Long Hair, (2) we needed rifles and your men brought us a lot.
Long Hair, we needed horses and your men brought us a lot.
(Lakota [Sioux] victory song)

Out west on the Greasy Grass the People’s village grew, (3)
Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and Gall’s Hunkpapa Sioux.
Seven thousand people strong, one summer long ago, (4)
Living in ancestral ways where cold, fast waters flow.

Then Long Hair’s men came riding west with rifles and long knives
To drive them from their prairie homes and their accustomed lives,
To live on reservations so the whites could take the land,
To die on reservations, unless they made a stand.

The People cried and three great men gave answer to their call,
The man of visions, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse and Gall.

A vision came to Sitting Bull, the white man’s troops would die.
Sitting Bull dreamed he saw white troops falling from the sky.
Long Hair’s men were close at hand. Were they what his dream meant?
When they came would his dream prove from Hell or Heaven sent?

Then Long Hair found the People’s tents and he refused to wait
For promised reinforcements, so he charged and met his fate.
Brave warriors of the People all hit him from every side.
The sun moved just one lodge pole and Long Hair’s men all died. (5)

Soon on the Northeast river bank a monument arose
To mark the place George Custer fell, a hero we suppose.
Five companies died with him but to most they’re nameless now,
Men who would scar the country for gold or with the plow.

We don’t hear much of heroes, those who won the fight that day,
Warriors of the People, passing time has borne away.
But when we pushed the People off of their ancestral land,
Outgunned, outmanned they fought us and, on that day, made a stand.

With Sitting Bull their holy man, and Crazy Horse and Gall
They fought for their own homeland and on that day they stood tall.
Tatanke Iotanke, Tashunke Witco, Phizi. (Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gall, in the Lakota language)

(1) The Greasy Grass is the Lakota (Sioux) name for what we call the Little Big Horn River in Montana.
(2) Long Hair was the Lakota name for Custer. Oddly, on that day, he had his hair cut short. The Indians were not initially sure whom they had fought and defeated.
(3) The village was mostly Sioux but some Arapaho and Cheyenne had also joined them.
(4) June 25, 1876
(5) About 45 minutes.

Stephen Baird, 2005-2023