The Thunder Being

“Crazy Horse’s vision first took him to the South, where in Lakota spirituality one goes upon death. He was brought back and was taken to the West in the direction of the Wwakiyans, or Thunder Beings. . .”

– Wikipedia entry about Crazy Horse

The Thunder Being


I haven’t a fucking clue as to what the above quote is supposed to mean.  Nor, I suspect, am I meant to.  Native American and Indian lore wasn’t written for me.  Still, the idea of a “Thunder Being” sounded powerful and poetic to me.  As a kid I was scared by thunder and thought of it as something that walked the earth; a giant of some kind.  As I grew older, I rather liked it.  It seemed something that nature had in its back pocket anytime it wanted to let us know who (or what) was in charge.

What i most admire about Crazy Horse is that he helped kill Custer; a stone, murderous, psychopath.  The movie Little Big Man, I think, pretty much has Custer’s number.  Custer pretty much attacked when he was sure he had a superior number to the opposition.  Years ago, I traveled all over the West and stopped in a small town not far from where the battle of Little Big Horn occured; Spotted Horse, Wyoming.  It was basically a post office and a diner/bar, and the guy who ran it was an old cowboy who had a tank full of rattlesnakes out in front of the place and he wore a six-shooter in a holster.  It was he who told me that Custer died slow.  He said that Custer was “turned over the women.”  I was shocked.  I asked Mark Turcotte, the Chippewa poet about this and he said, “Custer’s last breath wasn’t on the battle field.”

There are moments of history when I’d have liked to have been there; like when Custer was introduced to the Oglala nation. . .when he looked around and realized the Oglala had the ass over him and that he was truly fucked.  The wet-ass hour.

Did he pray?  Did he ask forgiveness?  Did he ask for mercy?  Did he realize his golden locks would be lashed to the end of a war-staff by the time the sun went down?

There is a powerful kind of atmosphere around that part of the country.  It is as if the land knows and that the scene of the American genocide of its first citizens still carries its ghosts.  Montana and Wyoming are places where nature is, to say the very least, formidable.  One doesn’t curse the snow, the rain, the dust, the hail, or god, because here; it is all the same thing.

When I was a kid, I thought thunder was something that walked the earth. Maybe Crazy Horse did, too.  I don’t try to explain what Native Americans mean when they speak of these things.  I’m not meant to understand it.  The more I read about Crazy Horse, the more admirable he is to me.

There is a mountain being carved  up as a monument to him; something he’d have probably found obscene.  Russel Means, the former leader of AIM, has spoken out against it on the grounds that it is contrary to the spirit of Crazy Horse.  While meant as a tribute, Indian peoples realize the mountain, itself, is triumph enough.

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