This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
With little doubt, the fiercest warriors in the western United States and Indian wars
were the Sioux of the northern midwest. They were held in awe by the United States
Calvary and even more so by other Indian Tribes. General Frederic W. !enteen called the
Sioux "#ood shots, #ood riders, and the best fi#hters the sun ever shone on." $lthou#h
terrori%in# to the Whites, their horse&stealin# and warrin# destroyed many other Indian
Tribes. So dreadful were the Sioux that the 'andans, (ees, and )idata Indians all
a**ealed to the #overnment for *rotection. The Whites were these tribe+s enemies, but
they were not to be feared nearly so much as the Sioux.
It is difficult for us to understand the Indian mentality. ,eo*le in our culture loo
toward the future as a line of continuous *ro#ress. We believe new technolo#ical miracles
will occur and, *erha*s wishfully, that life will #et better and better. To the Sioux, the future
was not looed at in terms of material *ro#ress. The Sioux believed they would continue to
live in the same manner, usin# the same methods as their ancestors. 'aterial life was a
#ift of Waan Tana, the Great S*irit, and was not de*endent on how industrious and
*ro#ressive they were.
The domain of *ersonal achievement for the Sioux was either in war or in ma#ic.
These two areas overla**ed, and to be a #reat warrior one must also be wakan or
s*iritually *owerful. War was not carried on so much to eliminate an enemy, as we do, but
as an arena in which #reatness could be achieved. $ warrior mi#ht carry a harmless "cou*
stic" with which he would strie an enemy warrior and "count cou*". 'eticulous count was
e*t on cou*s, and it was more *resti#ious to count first cou* on a warrior than to latter
actually ill him. The #reatest warriors of the tribes were those that had counted cou*
under the most dan#erous situations. Cra%y )orse, )i#h Crane, White !ull and others
were nown to char#e throu#h enemy war *arties armed with nothin# but a cou* stic.
They de*ended on their ma#ical charms to *rotect them.
-early all #reat Sioux warriors de*ended on ma#ical charms or *re&battle rituals. The
'innicon.ous Sioux )i#h Crane wore the sin of a blac&tailed deer into battle to mae him
bullet&*roof. )e wore the bac sin on his bac and tied the fore and hind le# sins to his
arms and le#s. The horns he tied with a red beaded strin# to his head. In the Fall of /012
Sittin# !ull and his Sioux came u*on soldiers at Slim !uttes, 'ontana. The soldiers were
standin# in rows with their rifles and looed "lie *ine trees" they were so thic. Sittin# !ull
cried out, "!e careful now. These men are crac shots. 3et )i#h Crane #o to them."
Sittin# !ull and his men were about two hundred yards from the four hundred
soldiers. )i#h Crane went char#in# toward the soldiers and raced his horse bac and forth
in front of the lines. )undreds of shots were fired but he could not be hit. This so awed the
soldiers that they retreated. If one Sioux could not be hit at close ran#e, how could they
ex*ect to fi#ht a whole tribe4 The Sioux looed at their ma#ical charms *erha*s much as
we loo at a newly&devised secret wea*on today.
This may seem too im*robable to be true, but !lavatsy in her Isis Unveiled 56ol. I,
**. 710&89 *rovides an occult ex*lanation and another exam*le. "The astral fluid can be
com*ressed about a *erson so as to form an elastic shell, absolutely non&*enetrable by
any *hysical ob.ect, however #reat the velocity with which it travels. ...In India, 'alabar,
and some *laces of Central $frica, the con.urers will freely *ermit any traveler to fire his
muset or revolver at them, without touchin# the wea*on themselves or selectin# the balls.
In 3ain#+s Travels in Timmanriee, Kooranko and Soolima Countries, occurs a descri*tion
by an :n#lish traveler, the first white man to visit the tribe of the Soolimas, near the
sources of the ;ialliba, of a very curious scene. $ body of *iced soldiers fired u*on a
chief who had nothin# to defend himself with but certain talismans. $lthou#h their musets
were *ro*erly loaded and aimed, not a ball could strie him. Salverte #ives a similar case
in his Philosophy of Magic< "In /=20 the ,rince of >ran#e condemned a S*anish *risoner
to be shot at ?uliers. The soldiers tied him to a tree and fired, but he was invulnerable. The
soldiers therefore stri**ed him, to see what armor he wore, but they found only an
amulet. . . . This was taen from him, and death followed the first shot aimed at him."
Those manic on dru#s or alcohol may sometimes even *roduce this effect about them. >n
a "Co*s" show on T6 not too lon# a#o, a man hy*er&active on dru#s .um*ed out of a
buildin# 7@ or A@ feet above #round and then #ot u* and ran away.
The Sioux *laced #reat im*ortance on dreams. $n Indian+s whole life mi#ht be lived so
as to fulfill a dream. $ medicine man usually chose his *ath because he had been directed
to do so in a dream. Tribes often made *lans and followed a course of action based on
dreams received by their leaders. :laborate and arduous rituals such as the Sun ;ance
were undertaen to receive a *ro*hetic vision. 'any warriors underwent "lamentin#" to
receive insi#ht. The Sioux !lac :l described lamentin# as "cryin# for a vision" and said it
usually consisted of #oin# into the wilderness alone for several days of *rayin# and ritual
to Waan Tana.
When he was only thirteen or fourteen, the #reat Sioux Warrior Cra%y )orse
undertoo to have such a vision. )e went off into the mountains to fast and *ray without
tellin# anyone. Constantly *rayin# to Waan Tana, he did not slee* at ni#ht but e*t
himself awae by lyin# on shar* stones. )e received no vision after two days and decided
to #ive u*, feelin# he must be unworthy. >n his way to find his horse he fainted and had a
very *owerful dream.
"$ man on horsebac rode out of the lae. The horse e*t chan#in# colors, and it
floated above the #round, so li#ht was it, the man too, who sat well forward on the horse.
)e wore *lain le##in#s and a sim*le shirt. )is face was un*ainted and he had only a
sin#le feather in his lon# brown hair. )e had a small brown stone tied behind his ear. )e
did not seem to s*ea, but Cra%y )orse heard him none the less.
"The man told Cra%y )orse never to wear a war bonnet, nor to tie u* his horse+s tail
5it was the Sioux custom to tie u* their *onies+ tails in a not9, because the horse needed
his tail when he .um*ed a stream and in summer time to brush flies. )e said that before
#oin# into battle Cra%y )orse should *ass some dust over his horse in lines and streas,
but should not *aint the *ony. $nd he should rub some of the dirt over his own hair and
body. Then he would never be illed by a bullet or by an enemy. !ut he should never tae
anythin# for himself.
"$ll the while the man and horse were floatin#, brushin# aside constant attacs from
a shadowy enemy. !ut he rode strai#ht throu#h them, strai#ht throu#h the flyin# arrows
and lead balls, which always disa**eared before striin# their tar#et. Several times the
man and horse were held bac, it seemed by his own *eo*le comin# u* from behind and
catchin# his arms, but he shoo them off and rode on. $ storm came u* and on the man+s
chee a little %i#%a# of li#htnin# a**eared and a few hail s*ots on his body. Then the storm
*assed, and the man+s *eo*le closed in around him, #rabbin# and *ullin#, while overhead
a haw screamed. Then the dream faded and Cra%y )orse was awae."
Cra%y )orse was once wounded in battle .ust as he be#an to tae a scal*. $s his
dream warned him never to tae anythin# for himself, he never a#ain too scal*s. !efore
every battle he always *re*ared himself in the same way, and always dressed as the
warrior was dressed in his vision. )e wore a small stone behind his ear, and another stone
on a strin# under his arm. )e *ainted a %i#%a# line of red earth from his forehead to his
chin. )e *ainted s*ots on himself to re*resent hail and s*rinled dust on his horse. )e
undoubtedly was a terrifyin# si#ht.
$lon# with the #reat warrior (oman -ose, Cra%y )orse also *racticed "no&woman
medicine" which was a vow of celibacy. Sioux Warriors were *roud of their ability to
channel their sexual ener#ies into war and it was Sioux custom to be abstinent four or five
days before battle. The most serious in.ury Cra%y )orse ever incurred was within a day
after he broe his no&woman medicine with !lac !uffalo Woman. Cra%y )orse was shot
in the .aw by !lac !uffalo Woman+s an#ry husband. 5In Sioux society there were no
marria#e vows and a woman was free to chan#e husbands and live with whom she
*leased. So technically Cra%y )orse was in the ri#ht.9
-o war *arty Cra%y )orse led was ever defeated in battle in over twenty years of
fi#htin# a#ainst Soldiers and Indians. )e would sin#le&handedly char#e columns of Crows,
$ra*ahoes or Whites and ride amon# them tain# cou*s. )e had ei#ht horses shot from
beneath him and often found himself tain# foot bac to his own lines. While his Sioux
were never defeated in battle, they were still bein# slowly starved to death by the soldiers.
The hu#e buffalo herds were bein# illed off by the Whites and Sioux huntin# lands were
continually shrinin#. In 'ay, /011 Cra%y )orse was forced to surrender his *eo*le at
Cam* (obinson, South ;aota. )e was *romised #ood treatment, but the army could not
stomach a free Cra%y )orse. $n order for his arrest and im*risonment came four months
later. When Cra%y )orse reali%ed he was bein# led to a cell, he broe loose from the
soldiers and #rabbed a nife he+d e*t concealed. It was too late, however, and two of his
own Sioux #rabbed his arms as he was bayoneted in the side by a soldier. True to his
vision, he was never defeated in battle, but illed as his own *eo*le held his arms. $ haw
screamed overhead as the #reat Cra%y )orse died.
The Sioux )i#h !lac Wolf believed he was bullet&*roof unless he *ut metal in his
mouth on the day of a battle. )e was illed in battle moments after he mistaenly *ut a
bullet in his mouth while reloadin# his six&shooter. :vidence indicates that the Sioux+s
charms actually did wor, and when a charm or vow was broen, the warrior lost his
*rotection. The charms themselves, *erha*s, were not the im*ortant thin#, but that they
enabled the warrior to enter a certain state of mind. Cra%y )orse was nearly illed when he
broe his no&woman vow with !lac !uffalo Woman and wounded when he broe his vow
by tain# a scal*. The only #reat Sioux that was not nown to de*end on charms was
Sittin# !ull, and it is said he #ained his *ower from the many Sun ;ances he went
throu#h. )e must not have followed Cra%y )orse+s total no&woman vow, as he had nine
wives durin# his life.
Sittin# !ull would freBuently mae a vow to Waan Tana to do a Sun ;ance if some
endeavor of his or the tribe+s was successful. In the fall of /01= he made a vow to do a
Sun ;ance if he was successful in some horse stealin# from the Slota Indians. In the
summer of +12 he made #ood on his vow by sacrificin# one hundred *ieces of flesh to
Waan Tana. ?um*in# !ull a#reed to do the cuttin# and too fifty *ieces of flesh from
each of Sittin# !ull+s arms with a nife *oint. Sittin# !ull then danced and stared at the sun
for the next day and a half until he *assed out. When he *assed out, he had a vision. In
the vision he saw White soldiers fallin# from the sy into the Sioux cam* and heard a voice
say "I #ive you these because they have no ears." & meanin# that the Whites did not listen
to Waan Taan, *erha*s, or that they did not have any s*irituality.
Sittin# !ull+s vision occurred in ?une of /012. )e told his Sioux that soon they would
be victorious in battle, but that they must not tae any White scal*s or *ossessions. Two
wees later Custer+s two hundred men attaced Sittin# !ull+s cam* on the 3ittle !i# )orn
and were totally wi*ed out. (en+s one hundred seventy&five men were also nearly
destroyed in this battle. The Sioux *lundered and stri**ed the soldiers+ bodies. Sittin# !ull
told them< "!ecause you have taen the s*oils, henceforth you will covet the white man+s
#oods, you will be at his mercy, you will starve at his hands. The soldiers will crush you."
The most ama%in# feat was *erformed by Sittin# !ull in the summer of /01C. In late
summer Sittin# !ull had a number of sirmishes with Colonel ;.S. Stanley and his troo*s,
who were #uardin# the -orthern ,acific (ailroad. Sittin# !ull was A/ years old at this time,
and some of the youn# warriors were comin# to Buestion his authority. Cra%y )orse was in
on this fi#ht, and was only carryin# a lance. They met with the soldiers in the valley of the
Dellowstone, below $rrow 5>+Fallen9 Cree. Immediately the soldiers came out to fi#ht. For
some time the youn# warriors dashed bac and forth across the lines, darin# the soldiers
to hit them. Some were illed.
Sittin# !ull was weary of the fi#htin#. To him it was ".ust shootin#" with the same
stunts bein# *ulled by the youn# warriors as he had always seen in his twenty&seven years
on the war&*ath. The youn# Sioux were sayin# that Sittin# !ull was #ettin# "mouthy". )e
was always free and fran with his advice and some of the youn# were resentin# it. Soon
they would be sayin# he was a has&been or even a coward. )e decided to do somethin#
different that would *ut the Buestion of his bravery and *ower at rest forever.
Sittin# !ull *ut down his #un and Buiver, too his tobacco *ouch and *i*e and be#an
walin# toward the firin# soldiers. !ullets iced the #round all about him. )e e*t walin#
toward the soldiers as if out tain# a *eaceful stroll. $bout a hundred yards in front of the
Indians, he sat down and be#an fillin# his *i*e with tobacco. )e #ot out his flint and steel
and lit the *i*e. $fter a few Buiet *uffs, he turned bac to his astonished men and said
"$ny Indians who wish to smoe with me, come on4"
)is ne*hew White !ull could not turn down a dare, so he came runnin# out, as did
the Sioux Gets&The&!est&>f&Them and two Cheyennes. They *assed the *i*e from ri#ht to
left, as always. In an interview in the /8C@+s White !ull related how "We others wasted no
time. >ur hearts beat ra*idly, and we smoed as fast as we could. $ll around us the bullets
were icin# u* the dust, and we could hear bullets whinin# overhead. !ut Sittin# !ull was
not afraid. )e .ust sat there Buietly, looin# around as if he were at home in his tent, and
$fter the *i*e was smoed out, Sittin# !ull #ot out the little shar* stic he used for
cleanin# his *i*e, cleaned the ashes and *ut everythin# bac in his tobacco ba#. )e #ot
u* slowly and sauntered bac while White !ull and the others raced bac to the Sioux
lines. Sittin# !ull #ot on his horse and said "That+s enou#h4" and all the Indians rode off.
5/9 Sitting Bull Champion of the Siou!, Stanley 6estal, )ou#hton 'ifflin Co., -ew Dor,
/87C, 7=@ **.
5C9 Cra"y #orse and Custer, Ste*hen :. $mbrose, ;oubleday F Co., Garden City, -ew
Dor, /81=, A02 **.
579 The Sacred Pipe, ?ose*h !rown and !lac :l, University of >lahoma ,ress, /8=7,
5A9 $eath of the %reat Spirit, :arl Shorris, Simon and Schuster, -ew Dor, /81/, C=7 **.
5=9 &ife, ?uly C, /81/
529 Isis Unveiled, ).,. !lavatsy, U.3.T. edition
& ,roto#onos, -o. /0
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.