ON THE CRAZY HORSE GENEALOGY: PART 1
KINGSLEY M. BRAY
posting my notes on the genealogy of Crazy Horse to supplement
Carl Dupree's important contribution and to further the
discussion. This is a work in progress, and I continue
to update the information. —
Kingsley Bray, 8th February 2006.
Horse: the Miniconjou Connection
Horse’s Mother, Rattle Blanket Woman
of the more detailed accounts of Crazy Horse's family
background, coming from informed individuals, relatives
and contemporaries, state that Crazy Horse's mother was
a Miniconjou, e.g.
Horn Chips, interviewed by Judge Eli S. Ricker, February
14, 1907 (Ricker Papers, NSHS, Tablet 18): "Crazy
Horse's mother was a Minneconjou, but Chips does not know
He Dog statement, through Joseph Eagle Hawk, in Robert
A. Clark, ed., The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse, p. 68:
"His mother was a Minikowoju Sioux."
William Garnett to V. T. McGillycuddy, March 6, 1922 (in
ibid, p. 109): "his mother was a Minni-ko-wo-jun";
reiterated in same to same, April 21, 1926 (ibid, p. 115):
"his mother was a Mni-Ko-Wo-Ju", adding that:
"I think he [Touch the Clouds, Miniconjou chief]
was a relative of the mother of Crazy Horse, but I have
been unable to find any one who knows for sure."
[Robert A. Clark, ed. The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse,
Eagle Horse, a granddaughter of this woman (the daughter
of Crazy Horse's sister), gave her grandmother's name
as Rattle Blanket Woman [Walter M. Camp MSS, University
of Indiana Library, p. 271]. Unfortunately, Mrs Eagle
Horse (or Camp) confused matters by stating that Rattle
Blanket Woman was an Oglala.
Modern Lakota informants agree that Crazy Horse's mother
was a Miniconjou, coming from a prominent family. They
confirm Mrs Eagle Horse’s statement that the mother was
named Rattle Blanket Woman, Ta-sina Hlahla Win. Miniconjou
elders concur, stating (to Chris Ravenshead) that the
woman committed suicide, and adding that previous generations
had been unwilling to discuss the family tragedy. Victor
Douville, Lakota Studies Dept, Sinte Gleska University,
stated (conversation with author) that Rattle Blanket
Woman was a Miniconjou, belonging to the Aske band. Elaine
Quiver, descended from a sister of Rattle Blanket Woman,
stated (conversation with the author) that Rattle Blanket
Woman’s family was Miniconjou. Ellen In the Woods (statement
made for Jack Meister) stated that Rattle Blanket Woman
was a Miniconjou.
According to genealogical information obtained in 1986,
Rattle Blanket Woman's parents were Runs After Enemy
and White Water (Under Water) [Woman]. This same information
reported two full sisters of Rattle Blanket Woman, Looks
At Her and Good Looking Woman, also identifying these
women's husbands and details on descendants. [Lakota
Times, November 19, 1986.] Elaine Quiver has confirmed
to me the details of this genealogy. More recently,
statements made in connection with the Clown family
legal claim have asserted that Rattle Blanket Woman
and the above named sisters were daughters of Black
Bull (Black Buffalo), 1760-1815, who was a chief met
by Lewis & Clark and recognized by them as the principal
chief of the Sicangu Lakota. Other children of Black
Bull included One Horn (painted by Catlin in 1832; killed
by a buffalo bull in 1835), and Lone Horn (the Miniconjou
principal chief, died 1875/6), according to this account.
Blanket Woman certainly belonged to an extensive and well-connected
family. We can adduce further evidence to identify more
of her 'brothers' and 'sisters' - always with the rider
that these kinship terms may reflect relationships that
Euro-Americans recognize as cousins or even more distant
blood and affinal relations. In some cases, such terms
may refer to ceremonial 'fictive' relationships like the
ritual adoptive status of hunka.
One Miniconjou relative of Crazy Horse's was certainly
Touch the Clouds (ca. 1836-1905), son of the tribal head
chief Lone Horn II (ca. 1814-76). According to Charles
Eastman, Touch the Clouds and Crazy Horse were cousins
[Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, p. 104]. This has
led to speculation that Rattle Blanket Woman was a kinswoman
of Lone Horn. The scenario propounded above, whereby Rattle
Blanket Woman and Lone Horn were full-brother and sister,
would dovetail with such speculation. On the other hand,
Elaine Quiver (statements to KMB and Jack Meister, November
2001) stated that Rattle Blanket Woman and the mother
(rather than father) of Touch the Clouds (i.e. the wife
of Lone Horn) were related, perhaps as cousins. Given
Lakota prescriptions against marrying kin, these two explanations
seem mutually exclusive. Although it does not clear up
the confusion entirely, we have a statement from the Touch
the Clouds’ family that confirms a very close relationship
to Crazy Horse. According to an affidavit statement (in
South Dakota Historical Society) by Touch the Clouds'
son, Amos Charging First, Touch the Clouds addressed Crazy
Horse as his "brother", consistent in the kinship
scheme with a relationship through either his father's
brother or his mother's sister.
seems to be no unequivocal contemporary document that
explicitly identifies Crazy Horse’s mother as a Miniconjou.
However, since even rudimentary census counts of Lakota
bands did not begin until thirty years after Rattle Blanket
Woman’s tragic death, this is not surprising. She died
too early to be named on allotment records, introduced
in the early 20th Century, which routinely identified
the allotee’s parents.
I am confident that, while further research may clarify
the confusing details of family links, Crazy Horse’s mother
was a Miniconjou. She was Rattle Blanket Woman, born about
1814, and married to Crazy Horse’s father Worm about 1836.
She bore a daughter, who seems to have been named Looks
At Her (presumably after her aunt; in the Lakota kinship
scheme another mother), in ca. 1837; and then bore her
famous son Crazy Horse (known in childhood as Curly Hair)
in the early fall of 1840. She and her husband, however,
fell into marital difficulties. Deeply unhappy, Rattle
Blanket Woman hanged herself at the end of 1844. This
left profound emotional scars on her four-year old son.
Rattle Blanket Woman and the Miniconjou-Oyuhkpe
of the major Oglala bands of the 19th Century was the
Oyuhkpe, which settled on Pine Ridge Reservation in the
Wounded Knee District. In the 19th Century its great leaders
included such chiefs as Tobacco, White Plume, Black Fox,
the latter’s son Kicking Bear, and Big Road – in every
case men with strong links to the Northern Lakota divisions.
The band has always had very strong Miniconjou connections.
It is my belief that the Oyuhkpe band actually was part
of the Miniconjou oyate for much of the period 1760-1830.
Subsequently they shifted back to the Oglala circle, but
continued to maintain very strong Northern Lakota links
– especially Miniconjou, but also to the Itazipco and
Hunkpapa – until the reservation system terminated the
old migratory way of life. Crazy Horse had very strong
ties to this band – indeed an agency document from 1874
states that he was an Oyuhkpe. One Oyuhkpe sub-band was
known as the Wakan or Sacred band (it may be the outfit
to which Kicking Bear’s family belonged). My reconstruction
of early Lakota history suggests that this was a very
conservative band, with strong links to the Calf Pipe
Keepers; sister tiyospaye existed among the Itazipco and
Hunkpapa. Crazy Horse had an intimate connection to this
tiyospaye. When he married in 1870, it was an Oyuhkpe
woman (Black Shawl) from the Big Road tiyospaye that he
took as wife.
Two statements explicitly identify links between Rattle
Blanket Woman’s family and Oyuhkpe band members. One statement
identifies a 'sister' of Rattle Blanket Woman. The mother
of the Oglala war-leader Kicking Bear, prominent in the
Ghost Dance of 1890, is said by descendants to have been
the sister of Crazy Horse's mother (David Humphreys Miller,
Ghost Dance, 288). This woman was called Iron Cedar Woman,
a name we shall see recurring in the genealogy. Probably
born about the early 1820's, Iron Cedar Woman became the
younger or second wife of Black Fox (aka Cut Forehead),
a headman in the Oglala Oyuhkpe band. Her five children
included Kicking Bear (born about 1846), Flying Hawk (born
1852), and Black Fox II. All of these sons were close
comrades of Crazy Horse in their adult life. As sons of
a woman Crazy Horse would have addressed as 'mother',
they would have been classified in the Lakota kinship
scheme as his 'younger brothers', or sunka. Conversely,
they would have addressed Crazy Horse as ciye, or 'elder
brother'. (Iron Cedar Woman's husband fathered a further
eight children by his first wife.)
Another close female relative of Rattle Blanket Woman
can be adduced from the memories of Eagle Elk. Like Kicking
Bear, Eagle Elk was born into the Oyuhkpe band. Crazy
Horse, stated Eagle Elk, "chose to call me 'cousin'
[tahansi] from the marriage of his mother." Defining
the relationship more closely, Eagle Elk stated that:
"My father married Crazy Horse's aunt." (Eagle
Elk and Crazy Horse were also related through their fathers,
who were themselves "cousins".) A distinction
is here evident which suggests that Rattle Blanket Woman
and Eagle Elk's mother, Good Plume, were cousins (sicepansi)
rather than full sisters. Good Plume's family was "from
near Sisseton", suggesting antecedents among the
Upper Council Santees - a fact confirmed by the family's
visits to "Sisseton" (probably the Upper Agency
in Minnesota). [Eagle Elk-John G. Neihardt Interviews,
1944, Missouri Historical Society] In respect of Crazy
Horse's veneration of his mother's memory, it is worth
noting that Eagle Elk was born in 1851, seven years after
the suicide of Rattle Blanket Woman. His 'choosing' to
call Eagle Elk 'cousin' was, therefore, an honoring of
his mother, suggesting something of the deep bond between
mother and son.
Knowing the strength of the links between the Oyuhkpe
band and the Miniconjou, I believe that these Oyuhkpe
links for Rattle Blanket Woman strengthen the case for
her Miniconjou background.
The Corn Family and Crazy Horse’s step-mothers:
a second Miniconjou Connection
New information from the Clown family has uncovered a
wealth of genealogical data, much of it confusing and
contradictory, but rooted in the fundamental fact that
Julia Iron Cedar Clown (born ca. 1860) knew Crazy Horse
as her ‘brother’. Although much of this evidence is highly
contentious, I do not think that she was a biological
sister in the European sense. However, in a Lakota sense
she clearly was very closely related. My reading of this
evidence is as follows.
The Miniconjou chief Corn or Corn Man, painted by Catlin
in 1832, was the father of a large family. In 1839 Corn
Man was noted by Nicollet as one of five Miniconjou band
chiefs. Corn fathered Red Legs or Red Leggings Woman,
and at least three other named children: a son, Bull Head,
and two daughters, Iron Between Horns and Kills Enemy,
both of whom "were married to Crazy Horse".
By her marriage to a man named Woman Breast, Red Legs
had the following children: Julia Iron Cedar, Leo Combing,
James Bear Pipe, Peter Wolf, and Coming Home Last.
Both of the other daughters, Iron Between Horns and Kills
Enemy, “were married to Crazy Horse”. The latter is Worm,
or Old Man Crazy Horse, the father of the famous war leader.
This gains some support by the appearance of Bull Head
I as a 'brother' to the co-wives, which has always been
a keystone of my understanding of the Miniconjou dimension
to the Crazy Horse genealogy.
Three men identified as Crazy Horse's "uncles"
(leksi) were probably men whom Iron Between Horns and
Kills Enemy called their younger brothers. By 1870 they
were minor headmen among the Miniconjous, and it was in
their camp that Crazy Horse recuperated after the shooting
by No Water. In probable order of age, these uncles were
Ashes (born before ca. 1830: killed at Wounded Knee, 1890?);
Bull Head (born ca. 1831); and Spotted Crow (born ca.
1833). Bull Head is remembered by the Clown family as
a brother to Crazy Horse’s step-mothers.
Men bearing the two latter names signed the Land Agreement
at Cheyenne River in 1889 as Signatory numbers 561 and
575, respectively. Ashes visited Red Cloud Agency in May
1873, and for rationing purposes was credited with leading
four lodges of Miniconjous at Red Cloud the following
winter, 1873-74. In 1877, He Dog recalled, Crazy Horse's
uncle Spotted Crow was one of the advisers who persuaded
him against going to Washington with the Lakota delegation
from Red Cloud Agency. [Eleanor S. Hinman, 'Oglala Sources
on the Life of Crazy Horse’.]
I have seen copies of heirship files from Cheyenne River
which further state that Bull Head had another brother,
Has Horns, whose son was named Charles Corn (1853-1939)
– surely because his grandfather was the chief Corn Man.
Re Julia Iron Cedar calling Crazy Horse her brother (presumably
elder brother, tiblo): it is worth observing that the
above scenario creates a plausible context. Julia would
have addressed any sisters of her mother as 'mother',
and any children of those sisters as her own brothers
and sisters. Thus she would reckon Young Crazy Horse as
her brother, consistent with statements from family tradition.
There was a Young Bull Head, born ca. 1852, and noted
in the 1887 Rosebud Agency Census as enrolled in the Northern
Band - Miniconjous and Sans Arcs who had surrendered at
Spotted Tail Agency in 1877. This younger Bull Head was
a close associate of Crazy Horse's, because Horn Chips
told Judge Eli S. Ricker in 1907 that the feather Crazy
Horse wore "to his honor" (probably an eagle
down plume marking his status as one of the class of hunkayapi)
was then owned by Bull Head, who had relocated to Cheyenne
Regarding a link between the families of Rattle Blanket
Woman and Iron Between Horns and Kills Enemy, the step-mothers
of Crazy Horse are frequently identified as ‘sisters’
of Rattle Blanket Woman. Full sisterhood seems to be ruled
out. Again, we need to establish just what the family
connection was, but I suggest that in a European sense
these women may have been cousins.
The Sicangu Connection
Crazy Horse's "mother was Spotted Tail's sister."
Hyde, Red Cloud's Folk, p. 298 n.
'Spotted Tail' said that 'Crazy Horse' was his nephew":
Bourke, On the Border with Crook, p. 396.
Crazy Horse related to Spotted Tail?/Answer [by Red
Feather] - I don't know."
Gathers The Grapes and Corn (Woman) – two sisters of
Spotted Tail, married Worm after the death of Rattle
Blanket Woman (Donovin Sprague statement to KMB, January
The above evidence seems to contradict the Miniconjou
connection we have established for Crazy Horse’s mother
and step-mothers. However, Victor Douville was emphatic
that Spotted Tail’s family had extensive northern links
(through the Aske band lineage, for which see below),
and that Crazy Horse’s step-mothers were Miniconjou.
The immediate family background of Spotted Tail (1823-81)
is as follows: his father was a Sihasapa (which confirms
some northern connection); while his mother belonged
to the leading family of the Wazhazha band, which was
usually associated with the Sicangu. While details surely
remain to be fully clarified, I feel that Donovin’s
statement, which again explicitly links the name Corn
to Crazy Horse’s step-mothers, is fundamental in establishing
a link. I suggest that – once more – these women were
not biological or full-sisters to Spotted Tail. A connection
would work like this:
woman that Spotted Tail called ‘mother’, perhaps a sister
of his biological mother Walks With the Pipe, married
Miniconjou chief Corn. Their children would have been
‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ to Spotted Tail.
therefore suggest that Gathers The Grapes and Corn are
the same women as Iron Between Horns and Kills Enemy
(although I am not sure which one corresponds to which!).
After Crazy Horse’s death his father and stepmother/s
settled at Rosebud, hinting that there was a definite
Sicangu connection. Worm died there, about 1882. One
of his wives (Iron Between Horns?) died at the home
of a kinsman, Felix Bald Eagle, about 1884. Like Worm,
she was buried along Rosebud Creek. Although very far
from clear, it may be that the other wife (Kills Enemy?)
died a few days after Crazy Horse, in September 1877.
According to the diary of Spotted Tail agent Jesse Lee,
on September 17, “Crazy Horse’s wife died, and her body
was placed on the platform beside his body”. Neither
of young Crazy Horse’s wives (Black Shawl and Nellie
Larabee) died at this time: the reference may be to
the wife of Old Man Crazy Horse.
The Oglala Connection
Crazy Horse had very close relationships with the Miniconjou.
At key transitions in his life – in 1851-52, in 1858,
and in 1870 – he chose to make protracted stays with
the people of his mother and step-mothers. He obviously
felt comfortable there, in a reassuring environment.
By contrast, he seems to have been distinctly uncomfortable
during his known stays among the Sicangu people of Spotted
Tail. However, most of his life was spent among the
Oglala, where he and his father enjoyed a prominent
place in the Hunkpatila band, led by the Man Afraid
of His Horse dynasty of chiefs.
Worm may have had northern antecedents – some suggest
a Miniconjou connection for his family too; Victor Douville
suggested to me a possible link to the Itazipco – but
his home was among the Oglala. The biographical statement
by Joseph Eagle Hawk (‘son’ of He Dog) states plainly
that “Crazy Horse’s father is an original Oglala Sioux,
and his mother is from Cheyenne River . . .” (‘History
of Crazy Horse’, typescript, p. 11, Museum of the Fur
Trade, Chadron, Neb.).
The Oglala identification is borne out by the family
connection to Black Elk. According to Nicholas Black
Elk: “Crazy Horse’s grandfather and Black Elk’s grandfather
[Black Elk II] were two of five brothers”, and were
sons of Black Elk I [born ca. 1760?]: see Sixth Grandfather
p. 323. According to Horn Chips (1907 interview with
Judge E. S. Ricker), and Harvey White Woman (descendant
of Little Hawk, March 2004 statement to Jack Meister),
the father of Worm was Makes the Song. Harvey and Johnson
Holy Rock (statement March 10, 2004) stated that Makes
the Song was a holy man. He must have been born ca.
1785-90, and he and his first wife (name unknown?) had
at least three children: Worm (born ca. 1811), Big Woman
(born ca. 1815), and a son, killed in battle 1844, who
may be the Male Crow (Kangi Bloka) of the Winter Counts.
Later Makes the Song married a younger wife, Good-Haired
Otter Woman (Ptan-Hin-Waste-Win), born ca. 1810, who
bore Little Hawk (Cetan Ciqala, aka Long Face, Ite Hanska),
born ca. 1836. This man, although only four years older
than the famous Crazy Horse, would have been one of
his ate or ‘fathers’. —