I have been hesitating to weigh in on this discussion as I watch it unfold -- I wish we could keep our discussions focused on the information in question and maintain a respectful and supportive atmosphere.
From my own perspective, all forms of evidence used in reconstructing the past should be viewed with a critical eye. This is true whether we are talking about oral history passed down through several generations or a written census record; this includes maps and even photographs. Each of these records reflect the perspective of the individual(s) who recorded it, with all those imperfections and biases; and sometimes they reflect the misunderstandings of those who read or hear the information from within their own frame of reference. As avocational historians trying to understand the past, we have to be prepared to carefully examine every source and compare them with other data. I don't believe that having a critical eye about sources represents favoritism or racism, rather an effort to get closer to "the truth", whatever that may be.
But some issues arise that cannot be completely resolved with the available evidence. It is clear that the Clown family have an oral history regarding Woman's Breast and Worm being the same individual. I do not believe it is disrespectful to that family if we consider this new information carefully in light of what else is known. I acknowledge that their information could very well be true. But it is also possible that some part of it has become misunderstood. We should point out that the oral history of other family members, through the line of Little Hawk (Crazy Horse's uncle), disagree with the Clown family claim. In fact, this very issue is in court currently in an effort to determine the heirs of Crazy Horse's estate.
One of the writers in a message above is absolutely correct in suggesting that census records are not always accurate. I have found many inaccuracies, especially the earliest ones from the 1876-1881 period. At most, a census record represents just a snap shot and are not always easy to interpret as Lakota relationships were recorded by bureaucrats using the narrow Euro-American words and definitions. I find that census records cannot stand alone. They are most helpful when linked with other lines of evidence such as oral histories and additional documents.
When I attempt to match up the very meager census records with the oral histories told by the Little Hawk descendants and the Clown descendants about Crazy Horse's father, I think the evidence leans more towards the Little Hawk oral history. Womans Breast's family appears in the 1881 Standing Rock Agency census in Hump's band of Minnecoujou, shortly after they were transferred from Fort Keogh to Standing Rock. Unfortunately, we do not have complete lists of Hump's band while at Fort Keogh (we have a partial list from 1877), but perhaps one day such a document will turn up. Based on the fact that Womans Breast is with Hump in 1881, I suspect he came in with him in 1877 to Fort Keogh and then traveled downriver with Hump by steamboat to Standing Rock. The fact that "Crazy Horse's father" (presumably Worm) appears in the Spotted Tail/Rosebud census records in 1877-78 and in 1881 suggests to me that they are not the same individual as claimed by the Clown family.
So what might the Clown family oral history represent? The evidence suggests that Julia Clown referred to Crazy Horse as a "brother", not in the Euro-American definition of the word but within the more expansive Lakota definition of the term. I suspect that is true. What we may not understand right now is the actually genealogical relationship of Julia Clown and Crazy Horse. In the end, I wonder how important that detail is. Whether the connection to Crazy Horse is through Worm/Womans Breast being the same individual or two closely related individuals, is it not possible that the Clown family has preserved some interesting perspectives on the life of Crazy Horse?
I, for one, will be ordering a copy of the CD to see what they have to say.
Last Edit: Dec 17, 2006 17:03:50 GMT -5 by ephriam
I agree with Ephriam. A good researcher is cautious and critical. The historical sources, censuses and manuscripts can to confirm, modify or reject oral history. I'm pretty sure in that the Lakotas have good oral histories because that was like our writing. But as the the viewpoint of one writer is different from another, so the memory of one family is different from another.
For example, according to the Clown family, Iron Cedar Woman related to Crazy Horse, but Flying Hawk stated that his mother related to one of the wives of Sitting Bull....
1) Little Hawk 1 was Corn's brother and his son, Little Hawk 2, who was killed in 1870, was a close friend to CH. Corn was CH (step) Grandfather.
2) Hump 1 was Rattling Blanket Woman's brother, both children of Black Buffalo. Waglula was kola to his brother-in-law. And that would make the son, Hump 2 (of Standing Rock), cousin to CH. Obviously a close connection all around.
Good points, Ephriam. But I'm not familiar with the Little Hawk connection that you mention. I only know one story and am far from an expert even on that. I don't have access to the research. I'm already reminding myself to stay out of this before I get in over my head. Which is starting to ache as I get further into the maze. Good you're going to check out the DVD.
Hi Billy, thanks for the welcome! And the vote of support, Gordie. But it's 'sister'.
I don't think we are that far apart on this. And in hindsight, I could have arrived with more tact. The 'Englishman' crack was a cheap shot. His book is very scholarly, shows a great deal of research and is big enough to throw at a burglar. ....occasionally lapses into Sandozims.... So well put. But I honestly enjoyed it.
Fact is, I had just seen the DVD for the first time when I found this discussion, and I was still feeling it's impact pretty strongly. It does that to you.
Sioux genealogy is a maze. We all know that, just reread this discussion. Validating their lineage is like trying to nail jello to a tree. I spend a lot of time on Cheyenne River. What Mr. Bray discredits is very sacred to them. I think you'll understand if you see the DVD.
My recommendation? Buy both!
CLW (or is it Catherine?)
Tact? Isn't that some dirty four-letter word?
Now for a couple of Excedrin as trying to figure out Indian genealogy reminds me too much of my mother's family. Just as an FYI, from the late 1600's through the 1700's the Hardisons tended to have many sons. Unfortunately they also tended to name their sons after their brothers and to add to any self-respecting genealogist's anguish, they tended to be stick-at-homes. Thus eastern NC is thickly populated during that time (pretty much up through the Civil War-that tended to thin them out somewhat) with multiple Josephs, Johns, Jaspers, Noahs, etc. with usually three (and sometimes four) generations represented in those like names.
Between the NA and Hardison genealogy, I think I will stick with nailing jello to a tree. It is less of a headache!
Merry Christmas to you and yours,
P.S. Now to dig into my books about the Apache to plan an appropriate response to the idiot who sent out an FYI page of literally no importance at 03:08 and woke up half the company's Tier III tech support teams including yours truly.
P.P.S. Nothing having any relevance to this board but as I listen to it, I can't help but think that Paul Simon's "Graceland" was and still is an outstanding album.
Last Edit: Dec 18, 2006 5:18:47 GMT -5 by markland
Post by kingsleybray on Dec 18, 2006 6:25:58 GMT -5
I've been waiting for this thread (and myself) to cool down a little, but I'll take the opportunity to address some of the issues raised about my book and myself.
Before addressing some of the general points, I'd like to correct the record about me. Catherine's Lakota correspondent writes that in 2002 he or his associates approached Nebraska State Historical Society to speak to me during the Fort Robinson historical symposium - and was turned down. Let me say that I was not aware then or later of such an inquiry - until I read this message board last week. I'm somewhat surprised, since both myself and my friend Jack Meister (who also attended that symposium) had been working for weeks or even months to arrange meetings at Fort Rob with Lakota people. As an Englishman my opportunities for research trips to the USA are not unlimited and I like to maximise my contacts with both US scholars and members of the Lakota community - sometimes, they're one and the same. I was able to meet with people from both Pine Ridge and Rosebud, but no-one from Cheyenne River. Since Jack Meister was at the time in frequent telephone conversation with members of the Clown family, I'm again surprised that we weren't aware of an approach by them or associates.
Catherine's correspondent, and Catherine herself, attack me intemperately as "rush[ing] to get that book out before the CD, out of fear he would loose dollars." This is gross misrepresentation, although inadvertently funny given the long road to publication. Research aside, I wrote the basic text of the biography between 1998 and 2000. I made revisions, cuts and corrections until the final text was approved one year ago, in December 2005. Because I was a teensy bit slow in some of the editing, publication was deferred from 2005 until this September. This isn't rushing into print, as my wife kept reminding me throughout the editing!
That brings me to the research, and the associated issue of my "stealing [Lakota] history to make money or to gain a fame". I've been interested in Plains Indian history since childhood (I just turned fifty), and have been purposively researching since 1980. Since then I've had a number of articles, chiefly on Lakota history, published by scholarly journals both here in the UK and in the States. I shouldn't have to stress the point that for this work I've received precisely NO money - it's done for love of the subject. Scholarly foundations like Nebraska State Historical Society have paid my travel and accommodation expenses on trip to America connected to lectures and speaking engagements. Apart from the modest advance I received from Oklahoma for CRAZY HORSE, A LAKOTA LIFE I have received no other moneys in connection to my research and writing. While sales are healthy for my book for a title like this, it is as several posts indicate not on the bestsellers list. My hope for it has always been that it would help fund continued research and writing. To suggest that my sole reason for writing is MONEY & FAME is an outrageous slander - not the less outrageous for being so inadvertently hilarious. I don't expect or want an apology, Catherine, but you should gather the facts from as many sides of a question as possible before rushing into print (message board or otherwise) - a lesson that should be the first learnt by anyone working in history.
Which brings me to Catherine's statement that "For me oral history is key." Me too - as any reading of the Endnotes of my biography will show. Every page of text is pinned down by statements made by Lakota people. Some were made contemporary with the events described, some taken down by interviewers in the early 20th Century, some by people that I've consulted over the past decade or so. I privilege Lakota testimony because so much of it stacks up to make a coherent picture of Crazy Horse's life and times. It's vivid, first-hand, and accurate. But like any source it has to be weighed critically - just as I would assess a 'white' source, I have to analyse and filter the information - otherwise I'd be a hopeless failure as a historian. What you don't allow for, Catherine, is that other Lakota families have traditions, too, that don't always agree with each other. This is just the natural passing of time wearing down memory. But am I meant to accept one (in your example, the Clown family's beliefs regarding the Crazy Horse genealogy) at the expense of the other (in this case the descendants of Worm's half-brother Little Hawk)? I had to make a judgement call. Unfortunately what was already a very long book couldn't accommodate a lengthy explanation of my reasoning, which is the reason I posted my thoughts on Crazy Horse's genealogy on this website. I remain open to persuasion, but my belief remains this: that Clown family ancestor Julia Iron Cedar was the daughter of Corn and Red Leggings Woman - the latter being a sister of the two co-wives of Crazy Horse's father Worm. All three women were kin, perhaps cousins, to Rattle Blanket Woman (died 1844-5), the biological mother of Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse himself would have addressed Julia Iron Cedar as his younger sister. In the Lakota system of relationship, that is correct. In Euro-American terms she was his step-cousin. Recently (since completing my book) members of the Clown family have attempted to show that Worm and Red Leggings Woman's husband Woman's Breast are one and the same - therefore Julia and Crazy Horse would be full siblings. For the reasons adduced by Ephriam above, I think this is wrong. Worm died at Rosebud Reservation early in the 1880s, according to censuses and family oral tradition from that reservation - am I supposed to ignore that as Catherine criticises me for doing with the Clown traditions? Woman's Breast died at Cheyenne River early in the 20th Century. Personally, I don't think those contradictory statements can be harmonised - one has to be right, the other wrong. You know my belief - but I'm always open to genuinely new evidence to revise any and all interpretations. A message board like this should be a forum for such re-interpretation - not ad-hominem attacks. What I won't accept is being traduced as a rip-off merchant. My intellectual and much of my emotional/spiritual life have been dedicated to interpreting the history and culture of the native people of the plains. I count Lakota people among my friends and I won't be lectured to, or have my good faith be impugned, by people whose real knowledge of these matters is superficial at best
Post by kingsleybray on Dec 18, 2006 6:44:36 GMT -5
One more thing: I'm absolutely delighted about the DVD - again I had no knowledge of it until this sequence of messages. Let me wish all concerned every success with it, and be assured I'll be ordering my copy ASAP. Although my posting shows that I have differences of interpretation regarding aspects of Crazy Horse's genealogy, I have no doubts that the Clown family have important material to share with the world. Again, every success - in the world of Lakota and Crazy Horse studies, my attitude will remain The More the Merrier!
While on the unrelated topics of great albums, my vote for 2006 goes for BOB DYLAN, 'Modern Times'
Kingsley, thanks for the explanation of your research/editorial decisions. It was totally unnecessary for most but I can understand the decision to state your case.
By the way, after screaming in anguish over being unnecessarily awakened this morning, I had in mind to listen again to Dylan's "Modern Times" but for some reason decided at the last minute upon Paul Simon. Dylan is still on my listening list, especially later in the morning when I engage in some creative accounting, otherwise known as an expense report. I have listened to it twice already and each time I listen to it, I like it more. If you willing to listen to the best of 2005, may I recommend Van Morrison's "Magic Time."
It's interesting to read all this to allow us to put some of the comments into their proper context. From other boards, I was aware that some Lakota were p'd off that Kingsley's book presented a picture that didn't entirely agree with their own but I wasn't aware of the exact problem until now; nor was I aware of the 'dispute' between the two factions that I assume lies at the heart of all this. I am now and I appreciate being informed in a rather calm manner by clw, Ephriam and Kingsley himself after the somewhat inflammatory re-opening of this thread.
For what it's worth, I enjoyed the book and admire (and envy) the job he's been able to do.
I like Dylan's album too, but it's a bit like a Dylan album for the masses, perilously close to Empire Burlesque in the way he gives people what they they think a Dylan album should be. And if you can work out what that means, you're a better man than I am. Still, I'll be forking out the readies to see him next year - again!
I prefer Simon's 70s albums, but I like them all up to and including Graceland (and the bootleg MTV Unplugged show) and I have a sneaking suspicion that the new one is a far more important work than it's been given credit for.
Mr. Bray, thank you for your post. This is turning into a great discussion. Absolutely no disprepect intended, but this is driving me crazy and I have to ask...............
I remain open to persuasion, but my belief remains this: that Clown family ancestor Julia Iron Cedar was the daughter of Corn and Red Leggings Woman - the latter being a sister of the two co-wives of Crazy Horse's father Worm.
If Red Leggins is sister to [Iron Between Horns and Kills Enemy] the two co-wives of Waglula whom you state in your book were Corn's daughters (pg. 11), then how could Red Leggins produce a child with her own father? What am I missing?
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."....Will Rogers
Mr Bray, thank you for your post. I agree with clw the discussion starts to be interesting. Below is a direct answer to your previous post. This is from Cheyenne River. *************************************************************
i read it, you can respond; there is no viscious harm ever intended. if he was not informed he could meet with the family, well, to be honest, i feel for him. that would be Nebraska state historical issue, but we did call them, the family AND the brothers were interested in speaking with him. i have read parts of the book, and his informants either thru ignorance, or deciet or whatever....I AM NOT ACCUSING ANY ONE OF ANYTHING.......got it wrong. there was a reason why the family did not come out before hand. there is a very valid reason. but his refusal, or thru his own ignorance of not searching out the family, lends every one to say what was said. CH was from here, his family is STILL here, haven't gone any where. but they won't talk to just any one. many years ago, back in 90 or so, one of the family did do things for his own personal gain, that member of the family has been disowned, and his information he sold was not factual. that member also set up another into believing he was a member of the family when in fact he was not, and that person has been in court with the family, desperatly holding on to what is not there. it matters not how long he took in putting his book together. he got info that was incorrect, and the family is still here, he never talked to any one that could set him straight. here on this rez would have been virtually a one stop for his book, but he chose for what ever reason to ignore it. and the family is just plain tired of white men trying to write about them, and they get it soooo wrong. yes, with these facts, to us, he does look like a fool. we had been told he knew the DVD was coming out, and to go ahead and publish, knowing this information, to us here, yes it does seem as he is only after money. so often white man has done this in the past, and people are just tired of it now whether the information we got is correct or not, matters not. the family is very visible here. you don't need to feel bad, you can respond to mr. brey if you desire. miscommunication has always been a problem between the rez and the outside world. just as we were told he was to be at another function in Nebraska, and he wasn't there to meet with us. Maybe WE are getting the wrong information also, i wouldn't doubt it nor be suprised. but what was said is because of what i have just told you. we don't mean no one harm, just we want the real truth known, not any speculation, because speculation is not needed, we have ALL the information, it is a family. by the way, i have a copy of the family tree, there are in the neighborhood of 3000 people on it.