Summary and Analysis
Chapter 11 - The Killing of Crazy Horse
Black Elk and his father head out of Red Cloud Agency to go to Spotted Tail's camp, but Red Cloud's people overtake them, who tell them to go back. Black Elk learns later that Crazy Horse had sent them away, thinking they would be safer because he knew trouble was ahead. The rumor is spreading that Crazy Horse is going to war again, but Black Elk knows he has no ammunition and believes that the Wasichus (whites) have spread the rumor. Crazy Horse will not cooperate with the whites; he will not allow himself to become assimilated. He refuses to go to Washington, D.C. with the whites and some other Indians for a show of conciliation.
Soldiers bring Crazy Horse into Fort Robinson (Soldiers' Town) with the understanding that he will not be harmed if he will simply come and talk to the Wasichu chief, but the soldiers lied. Black Elk later learns that he was imprisoned. When he tries to fight his way out with a knife, he is stabbed with a bayonet and dies. There is much mourning; Black Elk and his father cry all night. In the morning, Crazy Horse's father and mother come and put his body in a box and carry it away on horseback. No one knows where he is buried.
Crazy Horse refused to recognize the authority of the whites' Great Father, saying that his only father was the Great Spirit. He was a warrior and, unlike Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, he refused to acquiesce in the federal program for managing the Indians. He would not give up his identity to become a docile person living in a house on a reservation. Crazy Horse's death is a tragedy for the Oglala Sioux, for whom he was an inspiring leader, and a discredit to the U.S. Government, which was systematically eliminating all troublesome Indians. Crazy Horse remains a legendary figure in the history of the American West.