Crazy Horse’s Law

A shirt experts think was worn by Crazy Horse is inspected at the National Museum of the American Indian during my 2010 fellowship

A shirt experts think was worn by Crazy Horse is inspected at the National Museum of the American Indian during my 2010 fellowship

Maybe we should call it Crazy Horse’s Law.

Mainstream North American culture brings some truths that we all acknowledge but rarely question.

Take Murphy’s Law.

The suspicious part of our shared-American cultural nature presumes that no matter how much we prepare for life’s challenges, things will go wrong.

What can go wrong, will go wrong.

We call it Murphy’s Law—according it an undeserved status as a law, although it is neither legally nor empirically sound.

The origin of Murphy’s Law is unknown—at least, according to Wikipedia.

There is a scientific side to Murphy’s Law, in the sense that if you test something over and over, you are bound to get a false positive result.

What that means is, even if you are not pregnant, the test will say you are pregnant. The test is wrong: a false positive.

As a social scientist, I acknowledge that 5 percent of the time my assumptions may be—well, wrong.

We give ourselves a 5 percent margin of being wrong.

But the way we use Murphy’s Law in everyday discourse is more a reflection of our sometimes-pessimistic temperaments.

I wonder how much of this temperament is formed by a personal history of “things going wrong.”

And I can’t help but think about relationships between North American Indians and non-Indian governments concerning shared land-use, citizenship status and blood quantum over the past 300 years.

As Indians, do we imagine that Murphy’s Law suggests that—no matter the agreement nor treaty—results will ultimately prove bad for our tribes?

What can go wrong, will go wrong.

Pessimism is borne from every-day experiences, which Native Science espouses as an important pillar, in contrast to empirical studies.

Everyday experiences tell us that, despite our best efforts, things get screwed up.

Crazy Horse, a Lakota relative who avoided contact with settlers and followed his own passions, decided—after years of ignoring politics—to surrender to the US government.

He presented himself to the US commander at Ft. Robinson (Nebraska) not long after the battle at Little Big Horn in 1876.

After his surrender, Crazy Horse was stabbed, and died at Ft. Robinson in September, 1877.

What can go wrong, will go wrong.

Crazy Horse’s Law.



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, crazy horse, Indian, Indian remains, murphys law, native american, native press, Native Science, science, science communication and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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