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Native American Literature


Bruchac, Joseph. Crazy Horse’s Vision. New York: Lee & Low Books, Inc., 2000. ISBN: 1-880000-94-6.


Crazy Horse’s Vision is an enchanting children’s book that takes the reader through the mystical life of Crazy Horse, a Lakota leader.  The plot focuses on how Crazy Horse got his name after a vision he had.  In the vision a man floating on a horse through rain and hail gave him an unspoken message. 

“Bruchac is an award winning storyteller, writer, editor, and author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and folktales, and legends.” (Harris, p. 170)  Crazy Horse’s Vision is no exception to the quality of his work.  It is written in simple text appropriate for children ages 5 through 9.  Children of the Lakota people will be proud to share the life of one of their heroes with children of other cultures.

It gives us many paradigms of the way the Lakota people live.  The book shows the process that the Lakota people use to give names to their children.  A child gets a name appropriate for him/her when he is born.  In the case of Crazy Horse, his first name was Curly because his hair was curly.  Before becoming an adult the child is then given another name; a name that resembles the interests, merits, and accomplishments of that child.  After Crazy Horse discussed his vision with his father, he is given the name Tashunka Witco which means Crazy Horse. 

The author shows the spiritual believes and rituals of the Lakota with great respect.  He emphasizes the importance of the tribe and of the elders in several instances.  For example, Crazy Horse’s father questions Crazy Horse’s decision to seek a vision without the guidance of the elders. 

At the end of the book the author includes a note that explains the facts given in the story and how he used them to give more interest to the story.  

The illustrator also gives his explanations on the illustration’s ideas, techniques, and choice of color.  The story is enhanced with the beautiful illustrations of the Lakota Indians. The attractive vibrant figures placed against pastel color backgrounds make the illustrations very attractive to children.  In his note the illustrator explains the meaning of the colors to the Lakota people.  “For example, red represents the east where each day begins with the rising of the sun.  Yellow represents the south, summer, and where things grow.  I painted Crazy Horse blue because blue represents the sky and a connection with the spirit world.”  After reading this, the reader can look back at the illustration to gain a better understanding of the story and the believes and traditions of the Lakota people.



Harris, Violet J. Using Multiethnic Literature in the K-8 Classroom.  Massachusetts, Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc., 1997.