Crazy Horse's medicines,
now sacred relics, were passed down through the Horn Chips family,
to a private collector, and to their forever home at Crazy Horse
(Photo: Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial marked a significant milestone in May when
it welcomed its first school group to view the Horn Chips Collection
in The Indian Museum of North America. Thirty-six students and six
teachers traveled from the Pine Ridge Reservation's Batesland School
on Friday, May 21 to learn more about Crazy Horse through the medicines
a holy man made for the Lakota leader more than 150 years ago.
According to Andrew Dunehoo, museum curator and director of cultural
affairs, the museum first learned about the Horn Chips Collection
in 2014, when an anonymous private collector reached out to the
Memorial. The Horn Chips family had entrusted these items to the
collector, and when he had an opportunity to sell them internationally,
"He told us that something compelled him not to sell them, and
to entrust them to us," Dunehoo recounted. "We felt it important
to organize cultural consultation for this collection, and we invited
representatives of tribes from across the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven
Council Fires. They believe these items are authentic. We held prayers
and conducted a ceremony for them, because they are sacred."
Lakota holy man Woptuha (Horn Chips) first began creating these
medicines for Crazy Horse after the young Lakota man went on his
hanbleceya, which literally translates to "crying for a vision."
Horn Chips interpreted Crazy Horse's dreams and created appropriate
medicines that would protect him. Over the years, Crazy Horse returned
to Horn Chips for more medicines to provide guidance and renewed
Although Crazy Horse often is called a chief, he did not hold that
role in a traditional sense. He was a warrior, and as Dunehoo noted,
he was deeply dedicated to his people.
"He was a servant leader," Dunehoo explained. "Even as a young
man, Crazy Horse embodied Lakota values. They were in his nature.
He always put others ahead of himself."
After Crazy Horse's death in 1877, his medicines now sacred
relics were passed down through the Horn Chips family, to
the private collector, and finally to their forever home at Crazy
Horse Memorial. Today, the Horn Chips Collection has a four-member
advisory committee overseeing their care: Dennis Yellow Thunder,
Eugene Black Crow, Waylon Black Crow, and Rick Gray Grass, all members
of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
"We work closely with them," Dunehoo said. "They provide guidance
on prayers and traditional beliefs, and they advise us on how to
show proper respect for the items, including how we approach them,
and even how we talk about them."
The full Horn Chips Collection comprises 249 items; at present,
approximately 15 are accessible to school groups through the Indian
Museum of North America. Many of these are cut pieces of buffalo
and mountain goat hide. They are simple, unembellished, and very
"Eventually we will have a dedicated, climate-controlled space
for them to rest peacefully," Dunehoo said. "For now, we are only
making them available to school groups and other select groups in
special circumstances, and we provide appropriate interpretation.
"Dennis Yellow Thunder has said that there is tremendous power
and responsibility in these items that could change the world,"
he continued. "They have the power to produce healing and positive
energy. That has potential for all students, Native and non-Native."
When Batesland School students arrived on May 21, staff members
spoke with them about the importance of shedding all negative energies
before approaching the sacred objects. Everyone rubbed sage to help
detach those energies, taking advantage of the plant's cleansing
"This is an important cultural teaching," Dunehoo said, "and the
kids were just incredible. They were so respectful, kind, and reverent."
The students then engaged with the unique Horn Chips Collection
educational curriculum for grades 3-8, which was developed by Joe
DeRouchey, Crazy Horse Memorial's educational coordinator and assistant
manager of visitor services. The curriculum incorporates Lakota
language and stories, the significance of each item in teaching
fundamental cultural principles, and opportunities for students
to create their own winter count and ledger art.
"In the process, the kids learned that Crazy Horse was someone
they should know and emulate," Dunehoo said. "He was someone who
stood up for a way of life, recognized the importance of the culture,
and fought for its continuation."
Crazy Horse Memorial encourages educators in grades 3-8 who are
interested in the Horn Chips Collection to call (605) 673-4681 for
more information and to make arrangements for a guided visit. Curricula
for high school and post-secondary students and for elders are currently
To learn more about Crazy Horse Memorial, to plan a visit, and
for information about making a contribution, call (605) 673-4681
or visit crazyhorsememorial.org.
To stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow the Crazy
Horse Memorial on Facebook (/crazyhorsememorial), Twitter (@crazyhorsemem)
and Instagram (@crazyhorsememorial); and follow The Indian Museum
of North America on Facebook (/imnacrazyhorse) and Instagram (@imnacrazyhorse).
Horse Memorial Foundation
The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is dedicated
to protecting and preserving the culture, tradition, and living
heritage of the North American Indians by continuing the progress
on the world's largest sculptural undertaking, the memorial of Lakota
leader Crazy Horse; providing educational and cultural programming
to encourage harmony and reconciliation among all peoples and nations;
acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts, and
crafts through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native
American Educational and Cultural Center; and establishing and operating
the Indian University of North America and, when practical, a medical
training center for American Indians.