Crazy Horse Malt Liquor interview 11 July 2019
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor interview 11 July 2019
Peter: I’m here interviewing a surviving full bottle of Crazy Horse malt liquor. Brought onto the market in 1992, Crazy Horse was not quite an instant hit. After all these years, here is what Crazy Horse malt liquor has to say for himself.
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: It all began with Dancing with Wolves, you know, the movie. The good folks at Hornell Brewing Co. in Baltimore, MD, decided it was an excellent way to memorialize all of the great Indian Chiefs of the First Nations, made famous in television and the movies by naming malt liquors after them.
Peter: How was this a good idea? Are Native Americans big fans of malt liquor?
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: Well, you have to remember Dancing with Wolves put the Native American in the public eye. It was a top-rated movie, and it did get a lot of people interested in Indian Chiefs.
Peter: And so, it was a good idea to name a malt liquor after these Indian Chiefs?
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: Of course, any publicity is good publicity. As it says right here on the bottle, this is the ultimate in handcrafted malt liquor. “Crazy Horse is brewed with 100% of the finest barley and hops.” I’m also proud to say that I am exclusive “Lot #0690711” it says so on all Crazy Horse bottles! And right at the bottom of the label, we all proudly post “Product of America.”
And right here on the back, it explains everything for anyone interested in Native American history “The Black Hills of Dakota, steeped in the history of the American West, home of proud Indian nations. A land where imagination conjures up images of blue-clad pony soldiers and magnificent Native American Warriors. A land still rutted with wagon tracks of intrepid pioneers. A land where willful winds whisper of sitting bull, Crazy Horse and Custer. A land of character, of bravery, of tradition. A brand that truly speaks of the spirit that is America”.
Peter: You believe that “history lesson”? Isn’t a malt liquor for folks drinking for “effect” rather than relaxation?
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: Oh no, when you drink Crazy Horse malt liquor, it gives you a chance to contemplate those images of blue-clad pony soldiers and magnificent Native American Warriors.
Peter: As I understand it, from actually reading history, those two groups did not make for good friends. The blue-clad pony soldiers were out there to slaughter “Magnificent Native American Warriors”… Isn’t that true?
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: That’s not what it says on my bottle! I am the embodiment of the true spirit that is America!
Peter: Well, perhaps I could understand things better if you gave me an idea of what life was like back in 1992. Then, maybe I can put what you have said in context.
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: Well, let’s see, there was that incident in California. Something called “Rodney King.” I think it was some sort of trouble that lasted for almost a week and caused about a billion dollars in damages. Of course, there was an election year. In July, the Democratic National Convention nominated Bill Clinton for president of the United States on behalf of the “Forgotten Middle Class.” Most of the attention was drawn by hurricane Andrew which hit Florida and Louisiana and tore another hole in the southern states. I guess that was the biggest news. Oh yes, Bill Clinton did get elected president.
Peter: I understand, but none of that is an excuse to market a slightly offensive alcoholic beverage if the name of Native American Indians. Will you at least agree to that?
Crazy Horse Malt Liquor: No Sir, I won’t, because as it says right here on the bottle, I truly speak the spirit that it to the soul that is America I am a product of America!
Peter: OK, take it easy, don’t get too excited, I’m pretty much through, so… You have a nice day and take it easy. I appreciate chatting with you, and thank you for the significant insights you have imparted.
Fact-Checking: Malt Liquor Goes Crazy
“Don Vultaggio and John Ferolito found a way to offend a whole new minority. Inspired by the film, “Dances with Wolves,” they launched Crazy Horse Malt Liquor in March of 1992. Under the name of Hornell Brewing Co., they sold more than 1 million cases in the first year.”
“Native Americans in general and the descendants of Chief Crazy Horse, in particular, were not flattered. This homage to the Old West triggered bad press, a boycott, state and federal legislative initiatives to ban the brew, and a lawsuit that dragged on for years.”
“Native Americans spoke out about the long history of their battle with alcohol and their reverence for Crazy Horse himself. In thoughtful letters, their leaders appealed to Vultaggio’s and Ferolito’s better nature. But if the pair had one between them, no one could find it.”
“They’re so callous about it; they don’t see it,” said Phyllis Tousey Frederick, national coordinator of the Crazy Horse Defense Project. “They say it’s your opinion that you’re offended.'”
“On the other hand, Lawrence I. Fox, an attorney for Hornell Brewing Co., said of Crazy Horse’s descendants, “They talk about the principle, but what they want is the cash.”
1st Crazy Horse defendant settles malt liquor lawsuit
“With seven horses, 32 blankets, some tobacco and sweetgrass — and an apology — a brewery is settling with American Indians who sued over its marketing of Crazy Horse malt liquor.”
“Seth H. Big Crow Sr. of Parmelee, administrator of the Crazy Horse estate, said John Stroh III, chairman of SBC Holdings Inc., was to read a letter of apology to descendants of the 19th-century warrior and other American Indians during a ceremony Thursday in Mission.”
“The settlement includes 32 Pendleton blankets, 32 braids of sweet grass, 32 twists of tobacco, and seven thoroughbred racehorses. It does not include money.”
“The apology is the most important thing to the Lakota people, Big Crow said in an interview.”
“Crazy Horse Malt Liquor was distributed in 32 states and manufactured at seven breweries, said Christina Kirk-Kazhe of San Francisco, a lawyer for the estate.”
“We’ve always felt that this case hasn’t been just about the money, Kirk-Kazhe said.”
“George Kuehn of Detroit, SBC’s lawyer, said his client is thrilled it can resolve this matter in a way that is fair and, more importantly, culturally significant to the estate.”
“Big Crow said Thursday that most of the 2-year-old horses in the settlement would go to the tribes that helped us out with the legal case.”
“Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux warrior who led the defeat of Lt. Gen. George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.”
“The lawsuit continues against another company, Hornell Brewing of Brooklyn, N.Y. Hornell accused of using the Crazy Horse name without permission.”
“The dispute began in 1992 when Hornell bottled “The Original Crazy Horse Malt Liquor.” In 1993, Crazy Horse’s descendants sued Hornell in tribal court, but appellate courts ruled the case belonged in federal jurisdiction.”