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Susan Bordeau Bettelyoun On
An American woman's view of Crazy Horse...
THE SUSAN BORDEAUX BETTELYOUN NARRATIVE
CRAZY HORSE, OR TA'SUNKE WITKO
I was living at Camp Robinson in 1876, when several chiefs and their bands, about two hundred in number, were to be sent out to get Crazy Horse. They were ordered to make a peace treaty and to get his consent to a surrender. White Thunder, Spotted Tail, Swift Bear, Black Crow, High Bear, Touch the Cloud, Good Voice, Horned Antelope and many others were in this peace envoy. When they started in December, 1876, winter had already set in severe[ly]; the snow was bad. Spotted Tail and Swift Bear turned into the Black Hills to hunt with their bands; so they were left behind and never did reach Crazy Horse's camp to talk with him. White Thunder, Touch [the] Cloud, Good Voice, High Bear, Black Crow and others went on with the interpreters, Bushay, Tom Dorian and Chas. Tackett, my first husband.
Now, Touch [the] Cloud [Touch The Clouds] and Crazy Horse were great friends. After the pipe of peace was accepted by Crazy Horse, it settled the matter. He, by smoking with the envoy, was at peace for once and forever. The peace pipe was considered such a sacred pact that no one ever broke its law. If they did, they came to grief, brought on by their own untruthfulness, for breaking the law of truth. All that was unclean was never practiced with the peace pipe. The white people, [having] little understanding [of] the power of the pipe as something sacred and holy, doubted the veracity of the peace made with the peace pipe. It is often laughed and jested about by them. The peace pipe, like the white man's sacrament, was a symbol of truth and inward grace. Its laws were spiritual and not to be desecrated.
When Crazy Horse listened to the promises and words of peace, he had set aside all animosity -- he had given up fighting as all the rest of his people had done. He knew he and his little handful of followers would not win. It was not because they lacked courage and bravery; they also knew they were in the right and had a just cause. He knew he was outnumbered by the millions. These people were intelligent human beings, who had the mind to think and to act according to their own interests. They did not want to supinely lay down and be trampled over by another race. For years they had been fighting for their territory and had won it from other tribes who were in possession [of it] in the days when bow and arrows were used. Now it was guns and gun powder, and these had to be gotten from the white man.
Swift Bear['s] and Spotted Tail's band came back from the Black Hills in the spring when the snow went away. They had been living good in the Hills on elk, bear and deer meat, for in those days there was plenty. The peace envoy returned the first part of May, and two weeks later Crazy Horse came in with his band, consisting of about five hundred souls. They were poor and destitute from having to give up their lodges and camp equipage so many times to the soldiers [by whom they had been attacked].
I have been told many times about how they had to maneuver to escape contact with the pursuing army. At times they had to follow the streams to hide their trails. Other times they put their lodge poles across the backs of two horses so as not to leave any trail, for it was the camp they [the soldiers] wanted to capture.
All through the summer, Crazy Horse's camp was perfectly contended and satisfied. They were well treated and received rations from Agent [ James J.] Saville, who was there at that time. Wooden Knife's band had been with Crazy Horse. His camp was [on the river] below, at Camp Sheridan, [and] not very far.
My husband, Chas. Tackett, was a scout, but when he was not on duty, he clerked in Jewett's store, and [he] had waited on Crazy Horse. My mother-in-law and I drove up to the store one day when Crazy Horse was there; she pointed him out to me. He was a very handsome young man of about thirty-six years or so. He was not so dark; he had hazel eyes, [and] nice, long light-brown hair; his scalp lock was ornamented with beads and hung clear to his waist; his braids were wrapped in fur. He was partly wrapped in a broad-cloth blanket; his leggings were also [of] navy-blue broad-cloth, [and] his moccasins were beaded. He was above the medium height and was slender.
He had two wives. His oldest wife that he had lived with for ten or twelve years was the sister of Red Feather, who was a very noted man at that time. The last wife, a concubine to the elder wife, was a half-breed woman, her last name being Larrave [Helen " Nellie" Laravie]. It was this last woman who took sick and had to be taken to Spotted Tail Agency. At Spotted Tail there lived a medicine man who could cure ailments. To this place Crazy Horse went, not thinking there would be any trouble.
When Scout Frank Grouard knew that Crazy Horse had come in, he left Camp Robinson and went to Camp Sheridan to take refuge there under General [Lt. Jesse M.] Lee. He knew he had done treachery and he feared for his life, though no one had said anything. He gave false interpretations and was lying to the officers who questioned him in regard to Crazy Horse. He wanted to see Crazy Horse put out of the way so he could be free from the fear of losing his life. He succeeded, and it was found out too late.
When Major [Lt. William P.] Clark asked Crazy Horse if he would fight the white people any longer, he replied he would not -- that he was through. Frank told Major Clark and the staff of officers just the opposite. Touch the Cloud reprimanded Frank Grouard about this and called him a liar. Everyone knew that Spotted Tail and Red Cloud were jealous of Crazy Horse and wished him out of the way.
When Crazy Horse was taken to the garrison to make a speech, he did not have much to say; he only told the people [that] if they were going to smoke the peace pipe [they were] not to break the laws, but [to] carry it out according to the sacred traditions. Spotted Tail then made a speech. After this came to pass, Crazy Horse was led to the guardhouse. At the guardhouse, Turning Bear stopped to tell Crazy Horse that it was a guardhouse to which they were leading him. The guard, with his bayonet, stabbed him through the side in a downward glance-through his left kidney, downward to the right groin. Little Big Man, a scout, struggled with Crazy Horse, which made matters worse.
The body was given back to the old parents. They sat on the hill opposite the garrison [at Spotted Tail Agency] for two or three days. When the orders came from the [Interior] Department to move the Indians to the Ponca Agency [on the Missouri] so annuities could be issued to them, the journey was started. The soldier escort went first, and the Indians in their travoys and the half-breed families in their wagons followed. Stops were made every ten miles. It took about a month to reach Ponca Agency. It was getting cold then. Crazy Horse's body was carried on a travoy till a certain butte was reached. Crazy Horse's niece, Mrs. De Noyer, told me he was laid [to rest] in the cliffs under the ledges of Eagle Nest Butte. The old father and mother came with the rest of our people back to Rosebud in the spring [of 1878]. They lived with the Salt Users, who camped two miles northwest from the [Spotted Tail] Agency. Here the old mother died in two years after Crazy Horse's death, and Old Man Crazy Horse died three years after his son's death." They were both buried there, along the banks of the Rosebud. It has been said that the bones of Crazy Horse were brought back and buried beside his parents.
After Crazy Horse was wounded, he lived till after midnight. My brother, Louis Bordeaux, stayed with him all night and made hourly reports to General Jesse Lee. The old parents were also allowed to stay with him till he died in the morning, when the roosters were crowing at 1 o'clock.
Crazy Horse was resigned to his fate. He was a warrior and had expected to die in battle sooner or later. He saw the littleness, the jealousy, and the aspirations ofpersonal aggrandizement of the chiefs, especially Spotted Tail and Red Cloud whom he thought were easily bought, and from whom he had expected more...
With My Own Eyes : A Lakota Woman Tells Her People's History, by by Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun, Josephine Waggoner and Emily Levine, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1998 p 107 - 110
Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun was the granddaughter of Sioux Winter Count keeper Lone Dog, the daughter of French-American trader James Bordeax, the sister of Louis Bordeaux, and the aunt of William J. Bordeax.
She encountered Crazy Horse shopping at the Spotted Tail Indian Agency Store run by George Jewett in July 1877, during the brief period between Crazy Horse's surrender and his murder by the U.S. Army.
The comment about Crazy Horse's beaded scalp lock is quoted from Kingley M. Bray's Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life, page 65. This phrase is omitted from the University of Nebraska's 1998 edition of Susan Bordeax Bettelyoun's With My Own Eyes.
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