Chief Roy Crazy Horse, the leader of the Powhatan Renape Nation, died on Nov. 11. Cause of death was not released. He was 79.
Born in Camden, N.J., Crazy Horse lied about his age in order to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. After returning from the South Pacific, he graduated from high school and attended Temple University and La Salle College.
Crazy Horse became chief of the Powhatan Renape Nation, an American Indian Nation and non-profit entity, in 1972. As the executive director and spiritual leader of the Powhatan, Crazy Horse defended the rights of American Indians and publicly criticized the mythology surrounding portrayals of Indians in popular media. He wrote several books on the history of native peoples, including “Morrisville: A Hidden Native Community,” “Holocaust of the American Indians,” “A Brief History of the Powhatan Renape Nation” and “North American Genocide.” He taught classes on Indian studies at Rowan University and lectured at several universities.
Crazy Horse established the Rankokus American Indian Reservation on 225 acres in Rancocas State Park in 1982. Since he was able to trace his tribe’s roots back to the people of the Powhatan Confederacy in Virginia, the state of New Jersey agreed to rent the land for 25 years. The reservation hosts a biannual American Indian Arts Festival and remains open to visitors who tour its heritage museum, art gallery and outdoor exhibits.
Crazy Horse was appointed by Gov. Christie Whitman to the Commission on Discrimination in State Employment and Contracting in 2000. He also served as the chairman of the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs.