Crazy Horse: Tiyospaye

crazy horse stampLarry McMurtry—who wrote Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment—penned a biography of Crazy Horse that proved a solid summer read.

McMurtry writes about my relatives in the book Crazy Horse (Penguin-Viking, 1999).

He says Crazy Horse was a lad of five or six when Francis Parkman camped with Old Smoke’s village in 1846. Parkman wrote about his adventures in The Oregon Trail.

Parkman and his troupe, guided by my great-great-great-great grandfather, a Frenchman married to a Lakota woman, witnessed Sioux-settler relations first-hand.

Following is one of Parkman’s observations of an Oglala warrior:

He was a young fellow, of no note in his nation; yet in his person and equipments he was a good specimen of a Dahcotah warrior in his ordinary travelling dress. Like most of his people, he was nearly six feet high; lithely and gracefully, yet strongly proportioned; and with a skin singularly clear and delicate.

He wore no paint; his head was bare; and his long hair was gathered in a clump behind, to the top of which was attached transversely, both by way of ornament and of talisman, the mystic whistle, made of the wing-bone of the war-eagle, and endowed with various magic virtues.

From the back of his head descended a line of glittering brass plates, tapering from the size of a doubloon to that of a half- dime, a cumbrous ornament, in high vogue among the Dahcotahs, and for which they pay the traders a most extravagant price; his chest and arms were naked, the buffalo robe, worn over them when at rest, had fallen about his waist, and was confined there by a belt.

This, with the gay moccasins on his feet, completed his attire (from The Oregon Trail, 1849, p. 139).

I never knew the connection with Crazy Horse—only that I am a direct descendant of Bull Bear (Mahto Tatonka), whom Parkman describes in detail on other pages in the book.

So I asked my Ho Chunk-Lakota Indatsay, John Artichoker, if we are related to Crazy Horse and his response: of course—we are Tiyospaye.

Tiyospaye means family.

Image of Crazy Horse stamp from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, Francis Parkman, Henri Chatillion, science, science communication and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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