All through the Badlands there are reminders of who used to own this land. There are hay-colored grasses and scrub trees standing silently like penitent monks or atavistic sentries that bore witness. Then and now, window rocks from the “Devil’s Tower” where the Sioux kept watch for cavalry and road agents and bounty hunters, who collected a tarriff for every Sioux they killed. The natural history and landscape of the Badlands still bear the impression of the bloody and brutal history that unfolded there.
We sometimes think of the Badlands as only Montana and the Dakotas. It actually spanned many states and the Great Plains almost as a whole. Horses were not introduced to the Americas until the Spanish brought them in 1640 or so and the Sioux were among the first tribes to become expert horsemen. Horses were of more value than land in many Native American cultures.
Crazy Horse was a superior rider who could do many other things while riding a horse. He was as expert at breaking and training horses as well as capturing wild horses. As a young man, Crazy Horse stole another brave’s wife, Black Buffalo Woman, who it is said he was in love with ’til the day he died. Upon being confronted and captured by tribal elders, he was forced to return her as well as two horses to the aggrieved brave. This was considered an extremely harsh penalty. All Black Buffalo Woman would have had to do in order to divorce the brave was to move his stuff out in front of their tent and this would have been the only statement necessary regarding the finality of their marriage. Crazy Horse was heartbroken by this and became even more reckless in leading war parties and raids. His first wife, Yellow Dress, grieved endlessly over his taking up with another woman and died at a young age.
At a relatively young, age Crazy Horse lost the woman he loved, a brother and his father, and it probably affected the view he had of the world. That life was perilous, short, bitter, and fragile. . .this piece is called, “The Horse Star.”