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.
(Note: Apologies to my friend Chris for this article; He's a direct descendant of Custer's)
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.
Well I guess that's not entirely true... there was one survivor from this royal ass-whipping:
Commanche the horse.
The Battle of Little Bighorn, 1876