Crazy Horse Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Crazy Horse is one of the most famous Native American war chiefs in history. In this lesson, find out about Crazy Horse's life and the battles he fought to preserve the Sioux way of life.

Curly and Crazy Horse

Do you know what your name means? The meaning of one's name is important to Native Americans, and they often had more than one. In fact, the famous Sioux War Chief, Crazy Horse, had several names. As a boy, he was called Curly because he had brown, curly hair.

According to some stories, one night he had a vision that he was riding a horse into a battle to defend his people, and that is how he got his name. Other sources say that he had to prove himself as a warrior first.

Brave and Generous

Crazy Horse was born around 1840 in a Lakota Sioux village in South Dakota. His father was a Medicine Man. He was well-liked by his friends. Crazy Horse wasn't big or tall, but he was brave and fearless. He was also generous. He gave away his possessions to the people in his tribe. He was a quiet person who didn't talk much. Throughout his life, he also refused to be photographed.

Legend says that when he was just thirteen years old, he went on a horse-stealing raid at a neighboring tribe. He also led his first war party before he was twenty. Crazy Horse grew up in a time when the Sioux were growing in power and had a large amount of land. This started to change in the 1850s as white settlers began moving onto the frontier.

Battle Cry

One day, when Crazy Horse was just twelve years old, United States soldiers came to a Sioux village. The soldiers said a man in the village had stolen a cow from a farmer. An argument broke out and a soldier killed the village's chief. This was the beginning of the war between the Sioux Nation and the United States. After this incident, known as the Grattan Massacre, Crazy Horse did not trust the white men. He felt strongly about preserving the Sioux way of life.

Crazy Horse continued to lead raids against white settlers during the 1860s. The Sioux were winning and even granted full ownership of the Black Hills, a small mountain range in western South Dakota, in 1868. However, when gold was found in the Black Hills, even more people moved into the Native Americans' territory. Fighting continued.

Crazy Horse, with the help of Sitting Bull, won the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. This battle is considered to be one of the Native Americans' biggest victories.

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