Who killed George Armstrong Custer

Sep. 5, 1877 - Warchief Crazy Horse is killed

Four American presidents are immortalized on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills: From 1927 to 1941, the 18-meter-high faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were carved into the rock in the US state of South Dakota. Another huge monument is being built 14 kilometers southwest of it. It is supposed to be reminiscent of Crazy Horse: a war chief of the Lakota Indians, who belong to the Sioux. Since 1948 work has been carried out on his image on behalf of some Indians. At some point Crazy Horse will be carved out of stone and sit on his horse. Other Indians reject the project, which is supposed to be around 170 meters high. They lament the desecration of their sacred Black Hills.

There is hardly any reliable information about Crazy Horse itself. "He was never photographed," says Markus Lindner, ethnologist at the University of Frankfurt am Main. Everything that is known comes from second or third hand. According to the tales, the Lakota Indian, born around 1844, is a good fighter in the 19th century who soon becomes an influential war leader. At the same time, he campaigned for social values ​​such as good care for the elderly and the weak.

Fight in the Battle of Little Bighorn

In the 1870s, the white settlers want to buy the Black Hills from the Indians because gold has been found there. However, the discovery was illegal because, according to the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, the area belongs to the Indians and no prospector should have appeared there. But this can no longer stop greed.

A battle comes with an unexpected outcome: In 1876, a superior force of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians destroyed the Seventh Cavalry Regiment on the Little Bighorn River - in the southwest of what is now the US state of Montana. All around 225 soldiers die, including their General George Armstrong Custer. Crazy Horse is considered "one of the bravest fighters in the whole battle," says ethnologist Lindner. But it is the last time that the Indians are still in a position to oppose the white overwhelming power.

Stabbed with the bayonet

Hunger, hardship and armed conflicts ultimately lead many Indians to come to terms with a life on the reservation. Crazy Horse is not one of them. He is said to be arrested for allegedly planning a conspiracy - a rumor. On September 5, 1877, Crazy Horse rode to Fort Robinson to correct the matter. But the guards immediately try to arrest him. During the scuffle, one of the guards strikes with his bayonet. Crazy Horse dies from the injury - and becomes a symbol.

The ethnologist Lindner answers the question of what would have become of the courageous fighter if he had survived: "He would have had to assimilate at some point." Because traditional livelihoods like hunting no longer existed. The reputation of a staunch warrior, "who had never given up the old lacto way until his death, would certainly have been lost if he had lived on."

Status: 05.09.2012

Program tips:

On WDR 2 you can always hear the due date around 9.40 a.m. Repetition: from Monday to Friday at 5:40 p.m. and on Saturday at 6:40 p.m. The deadline is available as a podcast after it has been broadcast.