A sketch described as "Crazy Horse and his band of Indians on their way from Camp Sheridan to surrender to General Crook at Red Cloud Agency, Sunday, May 6, 1877." Image: U.S. Library of Congress
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Strip club that bore name of Crazy Horse rebuked by federal court

A strip club once named for the revered Lakota leader Crazy Horse was rebuked last week for abusing the court system as part of an employment lawsuit.

Crazy Horse Saloon and Restaurant, Inc. of South Carolina was "disdainful of orderly judicial process" and "lacking in the respect" owed to the plaintiff in the litigation, a panel of federal appeals court judges wrote on January 18. The business even misled workers about the nature of the litigation it was facing and pressured them into signing questionable agreements, according to the ruling.

"The combination of these circumstances rendered defendant’s conduct indefensible from the get-go," Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the 16-page ruling.

The decision means plaintiff Alexis Degidio, a former performer at Crazy Horse, can proceed with a class action lawsuit against the business, based in Myrtle Beach. She alleges that the owners violated federal and state law by denying her and fellow workers their proper wages and tips.

Degidio filed the lawsuit more than four years ago. Yet the case has failed to advance significantly due to Crazy Horse's questionable "maneuvers," which included a late attempt to force performers into arbitration out of court, the 4th Circuit wrote.

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Getty Images: Alfred Red Cloud in Paris, France

Crazy Horse Saloon and Restaurant, Inc. is now operating its "gentleman's club" under a different name. But it isn't the only business that has exploited an association with the Lakota leader who played a key role in the historic Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

There's another "Crazy Horse" strip club in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the name is actually trademarked. Then there's a famous venue all the way over in France.

"Once associated with a legendary Native American leader, 'Crazy Horse' is now a registered trademark for 'entertainment services, namely, exotic dance performances,'" 2016 ruling from another federal appeals court stated

"The mark “Crazy Horse” has been associated with adult entertainment since Alain Bernardin opened the celebrated Crazy Horse Saloon off the Champs-Elysees in 1951," the decision continued. "And it has been associated with heated trademark disputes since Bernardin sued a London imitator in 1967."

Crazy Horse is the English translation of the Lakota name Tȟašúŋke Witkó. Some of the Lakota leader's descendants have attempted, without much success, to have a say in the way the "Crazy Horse" name is used.

‘‘I'm not trying to close the establishment down, I just want the name changed,'' Alfred Red Cloud, a citizen of the Oglala SIoux Tribe, said during a visit to France in 2004, The Associated Press reported at the time. The strip club continues to use the "Crazy Horse" name.

4th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Degidio v. Crazy Horse Saloon and Restaurant (January 18, 2018)