Is this Crazy Horse?

Most probably not!

Several pictures have been introduced, through the years, purporting to be Crazy Horse, great Oglala war leader. All of them have been discounted by those who discount things like this. By all accounts, save one, Crazy Horse was never photographed. Red Feather, I believe it was, says he saw three photos of Crazy Horse. He is adamant about this. So maybe … Of all the photos, this one, to me, most closely resembles the descriptions of the man. There is another, depicting an Indian with apparent light hair, that’s a close second, but he appears older than Crazy Horse was. All the others are obvious misrepresentations.

Is THIS Crazy Horse?

“He was an uncommonly handsome man. While not the equal of Gall in magnificence and imposing stature, he was physically perfect, an Apollo in symmetry.”

A short while ago, someone posted here on the Mohican Board a reference to Crazy Horse being good looking. I figured it to be an illusion … based on Rodney Grant & Michael Greyeyes portraying him in the movies. But, out of curiosity, I cruised the Internet a bit, looking for anything I could find on Crazy Horse. Lo & behold … this! At first, I didn’t realize who had written it. I thought it the work of some webmaster … Then, after finding the same article on several sites, I paid more attention. It was written by Dr. Charles Eastman, a Dakota (eastern Sioux … Minnesota area). I have no insight into what Eastman was thinking when he wrote this article (the above quote is taken from the beginning portion), but it is filled with inaccuracies. I could dissect it, point by point, but have neither the time nor inclination.

The Crazy Horse I am familiar with, is a strange, rather small man, with distinctively UN-Indian-like features. Never was the impression made, in all the readings I’ve done … and I’ve done A LOT on this guy … that he was even remotely an “Apollo.” In fact, I can’t recall ever reading Eastman’s bio before. Apparently, this account has been dismissed by most historians of note, and with good reason. It is fantasy! It’s one thing for Eastman to have written it … like I said, I have no idea what his motives were … it is quite another to be published, today, as a valid representation of the life of Crazy Horse. It is a prime example of revisionism … selectively using information, without checking its validity, obviously, to create an image to suit one’s own desires.

Here’s what I found, in a quick attempt at finding out what Crazy Horse DID, indeed, look like:

Crazy Horse Contemporaries:

He Dog (lifelong friend) … He was not a very big man. He was of medium stature and build.

Red Feather (younger brother of Crazy Horse’s first wife) … Crazy Horse was a nice looking man, with brown – not black – hair, a sharp nose, and a narrow face. Nobody on the reservation nowadays looks like him. His nose was straight and thin. His hair was very long, straight, and fine in texture

Short Buffalo: (youngest brother of He Dog) … Crazy Horse was a man not very tall and not very short, neither broad nor thin. His hair was very light – about the color of yours . He was a trifle under six feet tall … [he] had a very light complexion, much lighter than the other Indians … His features were not like those of the rest of us. His face was not broad, and he had a sharp, high nose. He had black eyes that hardly ever looked straight at a man …

Little Killer (member of Crazy Horse’s band) … Crazy Horse was a short little man. He did not have black hair; he had brown hair like a white man’s, and a long straight nose. His eyes were black like a Lakota’s.

Dr. McGillycuddy (attending physician at Fort Robinson) … Crazy Horse was a strange looking Indian, and I would have known him anywhere

Lt. Bourke (Army officer) … quite young, not over 30 years old, five feet eight inches high, lithe and sinewy … with a scar on his face

Frank Grouard (Scout) he was light-complexioned, with sandy hair, and did not have the customary high cheekbones of an Indian

Indian Oral Tradition:

Joseph Black Elk: (1966) … light complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, weight about 150 pounds, height five feet, five inches

Jessie Eagle Heart: (1962) … light complexioned, thin faced, straight nose and he wore braids. His hair came to his waist.

I don’t know about you, but nowhere in there do I even remotely hear words used that would cause a writer to describe him as an “Apollo.”

So, this description, promoted today as it is, and coupled with mental images we have from movies, completely falsifies the realities of the knowledge we have of this guy. THAT is revisionism.

We live in a Politically Correct world, manipulated by media … I’m not convinced the average citizen believes in PC … it’s kind of like the vocal minority, but it’s dangerous. It is one thing to revise history based on new-found knowledge. That should be an ongoing process. To promote blatant misrepresentations, especially when the record is out there to check, is revisionism, and promotes an agenda apart from the truth.

Like I said, Eastman’s “bio” can easily be dissected and exposed. Anyone using it to illustrate history, at best hasn’t done their homework. Just one more example. Eastman says, near the end:

“Thus died one of the ablest and truest American Indians. His life was ideal; his record clean. He was never involved in any of the numerous massacres on the trail, but was a leader in practically every open fight.”

I cannot believe Eastman says this, though it is understandable … he probably didn’t have access to the words of others. But, in today’s age, to promote this is shocking! ” … his record clean”??? Crazy Horse had his position as Shirt Wearer taken away from him because of infidelity. That is a fact. A very good case could be made to substantiate the notion that Crazy Horse did become ” … involved in any of the numerous massacres on the trail” after the death of his young daughter.

This is sad, to me. It is very possible to honor the great deeds of this man … a true Lakota Patriot … and stick to the facts. Embellishing is totally counter-productive.

This is what I mean by “revisionist history,” and it is all around us.

Ah, life goes on …

(First published on The Mohican Board)

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