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New Fort Robinson Memorial Will Honor Crazy Horse and His Band

A new memorial is in the planning stages to honor Crazy Horse and the 899 who surrendered with him at Fort Robinson in 1877.

Crazy Horse was killed at Fort Robinson in 1877, marked solely by a rough carved stone set in the remaining foundation of the guardhouse where he was killed. The marker was dedicated in 1934, but it only recognized the death of Crazy Horse. Now, Doug Bissonette, spokesman for the Crazy Horse family in Pine Ridge, and Marvin Goings, Lakota, are working with Fort Robinson park officials and the Nebraska State Historical Society to design a new memorial that will also include the names of the 899 others who surrendered with him.

A stone marks the spot where Crazy Horse was killed in 1877.

“Currently planned is a 60-foot diameter circle with large granite stones at the four directions, a stone in the center, and a smaller stone for offerings. It is a traditional Lakota design, and there will be grass and a walking path around it, probably of concrete,” Michael Smith, director at the Nebraska State Historical Society, said, adding that he is supportive of the memorial and that it is long past due.

Monique Ziolkowski, family representative and part of the management team of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, will donate the massive stones for the new memorial.

Four plaques, one in each quadrant of the circle, will contain the names of those who surrendered with Crazy Horse. Still in discussion is the material that will be used to display the names of those listed in the surrender ledger, many of whom are not known by their real names.

The design for the new Crazy Horse memorial.

The plan states that the location of the new memorial “will be laid out in front of the old memorial at the old parade grounds of the U.S. Army.”

“Crazy Horse first surrendered there, and he was killed there, and we want to make a tribute to all those who surrendered with him. That was the last time they were together. After that they scattered all over the place,” Bissonette said.

Crazy Horse’s band was the last hold out in the Indian wars. With Sitting Bull in Canada, Crazy Horse was the Army’s last obstacle to ending the Indian Wars. During the harsh winter of 1877, General Nelson A. Miles attacked the Hunkpatila Oyate in the Battle of Wolf Mountain. The starving Lakota, their horses lame, fought on foot in three feet of snow, with only bows and arrows, against the Army.

Denver Public Library

This photoprint of an illustration of the Battle of Wolf Mountain appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on May 5, 1877.

RELATED: Native History: Crazy Horse Fights Final Battle

Against all odds, Crazy Horse held out until the spring before he led the surrender into Fort Robinson. “In a three-week period of April-May, 1877, the major surrenders came about. These include Crazy Horse, Hump, Dull Knife, and Lame Deer,” Donovin Sprague, historian and spokesman for the Crazy Horse family in Cheyenne River, said. During the surrender, the band dressed up in fine regalia and rode in proudly. “I have a quote from a soldier in my book who said, ‘My God! This is not a surrender but a triumphal and impressive march!’”

Crazy Horse and his people arrived on May 6, 1877, and were given food and made comfortable, and a census was taken.

Nebraska State History Society

This image shows a page of the "Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger" census that was taken.

For the first weeks at Fort Robinson, Crazy Horse was said to have been cooperative and hopeful, but the peace was short-lived. As time passed, there was talk around the fort about going to the Missouri River and Crazy Horse recognized he would not be permitted to go north. The other leaders, Red Cloud, American Horse and Spotted Tail, reported to the head of the fort their concern that Crazy Horse would cause trouble, and orders were given to arrest him. Crazy Horse fled for the Spotted Tail Agency, where he was convinced to return to Fort Robinson to discuss his grievances. When he arrived, he was led into the guardhouse jail. Crazy Horse recognized the scheme, pulled a knife and lashed out, slicing the arm of his friend, Little Big Man. In the scuffle, a bayonet or a knife was plunged into Crazy Horse’s back, and he collapsed. Dying, Crazy Horse was returned to his family, who stayed with him until he passed away the night of September 5.

RELATED: Native History: Crazy Horse Killed By U.S. Soldier While in Custody

This year, on September 6, exactly 138 years and one day after Crazy Horse was killed at Fort Robinson, there will be a planning session for the new memorial, which will be constructed at the site of the guardhouse, where Crazy Horse was stabbed.

Richard Little Hawk

Doug Bissonette, Monique Ziolkowsky, and Richard Little Hawk at Crazy Horse Mountain. Ziolkowsky will provide stones for the new memorial at Fort Robinson.