“Site of Custer's Last Stand”
This area memorialises the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency, Montana, commemorates one of America's most significant and famous battles, the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Here on June 25 and 26, 1876, two divergent cultures clashed in a life or death struggle.
Four hundred years of struggle between Euro-Americans and Native Americans culminated on this ground. Like a handful of battles in American history, the defeat of 12 companies of Seventh Cavalry by Lakota (Sioux), Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors rose beyond its military significance to the level of myth. Thousands of books, magazine articles, performances in film and theater, paintings, and other artistic expressions have memorialized "Custer's Last Stand."
In 1879, the Little Bighorn Battlefield was designated a national cemetery administered by the War Department. In 1881, a memorial was erected on Last Stand Hill, over the mass grave of the Seventh Cavalry soldiers, U.S. Indian Scouts, and other personnel killed in battle. In 1940, jurisdiction of the battlefield was transferred to the National Park Service. These early interpretations were largely mono-cultural, honoring only the U.S. Army's perspective, with headstones marking where each fell.
The essential irony of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is that the victors lost their nomadic way of life after their victory. Unlike Custer's command, the fallen Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were removed by their families, and "buried" in the Native American tradition, in teepees or tree-scaffolds nearby in the Little Bighorn Valley. The story of the battle from the Native American perspective was largely told through the oral tradition.
Even so, today, no memorial honors the Native Americans who struggled to preserve and defend their homeland and traditional way of life. Their heroic sacrifice was never formally recognized - until now.
In 1991, the U. S. Congress changed the name of the battlefield and ordered the construction of an Indian Memorial. In 1996, the National Park Service - guided by the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Advisory Committee, made up of members from the Indian nations involved in the battle, historians, artists and landscape architects - conducted a national design competition. In 1997 a winning design was selected.
"Forty Years ago I fought Custer till all were dead. I was then the enemy of the Whitemen. Now I am the friend and brother, living in peace together under the flag of our country." Two Moons, Northern Cheyenne
History nerds get ready: this place is awesome. Visit the Native American part of the memorial first and really read it. Combined with the rest of the history from the area, I dare you not to want to cry. This site more than anything else we visited really made me realize how much we messed up, betrayed, and ruined Native American culture and lifestyle. You need to visit this to really better understand American History.
If you are at all an American history buff, this is one for the bucket list. I remember visiting here as a child in the 70s and remember the story was all about Custer. It's important that this has changed. The scenery is amazing here. The peacefulness of the wind blown prairie grass and tombstones puts you in a reflective mood of what happened here, and why.
I visited on a very windy day, so my experience was a bit effected by the fact that I was taking everything in with strong gusts of wind knocking me about. But here's what you'll see, rows upon rows of white grave markers in front of the parking lot. Each one for a soldier, and the impact will take your breath away. Next, I recommend that you go through the visitor center and see the little museum--there is a fair amount of artifacts. Next, hop back into your car for a drive down a paved road through the historic land. There are a number of stops with notable historic markers. You'll see lots of headstones marking where soldiers and warriors alike fell in battle. You'll drive through several confusing fences that seem to imply you are on private land, but keep driving until you reach the turn around point. Once you return to the parking lot, I recommend that you then get out and walk to the Monument (you will have driven past it by now but the impact will be greater because you saw the land). You'll see the marker for where Custer fell, the marker where Crazy Horse fell, and countless others. Entering the circular cement area, you'll see a sculpture of native americans on horseback. But I was most impressed with the lovely portraits etched in the cement. Look closely or you might miss how artfully these were done. All in all, it was an interesting and historic stop on my trip out West.
My husband and I spent a gorgeous fall day here in September 2015. Little Bighorn Battlefield had long been on our wish list of places to visit. As with a number of Civil War battlefields we have visited, it is difficult to reconcile the carnage of the battle with the pastoral beauty of the setting. It is hallowed ground and I was pleased to see the Native Americans' side of the conflict as well as the US cavalry's side memorialized. The park service does a good job in explaining the battle with a small museum, a short film and plentiful markers scattered throughout the vast tract of land that makes up the National Monument. There's also a narrated tour available on cd for purchase at the visitor center, I'd recommend this purchase as it adds to the experience with a deeper understanding of events. Little Bighorn Battlefield is a sacred site and its attendant somber atmosphere was reflected in the demeanor of our fellow visitors on the day we visited. If you are at all interested in this chapter of US history, a visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is a must.
I haven't been here since I was a little kid, but I remember being blown away by the somber history of the battlefield. If you're into American history then you should definitely check out Little Bighorn, especially because I think that it provided some of the best contextual treatment of this period in our nation's past.
On June 26, 1876, Lt. Col. George A. Custer led 263 soldiers against several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. The Battle would be known as The Battle of Little Bighorn. According to some historians, Captain Grant Marsh was making his way on the steamboat "Far West" to provide General Custer with reinforcements and supplies.
Very spiritual. Especially on Memorial Day. Also sobering when you really think about what happened and see the battlefields, with the white headstones sprinkled about....
Must see if you or your kids are interested in US History.
Absolutely amazing! Have been here twice and it is very emotional to say the least. Walking out on the plains and reading the headstones and picturing the battle brings tears to your eyes. The museum is a great place also.
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Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
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