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“The Journey of Crazy Horse” by Joseph M Marshall III

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The first seven chapters begin by talking about the early years of Crazy Horse. These years are significant because it shows how he began his life before he went off to fight mighty battles and became known as an excellent warrior. There are many main points in his early years that lead up to him becoming a warrior. Starting off with his birth and childhood, how he learned different virtues, to finally becoming interested in being a warrior. Each time he was involved with killing a white man or protecting the Lakota during a war, helped him in becoming more of a warrior and leader of his people. Then he was also involved in rescuing people from the white man and by doing this, it had proved that the virtues he had learned have been helpful to him throughout his life. Each event he was involved in was more important than the last, all leading up to the legend he is today. Each main point he was involved with helped him become who he was throughout his life.

He was born in 1840 and for the first few years of his life was cared for by his mother, sister and all of the women of the community. The women taught him life lessons throughout this time while at the same time allowing him to teach himself lessons too. He always had someone close to him to guide him in some way, shape, or form. The boy, who was named Crazy Horse, was given the nickname of the Light Haired One because unlike all other boys in the Lakota tribe his hair and skin were constantly getting lighter while he grew. Growing up, Light Hair was taught gentleness by the women and taught himself the virtues of patience. Many lessons he learned were because he encountered them the hard way and not because he was told or showed by his loved ones.

As he continued to grow older he began to wonder more about his father and his life and journey, which is when the women had to let him go off to follow his father. From his father and grandfathers he began learning the way of the warrior because his mothers and grandmothers had already taught him courage and strength. The first sign that he would become a hunter and warrior was when he was given the gift of a bow and quiver of arrows that suited his strengths and size for the many lessons he would begin to learn from the men in his life. The virtue of knowledge was what the gift was supposed to help him learn because of the proper care for his bow. He learned the proper way to carry, care for the bow and arrows and how to shoot it effectively because of the knowledge his father and grandfathers were teaching him.

The next lesson in life he had to learn was about death, his mother had passed away and he had to learn as a young boy to comprehend that some lives were lived much too short. Throughout the time of grieving Light Hair and his sister were passed around between families for care and grieving. After they were taken to a hill top where all of her things were brought, they learned that she will not be returning and her next journey has begun. Their father was given two wives that were sisters and they all lived together. Light Hair and his sister had new mothers, which took them time getting acquainted and accustomed to the fact that they were to learn more lessons in their lives. They had received a new uncle who was often referred to when courage and leadership was talked about, his name was White Tail. Light Hair had begun to wonder what he would be taught by his new family.

Light Hair realized his father was different than the other men in the tribes; he was a medicine man who had to spend most of his time away from his family. Light Hair recognized his family was different and it caused him to wonder why he was so much different than the others. He was often picked on by the other boys because he looked different. Him being different was only the beginning, his life was about to change in a way that would make him even more different than the other boys who had teased him earlier in his life.

He began to hunt at age seven, he was experienced with his bow which helped him progress to a stouter bow which was stronger and more powerful. His experience at aiming also grew quickly, instead of aiming at the hoop rolling around he was taught that grasshoppers were targets that would teach him even more about hunting. Flying grasshoppers helped the Light Haired one become faster and helped perfect his aim. It was not only the interest that he found in grasshoppers but also the other animals that taught him many lessons in living and hunting. His mentors were the animals, each teaching him different skills and living habits that helped him in his hunting and his knowledge of what it did for him, his family and his community by keeping an abundance of food.

As Light Hair grew older his strengths shown greatly to his teachers, he never would give up. He was taught how to use each weapon and which would help him in what situation. Along with all of his strategy and strengths, he was taught of certain things that would help him in his journeys, friendship and leadership. Light hair was also taught many new things that would help him in the leadership he is known for today.

In 1851 the Fort Laramie Treaty was formed, over eight thousand men, women and children came together and formed an alliance. Enemies, relatives and families came together to form nearly three hundred of their soldiers. Man was beginning to intrude on the land of the Indians and the Indians knew they had to do something. Many enemies became friends, which would also help their future as tribes. The men showed their powers which did not intimidate the Indians but amazed them and also showed them what they were up against. They were troubled by the white man and the three human weaknesses shone, fear anger and arrogance, the weaknesses were about to create a mixture amongst all the men. At this point in time is when Light Hair begins to transition from a boy to a warrior.

A war was started between the Lakota s and the white men because of land arguments and animals. Light Hair and Lone Bear hid, along with other men, from the Lakota tribe and killed many white men. They proved to the white men that although they are little in numbers they are powerful enough to fight for their land and beliefs. Light Hair and Lone Bear continued to hide and keep watch on the white men, by doing this they showed their bravery and also proved themselves to their people.

By Light Hair’s fifteenth year he and the others began to do things that were more of a manly matter such as helping with the horse herds. While becoming a man Light Hair knew that he had to divide his time more wisely between his friends and his mentor, High Back Bone, at this age he also decided to begin going off on his own. He became quieter and liked to be alone, his family accepted that. At this point in time Long Hair was a warrior who was known for his strength and speed. He was invited along on a raid on the Omaha. The raid was successful and Light Hair had learned the struggles in battle, ordinary perceptions did not exist and senses became confused. He also learned that other men can be quicker because they know the land better.

There were times when Light Hair encountered the white man’s camps and found his people hiding or trapped as prisoners. He rescued his people along with other Indian tribe’s people and was brave to look around the camps and stole what he and his people could use or that was taken from them. He also covered his people whose bodies were left dead on the camps for insult to the Indians. When he returned to his camp he told his people of the white man and his doings. He was brave and formed groups to rescue their people and save the Lakota name.

As the Light Haired boy grew, he was offered tobacco and accepted as an adult by the elders of his tribe. He witnessed a sacrifice and a thanksgiving along with a prayer for his people. Light Hair had a dream which lead to a test of medicine. People began to hear of his dream and wanted to put the medicine to the test before the next raid. His dream allowed the people to go to the raid and see if the bullets and arrows would be reflected from them. This was the only raid that Light Hair was not allowed to go on because it was known as a danger to his people, and although they did not win or lose Light Hair had felt as a child again, teased and hurt by their actions of leaving him behind.

After that raid Crazy Horse gave his son a gift of an old muzzle loader in which he had received years before. Light Hair had also received from Little Hawk a cap and ball six-shot pistol he had found on a dead man’s body. That spring was unlike any other in Light Hair’s life because he was given weapons he had never seen on the Indians side.

After a ceremony that Light Hair had attended in which a young woman had caught his eye, he received word that man was creating a raid that would be heading their way tomorrow. He tended to his weapons like any man who is preparing for a battle, before he went to bed. The next day a battle was beginning, the enemy was hiding from them behind large rocks. The Lakota were not hit but had a decision to make, continue up the hill or go home and call it a day. Light Hair and the others decided to continue on and he brought his new bow. It was his first taste at a real battle and was an intense fight for the Lakota.

Many of the white man’s people along with their horses were killed. The fight was over and all the enemies were killed and Light Hairs dream was true, he was not killed by any bullets or arrows, but only harmed on his leg. They all headed back to camp to celebrate, the enemy’s guns and horses had been captured and everyone waited to celebrate with Light Hair. When he went to rest the next morning he woke and his leg was in even more pain, when he rose and left his tent he was greeted by a crowd that was gathered in a circle in front of his tipi. That day was the one where he was given a new name because of his bravery; his father gave him the new name of Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse is a warrior and known by others because of the lessons he learned early in life. Crazy Horse was taught to grow up quicker than normal kids today. He began by learning lessons in life with his family that impacted him in his growth as a child that would also eventually help him grow as an overall person. After he was done learning from the women in his life, he went on to learn the ways of a warrior from the men in his life. He learned many lessons from animals which also prepared him to become a warrior and a man. Crazy Horse learned about death, and the ways of life the hard way because of illness, and war. His first real battle he was wounded and given a name because of his courage and bravery. Crazy Horse lives on today, known as a leader and an Indian who had many battles to become who he is known as.


Marshall, Joseph M. The Journey of Crazy Horse. New York: Penguin Group, 2005.

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