Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Valley Of The Little Bighorn

A short ride today through the Crow Indian Reservation took us to the Valley of The Little Bighorn River and the Little Bighorn National Monument, site of Custer's last Stand on June 25 and 26, 1876. The site memorializes one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their ancestral way of life.

Here on those two hot days more than 260 soldiers of the U.S. army met defeat and death at the hands of several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. The visitor center contains a very nice collection of artifacts related to the battle, with many having been found on the site.

After the battle, Lakota and Cheyenne families removed their dead, estimated between 60-100. The bodies of Custer and his command were hastily buried in shallow graves at or near where they fell. In the next few years some remains were removed to Eastern cemeteries with Custer's remains being reinterred at West Point, N.Y. In 1890 the Army erected 249 headstone markers across the battlefield to show where Custer's men had fallen.

In 1999 the National Park Service began erecting red granite markers at known Lakota and Cheyenne warrior casualty sites on the battlefield.

 There is now a National Cemetery here containing the remains of most of the fallen soldiers, many still unidentified.

The 7th Cavalry Memorial, on top of Last Stand Hill, covers a mass grave and overlooks the markers of those killed on this knoll after they shot their horses and made one last stand, fighting to their deaths.

Now, after more than 100 years, there is also a very nice Indian Memorial. The tribes have listed the names of their known dead on a memorial wall near Last Stand Hill. Our camp tonight is in Billings, Mt. at a very nice Moose Lodge.

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