The Crazy Mountains, also known as ‘Awaxaawippia by the Apsaalooka or Crow tribe’ are a relatively small mountain range in Montana. Due to their height (up to 3418m) and dominating location on a plain they appear almost as an a rocky island. Conditions in the Crazy Mountains are more arid than the surroundings and thus the slopes are less forested. On a hike you can spot herds of mountain goats and an occasional wolverine. However, since most of the land is located on private property there are only few access roads and the southern portion of the range has no roads at all.
It is not completely certain how the name Crazy Mountains derived. One theory is that it has to do with the strange or crazy geology of the region: new igneous intrusions of the mountain range do not show any similarities with other mountains ranges (the Rockies and Yellowstone) in the region. Some sources say that after a woman lost her family she secluded herself in the Crazy mountains and went insane. On the other hand, to this day the Crazies are an important location (if not the most important on the Great Plains) for the vision quest of the Crow, native tribe living in southeastern Montana. In a vision quest a person secludes themselves from society for days, weeks or months by retreating into the mountains or forests in the hope of obtaining a spirit power. There is a story of chief Plenty Coups, a Crow chief. When he was a little boy, Plenty Coups went on a vision quest in the Crazy Mountains . It is told that he cut off his finger and had a vision. In his vision he saw himself coming out of a crack at the town of Pryor Montana, about 200km away. While moving through the below world he saw thousands of buffalo that lived underground. This is why among the Crow buffalo seem to have a connection to the lower world and are commonly encountered during a vision quest. For Plenty Coups this vision marked the end of the Plains Indian way of life.
Image: Copyright James Woodcock. The image shows the Crazy Mountains with a lenticular cloud, a lens shaped cloud that forms at high altitudes.
Tim McCleary. 2007. The stars we know: Crow Indian Astronomy and Lifeways.