After 19 years, the 2016 ride was stronger than ever for many participants covering the 90mile trek. The Lakota kids love the ride and it's simply because they love their horses, veterans, and Crazy Horse to this day is remembered during the 5-day event. Near 200 riders finished the 19th annual event in honor of Crazy Horse and the modern day veterans.
This year sponsorships were definitely at the lowest but the spirit of the riders was at its highest. Other obstacles included the extreme heat with the high 80’s on the first day and the rest of the ride in the higher 90’s. It was a hot experience, and if it wasn’t for the supporters in trucks bringing water to the riders, we may have had a lot more dehydration issues. The support that comes from unity of the people in need is overwhelming sight; basically the people really come together when it comes down to our Tunkasila Tasunke Witko. Looking back after the ride there are some spots we will definitely improve for next year. Those youth riders are extremely dedicated to this ride after a long school year. This is one event that is truly a popular must attend for many kids of the Great Lakota Nation.
War Drum, a Spirit Horse healing
On the 10th year of the Crazy Horse Ride there was an inipi ceremony held at the Crazy Horse camp in Beaver Valley north of Hay Springs, Nebraska. In that ceremony it was said that we were to bring a spirit horse into the ride, we were told it was a very rare honor, Crazy Horse has asked for a horse. The next morning, we circled up and prepared to start the prayer, they brought in that spirit horse and it got real silent. That year there were 270 riders. It was an experience that sticks way out there, that time was truly special. In between now and then there were a total of 4 different spirit horses. There were a couple of years when we didn’t take a spirit horse. It was the fourth time we lead a spirit horse that “War Drum” was offered. He was held out of entering the Pow-wow arbor by security in the final ending prayer, he was done outside the arbor in the field over by the old rodeo grounds. The next year the pow-wow grounds were completely destroyed by snow storms.
This year the veterans' new pow-wow committee ok’d us to bring in the spirit horse “War Drum” and asked that he bring his blessing. The Spirit Horses are healers and they are like a magnet helping PTSD conditions of our returning veterans, sickness, diseases, trauma, drug and alcohol additions, and they replace that with positive energy, health, unity, peace and just good healthy living. Whatever hurts will be helped and healed for our veterans and the whole oyate.
It was about 7:30 pm when we made it to Pine Ridge with around 200 riders. The Pow-wow grounds were occupied by security and onlookers. Our Crazy Horse Ride Eyapaha Wade Broken Nose rode ahead as we were coming through town and rode up to the security gate and told them in Lakota “There are 14 tiospaye coming and they are bringing a spirit horse with Crazy Horse with them, open the gate”. One of the security officers signaled to open the gates. After that we proceeded onto the main walking area around the outside of the arbor. After a complete circle we were ready to enter the east gate. You could feel the intensity within the people who were now a good size crowd.
All staff carriers dismounted from their horses, and prepared to enter the Pow-wow arena. A good sized crowd lingered around that east gate entrance to the pow-wow arbor. The Marines Devil Dogs Security was standing at the gate, they took their jobs seriously. Some of these guys were Desert Storm veterans and had road block duty back in the war. They came forward with a gentle posture; they knew we were only there to simply say, “Thank you for your service”. We were bringing a blessing and a healing to help them have peace and to also be honored. Barry Bettleyoun, Iraqi war veteran was one of the security guards. He had sage and was ready to help smudge the grounds. Barry smudged us and we headed into the pow-wow arena. It was then that you could feel the presents more than ever of a very special warrior. We started to lead the horse around to the left clockwise; the arbor is big down there so we thought one big circle would be enough. Soon as we started the message could be felt, “I am here now, warriors be at rest, you are home now. Stay close to your family and help your people, they look up to you.” “Always remember you are a Lakota warrior.” The horse began his dance and screamed to all the directions, and to the oyate, the drum group played a Victory song that seemed to go good with the way the horse moved. All this while outside the arbor 200 youth riders circled the Daniel Stands Arena. Tears of sadness, happiness, healing and pride could be felt in the crowd. To the west the Thunder beings lite up the sky.
The circle was completed and War Drum stood in the center. Once again no words needed to be said that evening. Simply the song and horse in the middle would be enough to help heal the wounds of war, and bring a smile to our veterans who were down there on that very special evening. Soon as the Pow-wow was over, Sunday night the Thunder beings brought a good cleansing of rain. It was a good weekend. The Spirit of Crazy Horse is still amongst his warriors of the new and older generations. It was the youth of the Great Lakota Nation who rode the 90 miles in the hot 90 degree heat to bring this blessing.
Crazy Horse Ride Sponsorship
We would like to say a big thank you to our sponsors of the Holy Buffalo Society 2016 Crazy Horse Ride: Linda and Tad King of Omaha Nebraska, One Spirit and Jeri Baker and Lisa Knouff and all staff, Richard “Scheecha” Greenwald and Pine Ridge Village, A&A Program Rachel Bissonette, Zen Leford, Singing Horse Trading Post Rosie Freier, Jumping Eagles Inn Stewart Kozal, Abes Western Outlet, Jason Swarting at the First Bar, Martin Peltier at VJ’s, Cathy Hewitt Photography, Terry Little Whiteman, Pauletta Red Willow, Lisa Schrader Cougar den, Tiny Decory at Sweet Grass and the Bear Cave, Mike Markus “Rusty Nail” Trucking, Crawford Nebraska, Dixie Lees Dixie Chicks, City of Chadron Nebraska, Wal-Mart, Lion’s club of Chadron.
We wouldn’t have been able to get through all our obstacles without you. May the Great Spirit bless all your trails in life and also have a great year.