Monday, October 1, 2012

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

We traveled 228 miles on Monday between Casper WY and Hardin MT. I like the colorful red roads in Wyoming.

We found an adequate RV park in Hardin, with the intention of touring the site of Custer's Last Stand. Though we've been there at least a couple of times in past years, we wanted to go again. We were pleased to discover that they now have a memorial to the Indians, Lakota and Cheyenne, who died in this battle, as well as the Cavalry soldiers. This is one headstone, dedicated to a Cheyenne Indian named Limber Bones.

The memorial is a a large circle of stones with artwork, dedications and names on plaques inside the ring. We loved this metal sculpture looking out over the plains. One quote from Crazy Horse, a Lakota, said, 
"We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours...We did not interfere with you...We do not want your civilization!"

Another new display, a tombstone for the faithful horses who were killed and buried at the site of the battle. So appropriate!

This is the memorial itself, with the names of all the 7th Cavalry soldiers who died here. A nearby plaque reads:
 "The remains of about 220 soldiers, scouts, and civilians are buried around the base of this memorial. The white marble headstones scattered over the battlefield denote where the slain troopers were found and originally buried. In 1881 they were reinterred in a single grave on this site. The officers' remains were removed in 1877 to various cemeteries throughout the country. General Custer was buried at West Point.

Gravestones are scattered throughout the area. This is where Custer fought, renamed Last Stand Hill, and it's just below the memorial in the photo above. Some of the other gravestones are at the site of the Reno-Benteen skirmishes, 5 miles away, with many others along the way. We watched a video inside the Visitor Center which showed the military strategies and what actually happened.

The area where all these battles took place is very beautiful at this time of year. The sun was right on the horizon to the west so I was surprised that some of my photos turned out fairly well. We are on the ridge looking down on the Little Bighorn River where all the Indian tribes were camped. We couldn't see the river from here because all the trees in the photo are along the banks of the winding river, hiding it from view from this angle. At the time of the Battle, June 25-26, 1876, the hills and prairie were green.

Here we are looking in the opposite direction, to the east. More gravesites are seen here, and all along the battle route. We are saddened by the bloodshed, but more saddened about how the Native Americans were treated by the "white man" who thought he had a right to take possession of the lands. Enough said!
After our tour, we ate some delicious Indian Fry Bread at the Custer Battlefield Trading Post, an excellent restaurant and store run by the Indians, probably the Crow, since the whole historical site is on the Crow Reservation. Our waiter told us he was part Crow, Cheyenne, Scottish and French! We ate at this restaurant about 12 years ago, and found it was just as wonderful now as then.


Forry and Char said...

We need to visit the battle site again someday. When we were there before, the guides were still white National Park Service Rangers. I understand that now the guides are Native Americans with a whole different version of the battle...
Neat pictures!

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