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I am the final war chief never defeated in battle, Lakota. Remember my name now on this walk, my bones and my heart are warm in the hands of my father. Wakandanka has shown me the shadows will break near the creek called Wounded Knee. Remember my name, Lakota. I am the final warchief. Father my heart never defeated in battle. Father, my bones never defeated in battle. Leave them at wounded knee and remember our name, Lakota. I am released from shadow. My horse dreams and dances under me as I enter the actual world. So those are the final lines of the death of Crazy Horse, a poem by Lucille Clifton, who was one of the most prominent black poets of the 1970s and eighties, twice a Pulitzer finalist. And Dominic. She was a native of Buffalo, New York. So I wonder if that possibly explains her interest in the culture of the Lakota.


Maybe. It's interesting, isn't it? Because I think she's obviously an african american poet, or was an african american poet. And it's interesting because it reflects the extent to which crazy horse himself had become a sort of legend of resistance to white America in the seventies and eighties. And the other thing is that poem also points forward to the events, the tragedy at wounded knee in 1890, which we will come on to, which is often seen as the, the terrible climax of the whole story.


Yeah, where hearts are buried.


Exactly. Where hearts are buried at Wounded Knee. So, yes, that sort of intersection of crazy horse, of wounded knee, and the fate of the Plains Indians more generally, and this idea of resistance to kind of white anglo saxon capitalism, I guess.


I mean, I think it, which we've touched on earlier, but I think it points to why Crazy Horse has a particular reputation and status that even Sitting Bull doesn't have for reasons we will be exploring not just in this episode, but in the final episode as well.


Yes, definitely.


But we are in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which Custer had his last stand, or did he in the previous episode. And it is a great, astonishing victory for the Lakota and their various allies, the greatest congregation, the greatest assemblage of Plains Indians probably of all time. And yet for them, it's a disaster, isn't it?


Yeah, that's the irony, isn't it? So we ended last time with news of the defeat, traveling back to Philadelphia, where they're having the centennial exhibition the celebration of the nation's birthday. And of course, for the Americans, it's seen as this seismic, you know, couldn't be more symbolic humiliation. But for the Lakota, it is their last stand. That's the terrible irony of it. They've won this great battle and they have moved off. If you remember, they moved off before the relief force arrived to rescue Benteen and Reno on the top of their hill. But they don't stay together. So almost straight away, I mean, they move for about 150 miles. They know they've won. They're very pleased with themselves. Obviously, they're celebrating, they're mourning, they're dead. But they have a big council when they're about 150 miles away from Little Bighorn, and they make what I think is a completely understandable decision, probably the only decision they would ever, I mean, they had to make such a decision, but it's fatal, which is splitting up. So they divide their forces.


And they do that partly, don't they? Because, you know, there's not enough Buffalo left to feed all of them. But doesn't it also reflect a kind of innocence, the notion that they just want to be left alone and go their own way?


Totally. Because thinking about it, what's their plan there? What's their end game, their strategy? And actually, the truth is, they haven't got one because even if they had stayed together, they would still have been defeated. You know, the Americans would finally have marshaled enough troops to overcome them. Were they going to win a war and carve out a kind of nation state of their own? Clearly, that was never going to happen.


Because it is a seismic shock. And as we know, when America gets a seismic shock, whether it's Pearl harbor or 911 or whatever, the calls for replying with overwhelming military force are overwhelming. And so the generals who have been trying to defeat the plain Indians, they're now in a position to say, well, see, we need more resources.


Exactly. That's exactly it. So even as the Plains Indians, so the Cheyennes have gone to the powder river country, most of the coasters have gone down to the little missiles, Missouri, and they've split up into their different groups. So the Hunkpapas, the Oglalas and so on and so forth, they've completely fragmented in the weeks after little big one. But while that is happening, the generals who have heard the news of Custer's defeat are telling reporters, okay, the gloves are off now.


So General Sherman, no more mister nice guy.


Yeah. He says to a reporter, we will hunt them down and corral them on reservations. We will either do that now or we will exterminate them. That is where we are now. And Sheridan, who has been. I mean, don't forget all these generals have been pressing for ten years or more to have more resources in the army. Because the army has been cut back so much since the end of the civil war. So Sheridan and Sherman go to Congress and they say, right now, you have to give us what we want. We want a bigger army. We want more forts in the middle of the unceded indian territory. And we want to have military control of the indian agencies. All these Quakers and whatnot. You know, trying to run the agencies, that's a shambles. Let us do this. We're military men. We will sort this out. We will sort out your mess effectively. So Congress gives them a lot more money. Congress gives two of the agencies to military control. The red cloud and spotted tail agencies. It recruits thousands of new volunteers.


So they're called the Custer Avengers, aren't they?


The Custer Avengers. I know it couldn't be more resonant, could it? They recruit new indian auxiliaries and they basically say to General Sheridan, right, crack on, do it as you like. Forget about all the previous treaties and deals. You do what needs to be done so effectively.


They are weaponizing Custer's defeat.


Yes, totally. Absolutely. They are. Now, meanwhile, there's a political dimension to this. So in August, 1876, that's a few weeks after the battle of the little Bighorn, President Grant signs a new law. And this is as follows. There will be more rations for the Plains Indians. So those on the reservations will get more food. Basically. Durant says, let's be frank about this. You know, we've been pussyfooting around this for too long. The buffalo is gone. That is finished. You are going to have to rely on us totally now. But the quid pro quo is you can't go roaming and hunting. That is dead. And you have to give up your claim to all of that so called unceded indian land.


And that includes the Black Hills, doesn't it? Which is where crazy horse has gone with his troop.


Exactly. So all of that territory, that sort of vast wilderness. I mean, I say wilderness is probably the wrong word.


Which they had been promised.


Which they had been promised, effectively, that's ours now. You can forget about that. You've blown it. You know, the battle of the Bighorn was too much. And if you don't surrender, you just won't get any rations at all. And you will starve. That's what Grant says. And what happens is after a lot of palaver and back and forth. Red cloud.




So remember Red Cloud from previous episodes, you know, previously a great warrior, now much more of a moderate, but also.


Dominic, crucially, a man who has been to Washington.




And seen what is there in the east. So he knows what he's up against in a way that perhaps other leaders don't.


Yeah. He's seen the panoply of american power, but somebody like crazy horse, he hasn't. So it's easy to hold out, I suppose, when you're deluding yourselves about the scale of the forces ranged against you. There's a story that some chiefs, at least one chief, covered his face with a blanket while signing this deal because he knew that what they were giving away was everything, really, that they're basically giving up the whole lot because they're.


Not just giving up land, are they? They're giving up their whole way of life.


They are indeed. They are. Indeed. There's a story that another one of sort of the real big cheeses in the lakota world is a guy called spotted tail. So one of the agencies is named after spotted tail. Spotted tail said, every time this happens, you know, you say if you don't sign, you'll get nothing to eat. You blackmail us every single time. Whenever we don't agree, you always reply, you won't get anything to eat. You won't get anything to eat. And he has this big rant, and then he picks up the pen and he signs anyway because he has no choice. It's a very sad scene. So the Black Hills are gone and the great Sioux reservation, a third of it, is gone like that. And the unceded indian territory is gone as well. And then the generals do something very canny, very kind of ruthless and canny. They depose red cloud as the great sort of head chief, and they say to spotted tail, you are the big cheese now. So that's basically, let's make an example of red cloud and getting spotted tail.


In onside, but also dabbling his fingers in the blood of the whole deal.


Yeah. And they say all your supporters can keep their guns, but only red clouds followers, they have to give up their guns. And by saying that the others can keep their guns, it drives a wedge between them, of course. And so what you have after that is you actually have so called reservation Lakotas who had previously been quite close to the Lakotas who were the holdouts, the hardliners, and in fact, many had fought at the battle they had. Now they start to sign up with the government. The government is basically. It's the carrot and stick. And this is the carrot. The government says, you can keep your guns, we'll give you food, we'll look after you. You just sign up with us now and we'll fight against those rebels.


Because there is this irony, isn't there, that red Cloud says of crook, he at least never lied to us. Yeah, and that must taste like ash in his mouth. But he's also. I mean, his nickname is Gray Wolf, isn't it, that he. He hunts, he's cunning. He pulls down his quarry.




And after his reverse at the Rosebud, they call him kind of the squaw general. Now he's back in full lupine mode.


Exactly right. He recruits warriors from eight different tribes. And the really interesting thing is, this is the first time some of those warriors have ever fought together. So some historians say. The great irony is there was only one time when the Plains Indians were united. And it was when Crook and Sheridan and the other generals united them to fight for them, for the US army, against sitting ball and crazy horse and company, who are the kind of the holdouts who are still wandering goodness knows where because they're searching for them. And actually Sheridan brings in a new commander who actually, tom, I have to say I'd never really heard of before researching this story called Nelson a Miles. And Nelson a Miles is like Custer, but much better, which is why we haven't heard of him. Because he's not killed in a sort of disastrous last stand.




He'd been friends with Custer. He's incredibly ambitious, as Custer is, and driven. And he's married to Sherman's niece. He's a civil war hero. And Miles, he is cut in the sort of from the same cloth as Sheridan, Sherman. So he is really ruthless.


I think he ends up head of the entire US army.


He does, yeah.


He has the brilliant career that Custer had rather hoped that he might have.


He has Custer's dream career. Really?




I mean, actually, Miles even fancied himself as a presidential candidate later on in life. So, you know, he has custody career, but because he's so successful.


Yeah, we don't hear about him.


Nobody's ever heard of him. Yeah, it's so ironic. Anyway, so he leads a winter campaign. He makes sure his men are really well equipped.


Dominic, he can do a winter campaign because he has a bear coat. And this is what they call him bare coat.


They call him bear coat. Yes, you're right. I mean, I think the very fact that he has a bear coat. That alone is not enough, but it.


Conveys a sense that he's concerned for winter wear.


He is, and he makes sure his men are. I mean, Congress has voted them more money now because they're out for revenge. So they're better shod and they're better equipped and all that kind of thing. So Miles is pursuing a sitting bull through, you know, the nothingness through the plains and eventually on the morning of the 20 October. So what are we, about four or five months after the battle of the little Bighorn? He overtakes sitting Bull's sort of encampment in what is now southern Montana. And Sitting Bull says, well, we'll have a council. So they have this kind of council. Sitting Bull is all wrapped up in a buffalo robe and Miles is all in his big bear coat.


Just wondering. I mean, sitting Bull is the guy who has inflicted this devastating defeat and killed the most famous military man in America, and they're not going after to kill them. I mean, they're going off to negotiate. That seems quite striking.


They're smart people. They're a long way from congressional pressure, from political pressure and from east coast newspapers so they can make decisions as they see fit. It will take a long time for the news to travel back. So I don't think they feel the same urgent sort of pressure of public opinion that a general would now, under the same conditions, they have a little bit more latitude, I think, and they're smart.


It just seems striking that we're going to be talking a lot about us military atrocities, but it is striking that they're not, you know, it's not like the hunt for Osama bin Laden or anything. No, they're sitting down and having a chat with the guy who commanded the army that killed Custer.


But is that not Tom, to an extent, because they deep down recognize that. I mean, they've said so many times, if I were in their shoes, I would do the same. Yeah, I think that must be part of it. I mean, much as they talk about the so called savagery of the native peoples, they don't demonize them to the extent that, let's say, the Japanese would be demonized after 1941. People don't talk about them the same way as they talk about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in the two thousands.


But maybe it's more a civilian thing, because it is striking how the high command, even while they're pursuing this ruthless policy again and again, they do kind of almost. I mean, by the end, they're expressing.


Regret yeah, and by the way, it works both ways.


So Sheridan and Crook will both by the end be saying, oh, we've done, you know, it's terrible happened.


That thing you said about them saying they trust crook. I think it works both ways because I think the native leaders, you see it again and again that they will say, well, at least general so and so is a person you can do business with. You know, they don't lie to us like the politicians lie to us. I think there is a modicum of respect maybe between the two sides.


Yeah, I just thought it was worth flagging up.


No, it's a really good point. So anyway, Miles says to Sitting Bull, look, my job is to bring you back to the reservation. You can't be roaming around anymore. Those days are gone. So sitting Bull is furious and he says, yeah, that's not going to happen. I'm never coming back to the reservation. He says, the white man never lived who loved an Indian and no true Indian ever lived that did not hate the white man. God Almighty made me an indian and he didn't make me an agency indian and he didn't intend me to be one. And Miles says to him, this is madness. If you do not come, we will exterminate you. Basically, they have another meeting the next day. Miles is really struck by how miserable sitting Bull is. It's some months after the battle now. The excitement has worn off. The game is very hard to find. They're hungry, winter is coming. They are miserable. Miles writes to his wife and he says he appeared much depressed, suffering from nervous excitement and the loss of power. At times, he was almost inclined to accept the situation. But I think partly from fear, which is interesting, and partly from the belief that he might do better, he did not accept, but I think that many of his people were desirous to make peace.


I mean, this is the thing, isn't it? You said they just want to be left alone. Really deep down, I think an awful lot of sitting bull and crazy horses followers, they really would just like things to go back to how they were.


Well, we'll see that, won't we, with the ghost dance?




Great yearning is for the buffalo to come back.




And for the ways to have been what they were.


But of course, that's never going to happen. That's the tragedy. So the talks break up. There's actually a bit of a skirmish. It's very clear that the natives in all this trudging here and there, a lot of them have lost their sort of fighting spirit, as it were. Some of them actually do surrender to miles. So sitting Bull's alliance kind of breaks up a bit. And what follows in the next few months, I mean, we don't need to go through every bit of it, is that actually they fragment further and further as miles and crook wage this relentless pursuit through the blizzards and the snows of winter. They are cold, they are miserable. There's a terrible story about a group of northern Cheyenne who had been big allies of the Lakota. Crook catches up with them at something called the dull knife fight in November.


That's bad, isn't it? You don't want to be in a dull knife fight.


Yeah. Their village is totally destroyed. The Cheyenne village is totally destroyed. Lots of them are killed. Lots of historians say pretty much all of their heritage is in this village. You know, this village is where they keep all their stuff and they travel around with it. Their war bonnets, their buffalo hides, their holy relics.


That is what is happening. Their past is being destroyed.


Yeah. And it's all burned. It's put to the torch.


Their ability to conserve who they are, the people they have been, is being deliberately annihilated.


That's right. They're pretty much freezing. Lots of them surrender, and then what happens to the Cheyenne is really instructive. So they surrender to a crook and he says, right, you're going off to a reservation. And that reservation is not in Montana or Wyoming or the Dakotas. It's in Oklahoma. It is hundreds of miles away. They're sent off to this reservation. There are other Cheyenne at this reservation, but they're southern Cheyenne. The southern Cheyenne say to them, who the hell are you? Oh, we're Cheyenne, too. And they're like, no, you're not. You're Lakotas. You know, you've gone Lakota, basically.




And they realize that effectively they've lost their rootedness. Some. They've lost all their heritage. Their own brethren don't really recognize them.


Well, that's the paradox, isn't it, that their nomadic nature has been uprooted.


Yeah, it's terrible what happened to them, actually. They were incredibly badly treated in this reservation in Oklahoma. They weren't given enough food. General Sheridan himself said, they've been totally lied to. We were meant to be sticking them on the reservation.


Yeah. I mean, Crook spends the last years of his life speaking out against the unjust treatment that he sees as having been meted out to his adversaries on the plains.


It's incredible, actually, when you think that the very people who fight such ruthless campaigns against them are often the most eloquent advocates of their cause. Listen to this, Sheridan. A report. 1878. So less than two years after Custer's defeat, he's writing this about the northern Cheyenne. He says, we've occupied his country, taken away his lordly domain, destroyed his herds of game, penned him up on reservations and reduced him to poverty. For humanity's sake, let us give him enough to eat and integrity in the agent over him. So it's not that they don't know what they're doing, you know, it's not modern wokery. No, because the generals themselves are so conscious that promises have been broken and people are being really, really badly treated.


I mean, it's also. It's a frustration on the part of the military with the inadequacy of the civilian frameworks that have been promised and which presumably they have no control over.


Yeah, they don't, because as we will see later on when we get to the story of the ghost dance and woo de knee, those civilian frameworks are so prone to corruption, you know, their patronage networks, basically for people to profit from.


And it gives power, incredible power of life and death, effectively because the person in charge of a reservation can starve his wards to death if he wants to.


He can, yeah. Terrible.


And that has a terrible effect on quite a lot of those agents.


I think it does indeed. So, just to wrap up this bit of the story, 1877 opens and really there are only two of the big names left out there, which are sitting Bull and crazy horse. And Colonel Miles is harrying left, right and center in his bearskin coat. He is closing in. And in January 1877, he has a showdown with crazy horses. Banned. It's called the battle of the Wolf Mountain. Very Game of Thrones. Tom. In Montana, the heat and the dust and the sunlight of little Bighorn are very long. I mean, it's only six months or so, but might as well be, you know, thousands of years earlier because it is 30 degrees below freezing, 30 degrees fahrenheit. Obviously, it's blizzards. Everybody is really miserable. Crazy horse tries to launch this attack, you know, his classic sort of maneuver, and it just doesn't work. It's too cold, there's too much snow.


He hasn't got enough men.


No. So actually very few people die, but it's just awful. And they grind to a halt in the blizzard.


His medicine is gone.


Yeah. He's lost his mojo, basically. And he gets away and he has a meeting with Sitting Bull. He teams up with Sitting Bull and sitting Bull says to him, I've had enough. You know, it's only months since they beat Custer, but we haven't got any food. We're freezing, we're miserable. And it's clear the Americans are not going to give up. Yeah.


And so it's too cold. So let's go to Canada.


That's mad, isn't it? I mean, that's the maddest decision of all. But he says, the grandmother's land, that's what they call it, Queen Victoria's land. I'm going to the grandmother's land. You'll be better treated. He says there's a line. And on that side of the line you are free to do whatever you please. And that is where I'm going. And actually, Sitting Bull is being pulled as much as anything because so many of his people, as it were, you know, his kind of followers, have actually made the decision for him. They're already set off and they're going.


To Canada, off to the British Empire.


Now, what's crazy horse going to do? Is he going to go to the British Empire as well? He sees sitting Bull trudge off through the snows. What is Crazy Horse going to do? His people, his aglala kind of followers are arguing among themselves. He gets quieter and quieter. He's never great man for council meetings anyway. He gets quieter and quieter. Just sits there brooding. And then on the 5 March 1877, he and his wife pack up their teepee and they walk off into the wilderness. And what he's actually doing, he is going on a vision quest. He is going to commune with the spirits and they will tell him the way forward, what is the best path to take.


Or will they? I think we should take a break at this point. And when we come back, we will find out if the great spirits do speak to Crazy Horse and if they do speak to him, whether the solutions they give him turn out to be effective or not.




Welcome back to the rest is history. And Dominic. We left everyone on cliffhanger.




Crazy Horse has gone out into the wilderness to consult with the spirits. And you know, the big question, are they going to help him?


Terrible scenes from the spirits don't help him at all. Oh, no, I know. Gutting.


Oh, crazy horse.


So he goes out, he fasts, he prays, he's in the blizzards and he's waiting for divine guidance and no guidance comes. I mean, this is a sign, actually, of how seriously they take it. He doesn't fabricate, you know, he doesn't say, oh, well, actually, they told me he doesn't make something up.


Crazy horse is not a fraud.


No, no, not at all.


I mean, we've talked about his integrity.




This is not a man who makes things up.


So he comes back and the other guys say, listen, while you were away, we've made up our minds. No good. We're giving up. There's no point, no point in fighting on. One of them says, a guy called Iron Hawks, says to him, you see all the people here in rags? We all need clothing. Might as well go in. And crazy horse is basically a broken man. And he says, yeah, sort of, whatever.


And this is seen, isn't it, as marking a real turning point. So you quote Lieutenant John Burke, who watches him crazy horse ride in, are having surrendered. And he says, this surrender terminates the indian war so far as General Crook's forces are concerned. If the government will only keep its promises and treat these red men with justice, we shall have no more indian wars.


Well, I mean, he's right. To some degree, they do have no more indian wars. But whether, of course, they're going to treat them with justice, I mean, listeners can probably guess what the answer to that's going to be so, crazy horse, it's the 6 May, 1877. I mean, amazing how quick the turnaround has been. You know, less than a year after little Bighorn, crazy horse rides into Fort Robinson, which is sort of overseeing the Red Cloud agency, as it's called, in Nebraska. It's his reservation in Nebraska. The guy who receives him is a guy called Lieutenant William Filo Clark. Again, he's a sign of how it's not, as it were, black and white, the division between the, you know, it's not good Indians and bad Americans, because.


Lieutenant Clark, he's very interested in Lakota culture, isn't he?


He's really fascinated by Lakota culture. He's learned a kind of sign language that he can communicate with the Lakotas in, and, and the scouts and the Indians in the reservation think of Lieutenant Clark as a good chap, you know, who looks out for them and does his best for them. And they smoke a peace pipe together. And crazy Horse gives this guy, we talked about handshaking as a theme of the series, Tom. He gives him his left hand, and that symbolizes a desire for peace. So he holds out his hand. The tragedy is that crazy Horse has been sold a complete lie. He had said we would come in if you would give us our own agency, our own reservation west of the Black Hills, and if we will be allowed to go on a buffalo hunt.


And there's tremendous kind of pathos there, isn't there? Yeah, because he clearly doesn't realize the scale of the catastrophe that has overwhelmed the buffalo, the bison.


Yeah. And General Crook says, sure, I'll just check with the great father in Washington, DC, the president. But he knows there is no possibility whatsoever that crazy horse will get either of those things. And actually they won't. The government have no intention of letting him go hunting. Hunting is dead. They must become farmers now. So the weeks go by and crazy horse becomes very, very miserable and restive. And the army say to him, listen, why don't you go to Washington if you like, this new president, Rutherford B. Hayes, why don't you go and meet Rutherford B. Hayes? That'd be nice for you.


And he says, no. And I think that is, you know, he doesn't go there. He doesn't put on the top hat, he doesn't get photographed.


Yeah, you admire him for that, Tom?


I do admire him.


I'd like to meet Rutherford B. Hayes, a crazy name, crazy guy.


Yeah, I know you would, of course, but you are not a wild spirit galloping around the plains killing buffalo.


It's true. Never pretended to be, Tom.


That is the difference between you and crazy Horse, Dominic.


Yeah, one of many, actually. Let's be honest, I'm just promoting the.


Most salient point of difference there.


The army feel quite sorry for him. So Lieutenant William Philo Clark reports. He says crazy Horse wants to do the right thing. He just doesn't know what the right thing is. Another captain says, crazy horse is all right. If people would just leave him alone and not buzz him so much, he'd come out all right. In other words, because he's well known, he's sort of being bullied and people are making fun of him and giving him a tough time and stuff.


I mean, they'd be taking selfies of him, wouldn't they?


Well, worse than that, I think we talked very early on 6000 podcasts ago about how the so called Indians, the Native Americans, were never united. And even within these groups, they're not united. And there are people out to get him. There are people who say, oh, he's made a name for himself. He thinks he's know Billy big boots, let's bring him down. I'd like to be the big man now instead of crazy horse. So there are people whispering against him and saying, oh, he's plotting against red cloud, all of this kind of thing. So he's sort of being ostracized a little bit and he's conscious that he's being plotted against. So actually what he spends his time doing, it's a very sad time. I know you love crazy horse, and you also love. You love birds, don't you? So this is a very sad moment.


For you, this terrible story where he rides out, doesn't he?




And he sees a dead eagle.




Lying in the plains. And he says, I saw myself.


Yeah, there's that. And he has a dream about riding a white pony. And he rides this pony, and there's enemies on every side of him. And he dies in the dream, but.


Not of a bullet.


And he wakes up and he tells everybody, he says, I died, but I wasn't shot. But, you know, he thinks something is coming.


So to that extent, he still has good medicine.




As we'll see.


As we will see. Yeah. So it's against this background. Remember we said that general crook in particular is very canny, and he is recruiting groups to play off against other groups, recruiting them into the army and so on, effectively. And he says, I would like crazy Horse to come and help me in a campaign. There's another tribe called the. I always find a strange name. I assume it's Nez Perce Pierce noses. But it's always written without the accent, so it looks like somebody called Nez perceived.


Let's just say a native american people.




With a frenchified name.


Exactly. These frenchified fops, they're all eating garlic.


And stripey t shirts.


Onions, right. So Lieutenant Philo Clark says, are you going to come with us and fight these fellows? And they have this meeting. And Crazy Horse at first says, I thought you told me the fighting was over. You know, really? I mean, I was only fighting you quite recently, and now you want to drag me out again? They say, oh, yeah, definitely. And he says, fine, yes, yes, I'll come with you. But now there's a terrible error, a mistranslation. Crazy horse is the only person I think. I mean, there can't be many people in history whose entire fate is decided by a bad interpreter. But this is what happens now, because listeners will remember a man called Frank Gruard, Flashman's son. Son of Flashman and a South Sea islander. Polynesian.




Frank Gerard is still in business and is interpreting, and he translates Crazy Horse's words. Crazy Horse had actually said, we'll come north of you and we'll fight until all these french fellows are killed. The ne per se. FrAnk GrUJ, translates this as, yeah, I intend to go north and fight until every white man is killed.


So you say it's a mistranslation. Yeah, but I reckon, I mean, grouard.


Is full of shit, right?


He's a crocker. Shit, I'd go so far as to say.


Yeah. Technical term is that, Tom?


So he clearly is spreading rubbish stories about Crazy Horse because he has some story that he owned a piece of buckskin that he'd got from Crazy Horse's father and that on this piece of buckskin the entire 800 year history of the Lakota had been written. And also that he had some enormous cloak made up of sitting bull scalp victims.




And that both of these have been burned down in a fire. So I.


You mistrust his motives?


I do not think he's the most trustworthy person.


I think you're judging him by flashman, though, aren't you? You're judging him by his father's standards. No, I'm not.


Because, I mean, genuinely, the scope for George MacDonald Fraser to say that he's Flashman's son is because he tells all kinds of nonsense stories about his parentage. I mean, almost everything he says is made up.


Yes. So it is possible, and some historians do think that this is a trick, that he's betrayed crazy horse because he says to Lieutenant Clark, crazy Horse says he's going to kill every white man in the north or whatever.


Yeah, I think he's got blood on his hands.


Clark is like, what? And he loses his temper with crazy horse. Crazy horse loses his temper with him and storms out of the meeting. So what a crazy end to this meeting. Actually, Crazy Horse was agreeing he was going to go anyway. Immediately the american military and whatnot starts saying, oh, my God, crazy horse has gone mad. He's going to attack us all. He's going to break out.


I mean, it's interesting, isn't it, the degree to which, for Americans, the fact he's called crazy horse leads them to think that he is crazy.


Yeah, they think he is crazy. I think at this point they think he's just gone mad. So General Crook arrives at the reservation. Oh, gosh, what's going to happen? Sheridan has told him, you have to sort this out. We can't allow crazy Horse to break out and start roaming around in a sort of mad manner. Crook goes to the reservation. He meets with red cloud. You know, the old kind of. So as it were, the greybeard and the obi wan of the obi wan of the. Look. Now, red cloud hates crazy horse because he thinks Crazy Horse is a rival of his. He says to crook, let's just kill him. Let's kill him now. Crook said, whoa. That's kind of a bit much.


Steady on.


Yeah, exactly. Steady on.


We're not like that.


He says, we'll arrest him. Will arrest him tomorrow, actually. What crazy horse then does on the 4 September, he flees. He flees from Fort Robinson and he goes off to the spotted tail agency and he goes to a place called Camp Sheridan. So he's gone on the run, effectively. At Camp Sheridan, his uncle spotted tail is in situ, another of the great bigwigs like red cloud. Crazy horse arrives and he says, uncle, you know, I'm in a terrible mess. Please, will you give me a home here at this agency? And there's hundreds of people there because Crazy Horse is such a big. No, you know, such a big figure, so well known. And spotted tail humiliates him in front of all these people. He says, you know, no, basically, nephew, he says, we never have any trouble at this agency. I am the chief. If you, you know, you would have to listen to me. You can't be coming here causing trouble and all this kind of thing. And Crazy Horse, he's described as something he, like, physically wilts.


Well, there's this incredible description by Lieutenant Jesse Lee.




Who's one of the officers in charge of the reservation and describes crazy horse seeming like a frightened, trembling wild animal brought to bay, hoping for confidence one moment and fearing treachery the next.


Oh, it's terrible. So they say to Crazy horse, the officers, they don't come out of this too badly. They say, look, mate, come here. Come on. Come into the hut or whatever and we'll have a little chat, see if we can sort this out. And he goes in and it's a pitiful scene, isn't it? He says to them, I don't want any trouble. I want to get away from the trouble at Red Cloud. They've misunderstood and misinterpreted me there. I would like to be transferred to this agency. They gave me no rest at Red Cloud. I was talked to night and day. My brain is in a whirl. I just want to do what is right. It's actually so sad. It's like a sort of schoolboy summoned to see the headmaster who doesn't understand what he's done wrong but knows he's in the most terrible trouble. I mean, that's basically where crazy horse is.


And so he says he will go and plead his cause. Plead his case?


Yeah. Go back to Fort Robinson and explain himself and what has gone wrong.


One of the Things he does that, I think, again, I kind of admire him for. Is that before he leaves, he makes sure that his Wife is okay.




You know, that she's secure and safe.




And that's Black Shawl who will. I think she dies of the Spanish flu.


Oh, really?


It lives for a long time.


We're now at the point in the story where some of these people that we're talking about are going to be alive in the second world war.


I know, you know, they have this homeric quality. We've been saying it and it seems astonishing that they live to see. I know, the spanish flu and the second world war.


Yeah, exactly. So the next day, crazy horse goes back to Fort Robinson and actually Lieutenant Lee, who you quoted, he goes with him to sort of escort him. They get to FoRt Robinson and LieuteNant Lee thinks, oh, this, this doesn't feel right. The place is rammed with red clouds, warriors. And some of them have actually in war paint and there are loads of cavalrymen with rifles and it all feels a little bit intimidating. So when they get there, the officer of the day, who is a guy called Captain Kennington, he says, you know, you're not going to get to talk to the colonel today. I'll take charge of you, you know? Okay, fine, thank you very much. I'll take you now. And Lieutenant Lee is a bit disturbed about this. Like, why is he not going to get to talk to the colonel? And he goes to see the colonel himself, Lieutenant Lee, he says, crazy horse, you wait here, I'll go and see the colonel. He goes to see the colonel, it's called Colonel Bradley. He says, crazy horse wants to come and talk to you and explain himself. Colonel Bradley just says, look, I'm really sorry, it's too late.


The orders have come from General Sheridan. They've had enough of crazy horse. We're going to take him right now to hq in Chicago and then we're going to put him on a train or something and we are going to take him to an island off the coast of Florida and he'll just be left there to rot. One of the Tortugas, which for Crazy.


Horse would be the worst fate imaginable.


It would be. It would be, be terrible. And you know, they're all quite sad about it, but, well, the decision has been made, what can we do? So Lieutenant Lee goes back to Crazy Horse and he says, you know, it's night, it's very late, so you can't see the colonel. I think you should just go with them. You know, you won't be harmed. You know, he just tries to calm him and crazy Horse is sort of smiling weakly. Fine. And two guys take crazy Horse and they take him outside and one of.


Them is little big man, isn't it?




His friend, his cousin. I mean, they were relatives and little big man had fought at the bighorn.




But here he is. He's decided which side he's on.


Do you know what I mean? I know we've said it so many times. It is like something from a greek tragedy, isn't it?


It really is. So here is betrayal.


Is betrayal. Yeah. They take him outside and then Crazy Horse is like, what? They seem to be turning towards the guardhouse and there's a cell and he can see inside and he can see that there's this big cell and there's these blokes who are shackled to iron balls.


And that is the worst thing imaginable for someone who is used to riding around the plains without being penned in a reservation, let alone in a cell.


Exactly. And he says, I don't want to go in there. That's the place where they keep the prisoners. And at that moment he tries to break free. And he tries to break free from little big man and Captain Kennington, who are holding his two wrists. And little Brigman goes to grab him again. And Crazy Horse has got a hidden knife. He pulls out the knife and he slashes little big man's arm. And at that point, Captain Caynton shouts, stab the son of a bitch. Stab the son of a bitch. And a private comes up behind him and thrusts his bayonet into Crazy Horse's back.


And so his vision was right. He wasn't shot.


He wasn't shot. He pierces his kidney and his lung. Crazy horse screams and falls to the ground and the guy stabs him again. And in the confusion and the melee, the surgeon of the post, who is a man with the implausible name of Valentine T. McGillicuddy, he pushes his way through and he sees the crazy horse is obviously in a terrible state. There's blood everywhere. They carry him into an office.


And Dominic, crucially.




They do not lay him on a cot.


No. He asked to be put on the floor.


Crazy Horse refuses to lie on the cot.


Yes. What's he got against lying on a cot?


We'll come to that in a minute.


Okay. Oh, I'm excited. I want to know. I can't wait.




And actually it's terrible. He lingers for hours and he just keeps saying, I don't know why. They stabbed me. But he says, interestingly, the white men are not to blame for this. It's the Indians who are to blame. I've been betrayed by my own people. And actually, Crazy Horse's father always said there was red cloud and spotted tail, the bigwigs who had plotted against his.


Son, the top hatted Washington.


Yes, exactly. And he died just before midnight, didn't he? In his last words, Tom, I just want to be left alone. All I wanted was to be left alone. So sad.


So, Dominic, you may remember there was a reading about Custer from Ian Frazier's book on the Great Plains, which I said I adored and I carried around with me when I was visiting all these sites.


Oh, yeah.


And I loved that book because it gets something that is charismatic about Custer, but it also completely gets what is charismatic about crazy horse. And, you know, he talks about how there are scholars who look at the cult of Crazy Horse and say, it's mad. You know, he was nobody. And he says, no, I love crazy horse. I admire him. And then he writes this passage about his death. What I return to most often when I think of Crazy Horse is the fact that in the adjutant's office, he refused to lie on the cot, mortally wounded, frothing at the mouth, grinding his teeth in pain, he chose the floor instead. What a distance is between that cot and floor. On the cot, he would have been, in some sense ours, an object of pity, an accident victim, the noble red man, the last of his race, etcetera, etcetera. But on the floor, crazy horse was. Crazy horse still on the floor. He remembered Agent Lee summoned him, forgave him. On the floor, unable to rise, he was guarded by soldiers even then. On the floor, he said goodbye to his father. And on the floor, still as far from white men as the limitless continent they once dreamed of, he died, touched the clouds, pulled the blanket over his face.


That is the lodge of crazy horse lying where he chose. Crazy horse showed the rest of us where we are standing with his body. He demonstrated that the floor of an army office was part of the land and that the land was still his. Yeah, I mean, it's tremendous, soaring prose, and you can imagine the impact of that when you're out in the plains and feeling very romantic and sad about the whole business.


Yeah, it is a great piece of writing, and it's a sad story. You know, a great warrior deserved a better end. I think it's fair to say, tom, but I think.


I mean, I think it has the quality of Arthur going off to Avalon he has a dignity in death that none of the other heroes of the little bighorn. So sitting Bull and gall, most notably, will have, as we will see.


Yeah. Before we conclude the episode, let's just say what happened to sitting Bull, because he had, of course, gone off to Canada. And actually, Canada comes out of this quite well, doesn't it, Tom? Hurrah for Canada does. Yeah, we get a lot of grief from Canadians. Not enough canadian history. I think this series can count as 26 episodes of canadian history.


Yeah, well, so it's a point that Benteen had made long before, when there was a big kind of argument about whether Custer should keep his word or not. And he says we should because that's what they do in Canada, and they don't have trouble in Canada.


Benteen, what was right, that keeping your.


Word is really, really important?


Well, actually, sitting Bull said that, didn't he? He got on really well with the Mounties. He thought the Mounties were great.


He loved their red coats. And I think there's a lesson there for all american listeners. Red coats. Good.




I mean, Sitting Bull says of the United States, that country is positive, poisoned with blood, contrasting it with Canada.


Crikey. Not the grandmother's land, though. The grandmother's land was brilliant. So he went up to Canada and, you know, at first, all was good. Meanwhile, of course, back in America while he's been gone, so when he's away, he becomes this great legend because he's somebody who's. He's the one who escaped. So people tell all these mad stories about him. One person, Captain McGarry, I think his name was, published a book or something, saying that Sitting Bull could read French and had studied the campaigns of Napoleon.


Was that with the ne per se?


Yeah. Undoubtedly. Another man, another expert said that Sitting Bull was actually not a Lakota. He was a very hirsute white man called Bison McLean.


Of course he was.


Who had graduated from West Point in 1848 and had subsequently been court martialed and then had joined the Lakota. That's an intriguing story. Anyway, he wasn't either of those things. He's actually just up in Canada. And you know what? As much as he likes Canada, Canadians.


Don'T want him, really, do they? They're just not that into him.


No. The buffalo are kind of becoming extinct there as well. He's, of course, not canadian, so the Canadians don't really want to help him. He and his followers sometimes go close to the border or go over the border, and that creates issues for the Canadians because it's kind of a border crisis with the Americans and over time, they start to run out of food again. So the years pass by, 1870, 918.


80, and they're being menaced by the native peoples in Canada as well, aren't they?


Oh, yeah. The native peoples there despise them. They don't want anything to do with them at all because they're competing for the same resources which are depleted. Exactly. So, to quote one of the many books on this subject, by early 1881, only the weak and the elderly stood by, sitting bulls subsisting on fish, small game and handouts and friendly traders. Clothing rotted and fell from their bodies. War parties of canadian Indians circled their tattered village like vultures. So a very kind of pathetic end. And eventually he just decides, I'm going to go back to America and. And surrender. And he does that. In July 1881, he cuts a very, very forlorn and miserable figure. All the officers say he doesn't seem well. He seems very depressed, hungry, miserable.


Well, he sings a sad song, doesn't he? A warrior. I have been. Now it is all over a hard time.


I have. Thank God it was short, eh?


Well, you can imagine that. To sacred spirit.


Yes. So he surrenders his rifle, Winchester rifle, he gives it to one of his sons to give it to the Americans, and he says, I surrender this rifle to you through my young son, who I now desire to teach in this manner that he becomes a friend of the Americans. I want him to learn the habits of the whites and to be educated as their sons are educated. This boy has given it to you and he now wants to know how he is going to make a living. Of course, the truth is, sitting Bull doesn't really want his son to learn the ways of the Americans. And even if he did, they're not going to teach him how to make a living. They're just going to say, turn yourself into a farmer by your own efforts.


Or become an alcoholic.


Right. So actually, yet again, he has lied to. He is told you're going to go to the standing rock agency. You'll be treated like any other Indians. That doesn't happen at all.




They put him on a steamboat on.


The general Sherman, isn't it, to rub salt in the wound.


Yeah, the general Sherman steamboat. And they take him off to Fort Randall, 350 miles further south, and he's a prisoner of war. And there he just rots. It's there that there are some famous pictograms, basically illustrations drawn by sitting bull, because he was given sort of crayons and pieces of paper. And he always drew the same thing, pictures of battles and great fights and all this sort of thing and buffalo hunts and.


Do you know what I mean? They lose, but they had won that great battle. And there's an amazing statistic that the estimate is that during the entirety of the indian wars fought by the United States army, the government spent about a million dollars to kill each Indian.




I mean, that is a very, very expensive war.




In which there was never any doubt as to who was going to lose, but they put up a good, good fight.


Yeah. Sad, isn't it? Anyway, sorry, we're getting quite maudlin in this podcast, Tom.


No, I don't think so. I think we are celebrating what is extraordinary about this story and the qualities of courage on both sides and trying to perhaps emphasize that rather than the horror and the treachery and the squalor of it.


Okay, so he's been in Fort Randall two years doing nothing. And then in 1883, it suddenly looks like things are looking up because he gets the news that he's going to be released. He never knows why. He doesn't know why he was a prisoner. He doesn't know why they've suddenly decided to release him. But he's going to go back. He can go to standing rock and start a new life. Sitting ball. And a steamboat arrives to pick him up. The steamboat is called the WJ bean. And unbelievably, the guy who was piloting the steamboat is the same guy who had piloted the steamboat that General Terry had had his fine wines on before the battle of the little bighorn. City Bull gets on this boat, and up they go, up the Missouri, and every stop there are people who are desperate to see Cityball. He's a complete celebrity, and he's kind of saying hello.


You bet.




The only things he can say, and.


He'S signing his autograph. Yes, he has this incredibly valuable autograph. So people can't wait. He can sign his own name now. So he's signing his autograph. People are very excited. They pay for it. So he's got lots of money. And finally, in May 1883, he arrives at the Standing Rock reservation. So is this the promised land? Is this the end of his troubles? We will find out, Tom, in the next devastating episode.


So that will be coming out very soon if you're a regular listener. But if you can't wait, you know the drill. The rest is you can get it there immediately. But either way, we still have a way to go on this terrible story.


The ghost dance, the massacre of wounded knee. Some of the most extraordinary things, actually, we've ever done.


Buffalo Bill.


Yeah, Buffalo Bill. Lots to come. So we'll see you then. Bye.