Crazy Horse

March 19th, 2009

  This photoprint is of an illustration from Frank Leslie’s Newspaper, October 12, 1877.  It is a depiction of Chief Crazy Horse’s funeral procession passing through camp Sheridan on the way to the grave on September 5, 1877. He had been stabbed by one of  the reservation officers when he resisted arrest; his hands were bound behind his back. In an excerpt from “American Indian Biographies” it is  reported that Crazy Horse’s parents alone took his body into the hills and buried him in a place only known to them.  However, other accounts claim that he is buried near Wounded Knee, South Dakota.  This print shows an extensive funeral procession and seems to be made up of women. However, the Library of Congress website describes the figures in the print as both men and women. 

Crazy Horse was an Native American icon.  His charismatic leadership yielded him many followers.  He refused to sign treaties and remained on his land to protect it even after other tribes had relocated on reservations or fled to Canada.  He eventually surrendered to General Crook in Nebraska and went to live at the Red Cloud Agency.  Rumors that he was going to escape forced his arrest and subsequent death.

Leslie has chosen to depict the funeral of Crazy Horse with messianic overtones.  Though it may have been the custom, his body is wrapped and the presence of female characters surrounding the body resembles the crucifixion of Christ leading up to the events at the tomb. Over time, it has been revealed that Native American spirituality has been strongly influenced by Christianity.

Frank Leslie was born Henry Carter in Ispwich, England. He was an illustrator and moved to the U. S. in 1848.  He is famous for his illustrations of the Civil War as well as several Native American prints.  On the back of this print “Indians-Dakota Biography-Crazy Horse Funeral” is written. Repository: Western History/Genealogy Depart, Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, CO 80204


 Library of Congress. “Indians-Dakota-Biography-Crazy Horse Funeral.” (accessed March 17, 2009).

Encyclopedia of North American Indians. Vol. 3. Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1997.

Markowitz, Harvey, and Barrett Carole, eds. American Indian Biographies. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2005.

Frank Leslie Civil War Illustrations. (accessed March 15, 2009).

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