As some of you might be aware, almost a year ago, I began researching what became of the two most important women in Crazy Horse’s life, after his murder – Black Buffalo Woman, and Black Shawl. It has been an arduous quest that has, so far, yielded only tantalizing clues.
Unfortunately, my research reached an electronic road-block when I discovered that the critical first nine years of Census Records (1877-1885) at the National Archives have either not been digitized or not been made available on the Internet. This meant I could only proceed further by physically visiting NARA at Kansas City, to examine the original records.
I had planned to make this visit in the Summer of 2021, but the best laid plans of mice and men…. First, the Covid19 pandemic shut NARA as well as international travel down. Secondly, I was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, requiring a total colectomy, followed by chemotherapy. Between these two exciting events, my summer travels have been laid to rest! So, it will probably have to wait for the summer of 2022…..ah, well!
Meanwhile, I happened on another promising avenue of enquiry, which I thought simply had to yield results – the Ration Tickets for the Reservation families. These should certainly have featured the women I am looking for, as they would certainly have drawn rations. As these tickets, too, had to be examined physically, I was very lucky to receive the generous, patient and expert assistance of NARA Archivist, Stephen Spence. When they were allowed back into NARA, after many months of covid-enforced closure, he promptly looked into these for me, without missing a beat. Sadly, he discovered there are very few Ration Tickets remaining, from that period, and none that pertain to our ladies. So, that brought that line of inquiry to a sad end, despite Stephen’s encouragement and support.
So, now, I am left with (a) two possible Black Shawls – one who married, had children and lived at Cheyenne River; or one who lived with her mother at Pine Ridge, till she died; so, which one is the real Black Shawl? and (b) so far, no trace of Black Buffalo Woman at all. Of course, the census rolls of those critical 9 years from Crazy Horse’s surrender onwards hold the key.
Another anomaly is the fact that Black Shawl does not appear in the Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger. So, where was she at the time of Crazy Horse’s surrender? It is likely that she was with his father, Waglula, and came to Pine Ridge after Crazy Horse had settled in. However, this needs to be verified from the records, if possible.
So, there my searches stand as of now – seemingly hauntingly close to a solution, but still just beyond reach for the moment!