Crazy Horse and General George Armstrong Custer- a Comparison of Two Leaders
Crazy Horse and General George Armstrong Custer are two figures which the readers easily spotlight in the message Frazier and Neihardt gave us in their books. They were real people, unique fighters and leaders of their armies, who about one hundred fifty years ago left the world with a great trace of their thoughts and heroic deeds. Many people still remember and admire them today.
The central figure in both Frazier’s and Neihardt’s works is Crazy Horse, who is a member of the Sioux Indian tribe. He held no high ranking position in the tribe. Even though he did not have any official titles in the tribe, he was much respected.
First of all, Crazy Horse was an incredible warrior; he was so fast and accurate, that he used to kill his enemies before they could see him. Neihardt states, “they [white people] could not kill him in the battle” (109), and furthermore, he never lost any battles. On the other hand, as Frazier notes, Crazy Horse was admired by his natives for being “a lover of peace” (117). Crazy Horse never fought against others with the aim to
get advantage, to expand the land of his natives or get any recourses. He always fought for the protection of his countrymen.
Secondly, Crazy Horse was a great patriot, not only of his native land and Native Americans, but also of his beliefs and outlook towards the world. He not only felt responsibility to protect his nation and risk his life in the fights with white people, he not only refused to eat and starved when his countrymen did not have enough food, he not only, as Frazier believes, “made sure that his wife was safe before going to where he expected to die” (118) demonstrating his concern for others at the expense of himself, but also never lied to anyone, never betrayed his own beliefs, even when it was obvious that he was going to die for them (Crazy Horse was trying to escape when he found out that he was going to be imprisoned), never, as Frazier adds, “ met the President”, “rode on a train”, “slept in a boardinghouse”, “wore a medal or a top hat or any other thing that white men gave him”(118)- never cared about the values of white people, never elevated gold and land above his creed; never recognized the culture of white people and managed to live on faithfulness to his national traditions.
Thirdly, Crazy Horse was a mysterious person. When Indians were pushed north, where they faced cold and famine, and some started to surrender to white people, Crazy Horse started to behave strangely, in fact, he began to walk alone outside the camp, not eating anything and not greeting others… Because he was able to predict the future, “he was afraid something would happen” (Frazier 109) and “he had seen that he would soon be dead”(Neihardt 104).
The final and perhaps the most important reason why Crazy Horse was respected by other Indians was that he always was a free man. First, he was always free to say what he was thinking. He never lied in contrast to white people and some Indians, who joined
the white people. In addition, he sometimes used irony to sneer at white people: “My Father is with me, and there is no Great Father between me and the Great Spirit”(Neihardt 108),- he diplomatically refused to go to Washington with Red Cloud and Spotted Tail. According to Frazier, Crazy Horse was “so free that he did not know what a jail looked like” (117). It is more than likely that Frazier have intended to say that Crazy Horse was never jailed physically or trapped by the routine of white people, emptiness and degradation of white European culture.
To add, Crazy Horse was respected by white people as well. When he went to Red Cloud Agency, Wachitus (white people) were visiting him and showing the respect by bringing money and presents.
Frazier and Neihardt saw Crazy Horse as an idealized leader of his nation. Any information about his decisions or behavior, which would show him from negative side, any mistakes hardly can be found about Crazy Horse in their books. Frazier even named him as “a kind of Sioux Christ” (117). But perhaps they could not help idealizing him, because Crazy Horse and the nation he represented were so different from new Americans. Perhaps it was the only way readers would compare the ideals and cultures of Crazy Horse and their own nations and generations.
Most likely the readers of “Black Elk Speaks” and “Great Plains” can find a lot of similarities of the culture of our days and the culture represented by the General Custer, who is the other central figure of the works of Frazier and Neihardt.
First, Custer was an irresponsible person like most of Wachitus were. He was irresponsible at United State Military Academy, where he did not succeed with his