Crazy Horse, the Lakota Warrior, and his Coyote

June 26, 2016 | We Learn | Story by Judee Shipman

Most people have heard of Crazy Horse, the great Lakota warrior, but many people are unaware that Crazy Horse had a dog (as the story goes!).

More specifically, Crazy Horse had a pet coyote.

A coyote looks rather like a hungry German Shepherd, and moves in many curious ways. Crazy Horse may have found it as a youthful pup on a mountain top somewhere. Or maybe he fed it a few times and it followed him home. Or maybe its mother died. Who knows? In any case, the coyote would typically sleep outside the Crazy Horse lodge, aiming its nose at the moon and howling. Following each successful hunt, Crazy Horse managed to sneak a slice of fresh bison to his pet coyote. Some among the villagers might have (almost) scolded him if they’d caught him. Coyotes were creatures you pelted with rocks to keep them away from the meat. But Crazy Horse was already a highly respected hunter and warrior, even at the age of seventeen.

“He once single-handedly caught ten bison before sunset, using nothing but a bow and a bag of arrows.”

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He once single-handedly caught ten bison before sunset, using nothing but a bow and a bag of arrows. He had already saved the life of his cousin in battle. He even once saved his brother from a bear. His warring skills, hunting prowess, courage and generosity knew no equal. Crazy Horse brought food and horses, then gave it all away. The villagers found it strange to have a coyote wandering among them, but out of respect for Crazy Horse, they let it be. This coyote was Crazy Horse’s pet, as loyal and playful as a pampered family dog. When the meat was held high, the creature would stand on its hind legs and hop from foot to foot like a ceremonial dancer.

If anyone asked, Crazy Horse pretended he had no idea why he was being followed around camp by a dancing coyote.

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