Remembering Crazy Horse: Symbol of Native American Freedom

Native American Resistance: The Legacy of Crazy Horse

The first people who lived in the United States are called Native Americans, American Indians, First Americans, or Indigenous Americans. They have different values. This includes American Indians from the main part of the United States and Alaska Natives. The history of Native Americans in the United States goes way back, over tens of thousands of years, when the Paleo-Indians first settled in the Americas.

Paleo-Indians, also referred to as Paleo-Americans or Paleo-Indian peoples, were the early inhabitants of the Americas during the Paleolithic period, which spanned from approximately 15,000 to 10,000 years ago. Paleo-Indians were the earliest human populations in the Americas, and their origins can be traced back to Asia. 

Remembering Crazy Horse: Symbol of Native American Freedom
American Indian Tribes

They are believed to have migrated from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge into North America that connected the two continents. While it is difficult to determine the specific ethnic identities of Paleo-Indians, it is generally accepted that they were part of the inherited Native American population.

During this period, a variety of different cultures thrived. The encounter between Native Americans and Europeans later on had a significant impact on their history. Their history is filled with tales of bravery, resilience, and social conservancy. Among the many notable figures in Native American history, Crazy Horse stands out as a renowned war leader of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

In this article, we aim to delve into Crazy Horse's legacy, focusing on his decision to take up arms against the U.S. federal government. This pivotal choice was driven by his commitment to resisting invasion by white American settlers on Native American territory and preserving the traditional way of life for the Lakota people. Furthermore, it explores international recognition of Native American culture and the initiatives undertaken by the U.S. government to acknowledge their contributions.

From Paleo-Indians to Crazy Horse: Early Inhabitants of the Americas
Bighorn Battlefield

Crazy Horse: The Fearless Warrior of the Lakota

Born around 1840 near present-day Rapid City, South Dakota, Crazy Horse, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, grew up immersed in Lakota traditions and values. From an early age, Crazy Horse showed exceptional courage and leadership skills, earning him respect among his people. 

He is widely recognized and celebrated for his exceptional courage and ferocity in battle, making him one of the greatest warriors in Native American history. His unwavering dedication to preserving the customs and values of the Lakota people motivated him to resist encroachment by white settlers in the Northern Great Plains.

One of Crazy Horse's most renowned engagements was the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Leading a group of warriors, he fiercely confronted the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. This battle resulted in a remarkable triumph for the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, while inflicting a devastating defeat on the U.S. Army.

From Paleo-Indians to Crazy Horse: Early Inhabitants of the Americas
Crazy Horse Monument with Model

However, despite his successful resistance, the escalating military pressure eventually forced Crazy Horse to surrender in 1877. Tragically, later that same year, while under military arrest, he was fatally wounded by a military guard with a bayonet, during a struggle. 

Today, Crazy Horse's legacy endures as a symbol of Native American resilience and liberation. His life and achievements are honored through various mediums, including books, films, and the monumental mountain carving situated in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 1982, the U.S. Postal Service honored him by featuring his image on a 13¢ postage stamp as part of the Great Americans series.

Resisting Westward Expansion: Crazy Horse's Stand for Native American Rights

Crazy Horse, a revered leader of the Oglala Lakota tribe, played a significant role in the Native American resistance movement against white encroachment during the 19th century. As the United States expanded westward, Native American tribes faced mounting threats to their lands and resources.

Crazy Horse became a symbol of defiance and determination, advocating fiercely for the preservation of Lakota territory, cultural traditions, and the overall well-being of his people. He recognized the importance of safeguarding their ancestral lands and the profound connection between the land and the Lakota way of life.

Remembering Crazy Horse: Symbol of Native American Freedom
Indian Policy

Through his leadership and military prowess, Crazy Horse actively resisted the encroachment of white settlers and the U.S. government, striving to protect the rights and autonomy of his people. His unwavering commitment to defending Lakota territory made him a respected and inspirational figure among both his own tribe and other Native American communities.

Crazy Horse's Surrender: Protecting the Lakota and the End of Armed Resistance

The Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 confirmed Crazy Horse's exceptional leadership as he led a coalition of Native American warriors to a stunning victory against the 7th Cavalry Regiment. This battle became an enduring symbol of Native American resistance and highlighted Crazy Horse's tactical brilliance.

However, the relentless military pressure and dwindling resources prompted Crazy Horse to make the difficult decision to surrender in 1877. With the surrender, he sought to protect his tribe and ensure the survival of the Lakota people. This marked a significant turning point, as it signaled the end of armed resistance in the Northern Great Plains and represented a bittersweet conclusion to Crazy Horse's remarkable journey.

Tragic End and Legacy:

Tragically, Crazy Horse's life was cut short later in 1877 when he was mortally wounded by a guard during a struggle while under military arrest. His death left a void in the hearts of the Lakota people and became a symbol of the sacrifices made in the struggle for Native American freedom. Today, Crazy Horse's legacy lives on as a symbol of resistance, cultural preservation, and the fight for indigenous rights.

Native American Resistance: The Legacy of Crazy Horse
Treaty of Penn with Indians by Benjamin West

International Recognition of Native American Culture:

The impact of Native American culture extends beyond U.S. borders. Internationally, there has been a growing recognition of the rich heritage and contributions of Native Americans. Efforts are being made to promote indigenous rights, preserve cultural traditions, and foster understanding and appreciation of Native American history and art.

Cultural Preservation and Promoting Indigenous Voices:

Various organizations and initiatives are dedicated to preserving Native American culture and promoting indigenous voices. These include museums, cultural centers, and educational programs that aim to share the diverse Native American experiences and challenge stereotypes.

U.S. Government Initiatives:

The U.S. government has taken steps to acknowledge and rectify historical injustices against Native Americans. The establishment of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act in 1975, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990 are examples of legislation aimed at recognizing tribal sovereignty, supporting self-governance, and protecting cultural heritage.

Monumental Carvings and Symbols:

One striking symbol of Native American history and culture is the monumental mountain carving of Crazy Horse currently under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculpture is intended to honor Crazy Horse and serve as a reminder of the Native American heritage and ongoing struggles.

Continuing the Legacy:

The legacy of Crazy Horse and other Native American leaders continues to inspire future generations. By preserving their stories, promoting cultural understanding, and supporting indigenous communities, we can ensure that the contributions of Native Americans are recognized and celebrated for years to come.


Crazy Horse's life and legacy serve as a powerful reminder of the resilience, bravery, and cultural heritage of Native Americans. His unwavering commitment to his people's traditions and values, his successful resistance against white encroachment and his tragic end has made him an enduring symbol of Native American resistance and freedom. 

As international recognition grows and the U.S. government undertakes initiatives to rectify historical injustices, it is crucial to continue honoring Native American history, preserving cultural traditions, and supporting indigenous communities to ensure their contributions are recognized and celebrated.