Many were shocked by George Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn. After all, the flamboyant general had supposedly once said, "there are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry." But perhaps among those not surprised were his former teachers at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated dead last in his class of 1861.
The commercialization of "the West" began almost before the dust settled. After the Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull fled to Canada. He returned to the United States in 1881, was confined first at Fort Randall and then at the Standing Rock Agency. But when the Northern Pacific Railroad opened in September 1884, he was sent to Bismarck to participate in the ceremonies along with former President Ulysses S. Grant. En route, he sold his autograph from the back of the wagon transporting him. The next year he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Crowds came to boo and hiss "the man who killed Custer," and then they bought his autograph.26
Helping found the Society of American Indians may have been Henry Standing Bear's most significant political contribution. But his most visible legacy is the Crazy Horse Monument, the 560' by 640' work-in-progress in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a few miles down the road from the more famous Mount Rushmore. Henry Standing Bear conceived the project and spent almost a decade convincing sculptor Korzcak Ziolkowski to undertake the mammoth task.27