During our cross-country trip in 2010, we were getting antsy on the third day in the car, and decided we needed to make a stop. We were seeing signs as we headed east for the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and did a quick check to see how far off the freeway it was. With a 2.5-year old, more time in the car was about the worst thing ever! We found that it was just off Exit 510 on I-90. My mom had bought a National Parks Pass for us to use so we could pop into any National Park along the way and we were happy to see as much of America as possible.
Having been a person who has studied a lot of history from around the world, I have had more of a hankering about learning more of our US history, but I remembered the basics from my middle school days.
This was “Custer’s Last Stand”.
This is where tribes came together to save their people and their way of life.
The thing that haunted me most to me was how amazing this place was, and the beauty, and how somber I felt. It is true hallowed ground. As the wind blew, it was as if you could hear the heavy breathing of the horses, exhausted from battle, and the cries of the many fallen – from both sides. This isn’t a place that shows the nice side of expansion. It reflects a period of history that was very important though. Three passionate groups of people, coming together, standing up for what was most important in the world to them, against a foreign government, and their people moving in. If you want to read more about the battle and why the situation escalated, you can read the write up here.
What I found most remarkable is that each of the Native-American headstones had the men’s names on them. They knew who fell where.
The headstones for the US troops do not have names, and they have guessed where men fell, some most recently based on archeological finds, save Custer. He is the lone white headstone with a name highlighted with a black background.
This site is extraordinary when it comes to artifacts and there is a section of the Visitor’s Center devoted to showing what both the tribes and US soldiers wore, weapons, interviews, what they carried with them, and other things they have found as they surveyed the land. They detail the history of what lead to the event and how the 3 tribes enjoyed as their life and what they risked losing.
The special monument for the that was built recently in honor of the tribes is really beautifully done, and the metal artwork you look through across the prairie, is incredible.
I can’t speak to the tours and it looks as though they may have changed (the 2.5-year old was really getting over the top), but they do offer them at various points through the day, so check the website here for a schedule and fees.
There is a Jr. Ranger program offered here, and we will have to check it out another time, as Laddy was still too young to participate.
This monument is really worth a stop.