) came… they say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us.  Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight.” – Crazy Horse

The American government’s policy and treatment towards the native peoples of our land is without a doubt one of the most shameful and regrettable aspects of our nation’s heritage.  In our desire to move West, the American government forcibly removed the indigenous populations from their cultural homelands, shepherding them into designated reservations and opening all the rich farmlands up to Western settlement.  Without any hesitation, we uprooted a people who had lived in the same land for several generations by either trading them vast tracts of land in exchange for useless trinkets or using our vastly superior military technology to slaughter all those who dared to stand up against our conquest.

Well despite being beaten down, relocated countless times, out-manned, out-gunned and out-supplied, there was one Native American warrior who was badass enough to break out the warpaint, unite the tribes and bust some honkey heads.

Crazy Horse was born into a Latoka Sioux tribe, and established himself as a badass brave at an early age.  He went on a raiding party and stole horses from a rival Crow Indian tribe at age 13, let his first war party at 18, and eventually grew to become the war leader of his entire tribe.  He was so awesome and desireable that his friend’s wife divorced him and married Crazy Horse.  The dude got super pissed and shot Crazy Horse in the face, but this only served to give him a wicked-looking facial scar (which incidentally is a true must for many badasses;  the story behind it only makes it that much more awesome).  His people respected his fighting abilities and honored him as a hero for the indomitable spirit and battle prowess he had displayed in skirmishes against the other plains tribes.

Well around this time the white man was starting to fuck with the Native Americans big-time.  The Sioux had up until now allowed white pioneers to freely travel through the Oregon Trail (which ran through Sioux lands), and were working on living in relative peace with the Americans.  Then one day some jackass Army Lieutenant showed up at Crazy Horse’s home, saying that the Sioux had killed a cow that belonged to a white pioneer and that someone was going to have to go to jail.  Crazy Horse’s chief, Conquering Bear, tried to negotiate with the Lieutenant, and for his troubles Conquering Bear received a fatal gunshot wound in the back.  Having witnessed the treachery and intolerance of the Federal soldiers first-hand, Crazy Horse decided to stand up for his people and defend his homeland against these dangerous invaders.

Crazy Horse participated in the assault on Fort Kearny in 1866, dubbed the “Federman Massacre”, when he attacked the base camp of Colonel William Federman, a particularly anti-Indian army office who made threats that he would ride his cavalry “through the entire Sioux Nation”.  The pre-emptive strike on this Fort resulted in the near-complete annihilation of Federman’s troops and at the time was the biggest defeat the US Army had ever received at the hands of the Indians.

But that superlative wouldn’t last long.

Nine years later, the Army received word that the Northern Cheyenne and Crazy Horse’s Lakota Sioux were not staying on their designated reservations and were instead wandering the countryside like Johnny Appleseed.  The Army decided they needed to deal with this insubordination, so they send out three jerkweed Army groups to go around burning Indian villages to the ground for no reason and then relocating any survivors back to the tiny scrap of land they had designated for the Sioux.  Well this shit didn’t fly with Crazy Horse.  He decided it was time to take out a six-pack of Whup-Ass and teach these goons a lesson.

Crazy Horse’s warriors met up with a force led by General George Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876.  Crook fought the Sioux to a draw, but the battle successfully delayed Crook’s troops from linking up with a second force that was already pushing it’s way into Sioux lands;  the United States 7th Cavalry, led by General George Armstrong Custer.

On 25 June 1876 General Custer’s men approached what appeared to be a large encampment of Sioux warriors.  In the face of the enemy, Custer divided his 7th Cavalry into three separate detachments;  one group was to provoke the Sioux into a fight and draw them out, the second group was to cut off their escape route and the third group, personally led by Custer himself, was to sweep in from the flank and completely crush the Sioux forces.

The first group attacked the Sioux encampment in an effort to draw them out, but they quickly realized that they were in over their heads when Crazy Horse and about two thousand screaming Sioux warriors starting charging them on horseback with bows, knives and Winchester repeating pound-you-in-the-ass rifles.  The unit’s commander, Major Marcus Reno, quickly realized he was about to be in the getting-fucked-up-by-Indians business and decided to run like a bitch and take up a fortified defensive position on a nearby ridge.  The majority of the Sioux warriors did not pursue him.

Right about this time, Custer’s group decided to launch their flanking assault on the Sioux positions.  When they rode around the ridge expecting to see an Indian force doing battle with Major Reno’s men, they were a little bit surprised to find that the two thousand warriors who had just gotten done beating the shit out of Reno were now heading towards their position.  Custer and his men tried to ford the Little Bighorn river and make their way into the Sioux camp, but their attempts were unsuccessful and Custer quickly found himself bearing the brunt of a fierce counter-attack.  While his men attempted to fortify their position, Crazy Horse and his warriors circled around and completely enveloped what was left of the 7th Cavalry.  Surrounded and assaulted on all sides, Custer made his last stand.  His unit was slaughtered to the man.

The Black Hills Wars would continue, and Crazy Horse would lead his braves into battle on several occasions after the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Over time attrition, cold, disease and famine overtook Crazy Horse’s warriors, forcing him to eventually negotiate a peace treaty and return his people to their reservation.  He would be the last of his tribe to surrender.  He held out as long as he could and fought for his people.  At the height of his insurrection no Native American force was more successful in battling the American Army, and the two most devastating defeats the US forces would suffer in the Indian Wars came by his hand.  Nothing the Native forces did in battle could compare to the defeat of Custer’s army;  242 men and 16 officers were killed that day.  In a span of mere hours, an entire detachment of professional cavalrymen was utterly annihilated.


Crazy Horse (1841-1877)
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Crazy Horse was born in the fall of 1841. His father was Crazy Horse, a respected medicine man of the Hunkpatila band of the Ogala Sioux. His mother was Spotted Tail. Crazy Horse was called “Curly” or “Light-Haired Boy” and his complexion was lighter than that of other Native Americans. When he was about fourteen (14) years of age, General William S. Harney led an assault on his bands encampment, while he was out hunting. When he returned he found eighty-six (86) dead, and many were the women and children. General Harney took seventy (70) females captive. After the death of his friends and relatives, Curly became a foe of the white man (understandably so). In 1858 (at age 17) Curly rode with a war party against the Arapahos of central Wyoming. The Arapahos defended their village from behind some boulders on a hillside. Curly decided to ride into the fray and counted coup on two Arapaho warriors. Twice more he charged the enemy and when they confronted him he killed them both with his bow and arrows. After this event, he was renamed “Crazy Horse” after his father. This was a common name among the Sioux.

Crazy Horse was a member of a medicine society called the Thunder Cult, and he sought visions to guide his people.

In 1865, Crazy Horse had counted up to 240 coup. He was then made chief of the Oglalas. In Plains warfare bravery was noted by the “counting of coup.” An eagle feather was awarded to the warrior for each coup. If the enemy was armed and a warrior killed him and took his scalp, a brave received three coup feathers. Capturing an enemies possessions such as his own eagle feathers, brought him great honor. Crazy Horse played an important role (under Sitting Bull) in the harrassing of a 2,000 man column of soldiers lead by Colonel Nelson Cole and Lt. Samuel Walker. He fought in Red Cloud’s War in 1866. On December 6, 1866, during a fight near Fort Phil Kearney, Crazy Horse ambushed another detachment of soldiers. By Decmber 21, 1866, his warriors stationed temselves on the road noth of Fort Phil Kearney and three some soldiers away from the fort to make chase. Then his ten decoys (2 Cheyenne warriors, two Arapaho, and two each of Ogala, Brule, and Minniconjou Sioux) appeared in front of the post. The fort artillery sent the decoys off as though they were frightened and Capt. William F. Fetterson was quoted as saying: “with 80 men I could ride through the Sioux Nation.” Concealed braves launched a barrage of 40,000 arrows and all 81 soldiers were killed or mutilated.

One observer to this battle was private John Guthrie. He reported the following:

All the Fetterman boys huddled together on a small hill … They were mutilated, stripped naked, with crushed skulls and ears, noses, and legs were cut off. Their scalps were torn away. Sgt. Baker of Company C 2nd Cavalry had a sack over his head, and his little finger was cut off in order to take his gold ring. Their entrails lay in the high grass.

On August 2, 1867, Crazy Horse tried the same tactics on some woodcutters near Fort Kearney. He was reconfirmed as the chief of the Ogalas. In the 1873, in a battle against General George Armstrong Custer’s soldiers, Custer’s horse was shoot from under him. Crazy Horse (Tashunca Utico/Tashunka Witka) was a chief that was associated with both Gall and Sitting Bull. In 1876, the army sent three large groups of soldiers against the Sioux and Cheyenne. The first attack was on June 17, 1876 at Montana’s Rosebud River. This was where General George Crook’s column of 1,300 men met an army of Native Americans of equal numbers. They drove Crook’s army back to their camp.

On June 25, 1876, Crazy Horse lead an attack on Custer and his 7th Cavalry. This was at the “Battle of Little Bighorn” or “Custer’s Last Stand.” In the aftermath of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse did not take his band to Canada, as did Sitting Bull, Gall, and others, but he remained in Montana to continue fighting the army’s forces under the command of Col. Nelson A. Miles. By 1877 the buffalo was almost extinct and his starving people were put on the reservation. Crazy Horse had battled many soldiers but had still not managed to put a stop to the occupation of more and more whites to his native home. After discovering that resistence was futile, Crazy Horse surrendered to Col. Miles in May 1877. He was arrested on September 5, 1877. After that Crazy Horse was taken to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, where he was to be confined as a prisoner. Not wishing to be locked up like an animal, Crazy Horses resisted, and was killed by a bayonet thrust through his kidney. This scuffle was with a group of soldiers and Indian police. Crazy Horse died at age thirty-six (36) years of age. Which one of the men delivered the killing blow to Crazy Horse is not certain.

Crazy Horse’s parents recovered his body and buried him in a secret place.


Cruthfield, James A., Bill O’Neil, and David L. Walker. Legends of the Wild West. Lincolnwood, IL.: Publications International, Ltd., 1995.

Hirchfelder, Arlen and Paulette Moon. An Encyclopedia of Native American Religions. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

Newman (editor), Marc. Indian Chiefs of the Old West Card Game. Stamford, Connecticut: U.S. Games System, Inc.

Time-Life Books. The Wild West. New York: Warner Books, 1993

Waldman, Carl. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1988.


Quiet Thunder: The Wisdom of Crazy Horse

Mention the name Crazy Horse, and many of us will remember a history lesson about a faceless Indian warrior who defeated General George Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. But beyond this singular event, who was this man? And what teaching did he offer to all peoples of every nation? On Quiet Thunder, Lakota lineage holder Joseph M. Marshall III presents the first audio-learning program based entirely on the rich oral tradition of his people to share a vibrant portrait “painted with the brush of reality rather than the distortion of legend.” With him, you will meet a compassionate but purposeful man driven by the empowering vision of a “Thunder Dreamer”- one who “walked the path of giving as opposed to gaining,” honor instead of ego, and leadership through leading, not authority. Let the past come alive with Quiet Thunder as Joseph M. Marshall III uncovers the life and teachings of Crazy Horse-warrior, visionary, and beloved leader of the Lakota nation.

One thought on “REBEL YELL: ‘Quiet Thunder’, The Wisdom of Crazy Horse – By Joseph M. Marshall III

  1. Pingback: REBEL YELL: Quiet Thunder, The Wisdom of Crazy Horse – By Joseph M. Marshall III — RIELPOLITIK – A Hole in the Wall

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