Chief Crazy Horse, Tashunka Witko, 1842 – 1877, the great Lakota Sioux Warrior Chief had three visions. The Following is his second Vision also known as the Great Vision of Crazy Horse, probably experienced in 1871 when he did a Vision Quest at Bear Butte.
On Bear Butte after much preparation and fasting and during a great thunder and lightening storm with hailstones falling around him but not striking him, Crazy Horse heard a voice telling him to behold what is to be. His eyes were able to see far away things in detail. He looked below and saw a town of the white people with many houses. He saw them busy with their work like many ants, but he felt a coldness from them that he did not understnad until he saw on the edge of this town some poor shacks where Indians lived. The Indians wore old castoff white men’s clothes and their eyes were sullen like the darkness of a cloud. He saw two of them lying still on the ground where water puddles formed in the street. There was about them the stink of too much wiskey. He saw an old woman washing clothes by rubbing them on a board and about her was a weariness as if she could hardly move another inch. He knew the old spirit had gone from these people and a great sadness came over him. He knew who had caused this as one people held another down while taking whatever they wanted. His anger flashed. To die to save his people from this fate would be good. But he heard the voice say: “This had to be, but it will pass away, for all the people of Earth must gather together like the geese that fly together in the springtime.” When he looked again down he saw not only the broken hearts and minds among his people, but also the few strong ones who somehow kept the spirit through all the bad times. For there were old men and women whose faces mirrored the clouds and the earth, and whose eyes had the light of the dawn, and he could see that they were passing on this spark to some few of their grandchildren.
As he next looked down, he saw black ribbons across the prairies. Looking closer he recognized the ribbons as little many-colored bugs moving very fast and then he saw people inside those fast moving bugs and he saw there were few horses anymore. Then he saw the darkness increasing all over the earth and heard loud noises with whistlings and screaming within the darkness. He saw the pain and tears of the families and realized that somewhere their loved ones were being killed. Next he saw people running about like crazy without accomplishing anything except putting up more buildings. He looked up and saw birds that were not birds but had lights by night as they flew through the sky. Then more fighting where explosions were so great that they rocked the mountains and made many houses disappear beneath a great smoke cloud.
After the great wars there came a time of new hope where the people tried to keep away from crazy water and were wearing better clothes and living in better houses. Yet there were still walls between his people and most of the white people. Suddenly all the people’s faces disappeared into the darkness. From the east there came a light from a star with nine points and he knew this represented the nine circles, including the two new ones yet to come. Then a sacred herb grew into a great Sacred Tree of his people. The light continued to come from the east which was the world of the spirit, he saw people still in darkness and some were reaching their hands toward the light, some seeing it and some not seeing it. Some people were asking others if they saw the light. Some people were dancing in the spirit world under the sacred tree, but their faces were different and he realized the tree was too big for just his people alone and contained all races of men. They formed one circle of one people, united though different in a strange and sacred way.
When Crazy Horse told this vision to his father, he was silent for a long while. Finally, Worm (as old Crazy Horse chose to be humbly known after he gave his name to his son), realizing his son had been given a vision greater than he would ever have, spoke his feelings about Crazy Horse’s great vision. He said “There is both bad and good in this vision. First you saw our people conquered, crazy water ruining our people’s lives and our people being treated badly by the white people. But some still carried the dreams in secret until such time as they could share the secret hope to spread new light to all people.” Worm went on to describe to Crazy Horse the importance of resisting the white soldiers through creating brave and honorable leaders even though in the end they cannot win the fight. Still it is important to create great leaders for the people to remember. Then one day as the vision showed, some of the white people will seek to fairly deal with all people and will share the light with others.
From the day of his father’s talk, Crazy Horse increased the time he spent with young people. Taking time to explain the ways of the the Lakota in terms they could grasp and encouraging them to be brave and strong of spirit.
(This account was sent to me by Julia Summer Day, a Lakota woman from the Pine Ridge reservation. Editor)