Opinion

Tim Giago: Boyhood friend knew where Crazy Horse was buried






Tim Giago. Photo by Talli Nauman

Crazy Horse and Chips, boyhood friends
Chips knew where his bones were buried
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© Native Sun News

Where is the burial place of the great Lakota warrior Tasunka Witko; Crazy Horse?

According to Bob Morrison (his Lakota name was Holy Dance) the bones of Chief Crazy Horse were moved several times after his death in order to protect them from the government. In the Lakota way Bob was the son-in-law of Chips, a Wicasa Wakan (Holy Man) and the childhood friend of Crazy Horse. Chips was considered as the Medicine Man to Crazy Horse.

Bob was married to Annie Randall, a close relative of Chips. The old Medicine Man loved to visit with Bob and Annie and they would talk late into the night about his friend Crazy Horse. Chips told Bob that a lady named Whirlwind Bug had kept the bones of Crazy Horse and buried them near a place owned by Felix Bald Eagle near Manderson close to the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

She was sick and dying and so she told Chips where the bones were buried and asked him to take care of them. Bob said that somehow the government found out about this. Chips said the government always tried to get the bones and they offered him some deals to get them. Chips said the government offered him 15 cows and $30 a month for the rest of his life. He said the state government of South Dakota offered him $1,500, 20 heifers and 10 mares if he would turn them over.

According to Bob Holy Dance, Chips told the federal and state governments that Crazy Horse was his brother and since he loved his relations he didn’t want the grave disturbed. At this point Chips told Holy Dance that he was getting old and could pass at any time. Bob said, “He told me I was a good man and he wanted me to take over his job of watching over those bones.”

According to a written narrative of Bob Holy Dance, Chips told him that he had taken the bones to a place just east of Porcupine Butte and that he had buried them as best he could in a wash, just under the sod. He said that it was late when he and his wife had come to that place and he was too old and tired to make a good grave.”

Chips told Bob that he had the bones in a trunk, but he took them out and put them in a rawhide bag. He told Bob that he would go in the spring and show him right where the place was, but he made a map in the sand so I would know where to look if anything happened before that time came.

Chips died that winter in 1914. He never had the chance to take Holy Dance to the burial site. Bob said, “That Spring I returned to the spot that Chips told me about where the grave was and sure enough I found it.” Bob said he worked pretty fast because Indians are superstitious about things like that. “I made a good grave in the sod in the washout.”

Holy Dance last visited the grave site of Crazy Horse in 1934.

Before he died Bob Holy Dance said, “Nobody knows about this true story of the burial site of Crazy Horse until this time right now. I would not tell it but there have been so many lies said about this burial place and so many lies about Crazy Horse that I think it is time now for the truth to come out.”

I present the comments in this column that I garnered from an unpublished manuscript that has been kept under wraps for many years. Chips was the boyhood friend of Crazy Horse and went with him into battle and was his follower and Medicine Man up to the day Crazy Horse was assassinated at Fort Robinson in Nebraska.

The author of the manuscript was a Catholic priest who started his research on the life and death of Crazy Horse in 1915. No one, including the individual who offered this manuscript to me knows the whereabouts or the fate of the author. There will probably be some discussions among the Oglala Lakota because Crazy Horse is a beloved figure among them, but I am only relating the story as it came to me. Perhaps the leaders of the Oglala Lakota should verify the authenticity of this article and if true, make an effort to build a monument on the site for their greatest leader.

If the details in the manuscript are correct, the bones of Crazy Horse are buried near Porcupine Butte on the Pine Ridge Reservation on the property owned by James Czywcynski, property that is now up for sale.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. Giago is the author of Children Left Behind and is now the editor and publisher of Native Sun News. He can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com