In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
by Joseph Marshall

Illustrated by James Mark Yellowhawk

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources

Author Information:

Joseph Marshall website (read all of the welcome):                                               

Joseph Marshall bio:

Quotes by Joseph Marshall:

OSEU one interview with Joseph Marshall – Land as free as the air (7:24):

OSEU two interview with Joseph Marshall – bows and a variety of culture (5:08):

OSEU three interview with Joseph Marshall – Lakota everyday (2:36)

OSEU four interview with Joseph Marshall – Mitakuye Oyasin (3:29):

OSEU five interview with Joseph Marshall – Who gets to tell the story (4:02):

OSEU interview with Joseph Marshall – Indian law before and after (3:32):

OSEU interview with Joseph Marshall – Saving language and culture (2:04):

Illustrator Information:

James Mark Yellowhawk:

James Yellowhawk gallery:

Activities & Resources:


Lakota stories:

Learn and tell a Lakota story from the above site.

Learn and hear the Lakota alphabet:

Biographies and pictures of the Lakota chiefs:

Lakota traditions:

Lakota Moon Calendar:

Rosebud Reservation:

Lakota Skillet bread or Gabubu:

Make skillet bread using the above website and recipe.

Cholera facts:

Frostbite information:

Create a project to help people at a retirement community.

Oregon Trail map and information:

Map out every place mentioned in the book.

Who do you look like? Look through your family photos to see which relative or ancestor you look like. Interview family members to find out if you have any of that relatives other character traits.  Which relative do you walk like, etc.?

The genetics of eye color:

MakerSpace Activities:

How to make a tepee diaorama (8:36)

Have an arrow shooting contest.

Using the website below students can make what is a modified bow and arrow. The foam arrow launches off a meter stick using rubber bands. Students project different angles of launch to see which degree will give the right amount of arc to hit a target. Safe and easy to make.

Foam rocket launcher:

Photo of the covered wagon that goes with the following 2 templates:

Template to make the wagon:

Template to make the cover:

Discussion Questions:

Indians are usually given a name because of a great deed or feat. If you were given a name this way what would your name be and why?

Jimmy is three parts Lakota and one part Scottish. His mom says his three Lakota parts are hidden inside. His one white part is on the outside. What does this mean and is this a good description?

Corky says Jimmy is an Indian pretending to be white. If Jimmy really looks white then what is Corky really saying? Do you think he really means the reverse? Explain.

Why does it infuriate Jesse that Jimmy can speak Lakota when he, Jesse, can’t?

Jimmy feels accepted among the trees, grasses, birds and rabbits. Where do you go to feel accepted and why?

Jimmy poked in the grasses with a long stick to scare away snakes. Does this work? Would you be afraid of doing this and finding a snake? His grandpa taught him that. Name something your grandpa passed down to you.

Jimmy learns he looks like Crazy Horse. How would you feel if you learned you looked like someone you looked up to? Would it change the way you act? How so?

Crazy Horse was called Light Hair when he was younger. Is this cruel or just a description? Defend your answer.

Bear Butte got its name because from the south it looked like a bear lying on its stomach. Find something in your area and rename it according to what it looks like.

Bear Butte was a sacred place to pray for the Lakotas. Do we also have sacred places? What makes a place sacred?

Why does Grandpa Nyles offer pipe tobacco to the four directions at the top of Bear Butte?

Grandpa Nyles told stories about the things he and Jimmy saw. Coyotes, crows, etc. Who in your family is the storyteller? Ask them to tell you one of the old stories from your history.

Grandpa Nyles says animals and people used to understand each other. If you could talk to an animal which would it be and what would you say?

If an animal could talk to you what would it say or ask you?

Light Hair’s father had two wives at the same time. Why?

The Moon of Leaves Turning Color is the name of a month. Moon is the word the Lakota use for month. If months are named using descriptors, rename our months.

Light Hair and his companions saw a village burning and were shocked into not moving. Have you ever been shocked so badly you could not move? Explain.

Why are the white soldiers called Long Knives?

Whites considered Indians savages and Indians said whites were mean people -if they were people at all. Soldiers attack men, women and children. Who do you believe is correct, the whites or the Indians? Is it possible they are both right and both wrong? Should whole groups of people be defined by the actions of a few? Explain.

Why would the Long Knives take the women and children north when they usually just kill everyone?

Eventually the Long Knives let the women and children go? Why?

In describing how the Indians felt seeing thousands of wagons on the Oregon Trail, Jimmy’s grandfather compared it to Jimmy seeing hundreds of flying saucers today. Is this a good comparison? Explain.

The people of the Oregon Trail left their trash behind. What do Indians do with their own trash?

Why did the people of the Oregon Trail try to force the Lakota off their own land?

One of Light Hair’s mothers is named  “They Are Afraid of Her.” What does that tell you about her? How do you think she got this name?

The white men want the Indians to promise to leave them alone because they are afraid of them. This is why the white peace talkers invited all the tribes to come to Fort Laramie. Does it seem strange that a few white men would try to tell thousands of Indians to leave them alone?

According to the Indians it was always the wagon people who started the trouble. What does this tell you about the white men and tolerance?

Light Hair stole the Long Knives horses just to annoy them. Was this a smart move? What would you have done? Do you think this was a game to Light Hair? Do you think he thought through the consequences of his actions?

Did the Indians have the right to kill the skinny cow that wandered into the village knocking things over? Explain.

Why didn’t the soldier consider several mules a fair trade for the skinny cow? Do you think it was a fair trade? Do you believe the soldier was trying to start trouble? Explain.

Is a cow worth dying over? Was the lieutenant being brave or foolish? Explain.

The Lakota did not trust the white people. The white people were loud and quick to anger and eager to shoot their weapons at the Lakota. Is this a good character trait for a person or a soldier or someone with a weapon? Explain.

Crazy Horse is to lead a ambush. He didn’t want a battle but it was a necessary way to defeat the Long Knives. Do you agree? Explain.

Every man was afraid. Most would not admit that to anyone but themselves. Why not? Would you?

Part of being a warrior was facing their fears. That was called courage. How do you face your fears? Give examples.

Was Crazy Horse brave or foolish to stop in the middle of battle and scrape the ice off his horse’s hooves? Debate this.

Crazy Horse cried like a baby when his childhood friend, Lone Bear, died. What does this tell you about Crazy Horse?

Grandpa Nyles leaves a bundle of gray sage wrapped in red cloth on the largest rock near the tall stone monument commemorating the Battle of One Hundred Hands. Why do people leave things on monuments and graves? What would you leave and why?

Grandpa Nyles says we should never forget the Indian warriors but we have to remember the soldiers kindly, too. Is it unusual to remember the fallen on both sides of a battle? Why? Is this a good thing? Do we need to understand both sides of a war? Why?

Grandpa Nyles calls Crazy Horse a reluctant hero and leader. Crazy Horse just wanted to be a good man and a good warrior. What makes a person a good man? A good warrior? What does it mean to be humble? Why is this an important trait for a leader?

The ‘cool’ thing Crazy Horse did was to supply meat for the old people and the widows without being told to. His parents taught him to take care of the helpless ones. Jimmy says he can do that. How can we take care of the helpless today?

The Lakota people were taught to be generous. Are we taught this today? What actions do we take that show we are generous?

Crazy Horse decides it is better to live under the control of the whites and stick together and get through it somehow instead of fighting because no one would be able to take care of the helpless if they didn’t. Do you agree with this decision? Are there alternatives?

Jimmy has the strange feeling he should be quiet or talk only in a whisper when at the Little BigHorn Battlefield. Why ? Have you ever been somewhere and felt that way? Explain.

Jimmy can’t figure out why white people build a monument to remember a battle they lost? Why do we do this?

Jimmy’s grandfather says there was no last stand at the Little Big Horn. We see history differently. How can people on two different sides of a war see history and facts differently? Explain.

The Lakota became a strong nation and controlled a large territory because they had horses. How so? How would their lives be different without them?

Crazy Horse had a dream that he would not be hurt. Do you believe in dreams? Have they ever come true for you? Explain.

After the last battle the women went into the battlefield to find their fallen loved ones. They were so angry they mutilated the fallen enemies they came across. Is this still done in war today and how do you feel about it?

The Lakota women have a saying, ‘Have courage and be the first to charge the enemy, for it is better to lie a warrior naked in death than it is to turn away from the battle.’

What does this mean and do you agree?

Grandpa Nyles says courage was a warrior’s best weapon. How so?

Grandpa Nyles says that courage is facing the scary things no matter how afraid you are, including things that happen to you anywhere. What is he alluding to?

The words on the monument attributed to Crazy Horse say, ‘We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours…We did not interfere with you. We do not want your civilization.’ This is part of manifest destiny. Do you agree that you can’t have a home and also take someone elses. Explain.

The message of the people left in the camp after the Greasy Grass Fight was, ‘Do not forget what happened here.’ Why is it important to not forget?

Grandpa Nyles believes the bravest thing Crazy Horse ever did was give his horse and rifle to White Hat Clark and surrender. Why does he believe this?

While living on the reservation the whites were afraid Crazy Horse would lead an uprising against them. The indians were jealous of him and afraid he would be made a bureau chief over them. Why would the Indians be jealous instead of thankful?

The whites wanted to send him to a prison in Florida so he couldn’t make trouble. Was this legal back then? Is it legal today? Can you think of instances where this is still done today?

Crazy Horse was killed because a soldier misunderstood the situation. Compare this to what is going on today with the shootings in our country.

When Jimmy returns to school he is no longer afraid of Corky and Hesse. They can see it in his eyes. Do you believe you can see one’s beliefs in one’s eyes? Explain.

Book Talk Teasers:

Read the readers theater.

Have a discussion on if it is possible to be both a great warrior and a man of peace.

Read Alikes:

Realistic Fiction, Indians of North America and Culturally Diverse:

Bruchac, Joseph. The warriors. As a member of the lacrosse team and of the Iroquois heritage, Jake knows how sacred the game is, but when he moves to a boarding school and plays for their team, he finds that Coach Scott is feeding untruths to his team about the game. (NoveList)

Flood, Bo. Soldier sister, fly home. Half-Navajo, half-white sisters Tess and Gaby are separated when Gaby drops out of college to join the army. Now as Gaby is deployed to Iraq, she asks Tess to care for Blue, the spirited horse that Tess dislikes. Tess struggles with her identity and with missing her sister, and she decides to spend the summer with her grandmother at sheep camp where tragedy strikes. (NoveList)

Realistic Fiction, Indians of North America, Culturally Diverse, and Grandfather and Grandson:

Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Indian shoes. Together with Grampa, Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, finds creative and amusing solutions to life’s challenges. (NoveList)

Realistic Fiction, and Grandfather and Grandson:

Avi. The most important thing. Explores the vital ties between fathers and sons, sharing tales of a boy who seeks to understand the wishes of his father’s ghost and a boy who makes surprising discoveries while camping with the eccentric grandfather he just met. (NoveList)

Butterworth, W. E. LeRoy and the old man. Fleeing from a neighbor’s assailants, who believe he has identified them to police, LeRoy leaves his Chicago housing project to live with his grandfather, a shrimp fisherman, in Mississippi. When the Chicago police come for him, LeRoy must decide if he is going to risk his life testifying. (NoveList)

Christopher, Matt. Long-arm quarterback. Twelve-year-old Cap Wadell wants to play on a “real” football team, but his middle school in a small Texas town does not have enough players–until his grandfather revives interest in the game of six-man football. (NoveList)

Duffey, Betsy. Utterly yours, Booker Jones. Middle school student and aspiring author Booker Jones is evicted from his bedroom when his grandfather moves in, creating problems both at home and at school. (NoveList)

French, Simon. Where in the world. When Ari and his mother leave their home in Germany for a new life and family in Australia, he parts from the grandfather who taught him to play violin, but finds that his music and memories are intertwined. (NoveList)

Gebhart, Ryan. There will be bears. Sneaking his roughneck grandfather out of a nursing home so that they can share an elk-hunting trip, thirteen-year-old Tyson ventures into the Grand Tetons only to discover that his grandfather may not be healthy enough for the journey. (NoveList)

Park, Barbara. The graduation of Jake Moon. Fourteen-year-old Jake recalls how he has spent the last four years of his life watching his grandfather descend slowly but surely into the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease. (NoveList)

Tomey, Ingrid. Nobody else has to know. Fifteen-year-old Webber must either live with guilt or tell the truth about who was driving his grandfather’s car when it struck and seriously injured a little girl. (NoveList)

Realistic Fiction, Indians of North America, and Grandfather and Grandson:

Gardiner, John Reynolds. Stone Fox. Little Willy hopes to pay the back taxes on his grandfather’s farm with the purse from a dog sled race he enters. (NoveList)

Realistic Fiction and Indians of North America:

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Eagle feather. When the cruel cousin he has been working for refuses to let him leave at the end of the summer, a young Navajo boy runs away to rejoin his family and go to school. (NoveList)

Jones, Kimberly. Sand dollar summer. When twelve-year-old Lise spends the summer on an island in Maine with her self-reliant mother and bright–but oddly mute–younger brother, her formerly safe world is complicated by an aged Indian neighbor, her mother’s childhood friend, and a hurricane. (NoveList)

Mikaelson, Ben. Ghost of spirit bear. After a year in exile on an Alaskan island as punishment for severely beating a fellow student, Cole Matthews returns to school in Minneapolis having made peace with himself and his victim–but he finds that surviving the violence and hatred of high school is even harder than surviving in the wilderness. (NoveList)

Nelson, S. D. Back Elk’s vision. Narrates the life of the Lakota Native American, providing first-person perspectives on such topics as his childhood visions, involvement in the battles of Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee, and contributions to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (NoveList)

O’Dell, Scott. Zia. A young Indian girl, Zia, caught between the traditional world of her mother and the present world of the Mission, is helped by her Aunt Karana whose story was told in The Island of the Blue Dolphins. (NoveList)

Biographies, Native American Indians, and Culture:

Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi, last of his tribe. A young Yahi Indian and his tribe struggle to save themselves and their culture from destruction by the white man. (NoveList)

Secakuku, Susan. Meet Mindy. Details a day in the life of an Arizona girl of Hopi descent, looking at her family, the history of her tribe, and some traditional ceremonies and customs that are still observed today. (NoveList)

Weber, EdNah New Rider. Rattlesnake mesa. Chronicles the childhood of EdNah New Rider Weber as she is moved from her Pawnee home to live with her father on a Navajo reservation and then is again uprooted and placed in the Phoenix Indian School. (NoveList)

Book Reviews:

Horn Book

Marshall, Joseph, III In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
165 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-0785-8
(4) 4–6 Illustrated by Jim Yellowhawk. Jimmy McClean is Lakota, but his father is half-Scottish and Jimmy is blonde and blue-eyed. His grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, helps Jimmy understand his native heritage on a modern-day road trip inspired by Crazy Horse’s life. Although Jimmy’s questions and comments are a clunky device for Grandpa to recount historical and biographical information, the Lakota author offers an authentic voice. Bib., glos.   From the Fall 2016 issue of The Horn Book Guide..   Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal

[STARRED].  MARSHALL, Joseph, III. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse. 176p. Abrams/Amulet. Nov. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419707858.

Gr 4-8–In this novel that seamlessly integrates Lakota history and oral tradition, Marshall takes readers along for a road trip with Jimmy and his maternal grandfather as they embark on a “vision journey,” visiting famous landmarks, monuments, and landscapes integral to the life of the great warrior and leader Crazy Horse. Jimmy, a young Lakota boy, struggles with fitting in on his reservation because he does not look like the other Lakota boys; he has light hair, blue eyes, and his father is of Scottish decent. Grandpa Nyles sees an opportunity to introduce Jimmy to another Lakota who had fair hair and light skin—the famous Crazy Horse. Over the course of their trip, Grandpa Nyles recounts history and stories about the life of the Lakota hero and the events that shaped him into a powerful leader, including famous battles and standoffs against the white settlers. Although many books have been written about Crazy Horse, Marshall transports readers back in time through Grandfather’s stories. Italicized passages covering Crazy Horse’s childhood, adolescence, and transformation into the famed Lakota symbol of courage and wisdom are distinguished from the modern-day narrative and achieve an immediacy and emotional resonance that most history books fail to capture. As the book progresses, Jimmy and readers learn about an important period of American history from the perspective of the Lakota; readers will walk away with the sober knowledge that in war, there are no winners. As Jimmy and his grandfather’s journey comes to an end, the boy has gained much more than a history lesson—he learns a great deal about courage, sacrifice, and the ties that connect him to his ancestors. VERDICT A moving narrative that should be required reading for all students of American history.–Amy Zembroski, Indian Community School, Franklin, WI.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.