Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Little Bighorn

On May 15, 2004 we planned to stay at the RV and do some housework, but the day so beautiful we could not stay inside. We were still in Black Hawk, South Dakota at The Three Flags RV Park which is about fifteen miles north of Custer State Park inside the Black Hills National Forest. So, we took a drive through the mountains which were covered with thousand of pine trees and other evergreens. The views and the visions still in my heard were spectacular. We saw herds of free-roaming buffalo which are always a delight to see. The deer were gentle and must have felt comfortable with humans around, as they posed for pictures.

Driving through the park we saw many graves of Indians and cavalry soldiers that died in the Battle of Little Bighorn. A total of two hundred sixty of the six hundred soldiers were killed fighting several thousand Indians over a two day period. It was interesting to see the expanse of the battlefield. It was huge. The battlefield gets its name from the Little Bighorn River that runs through the area.

In the museum we saw many pictures and articles about people that died there and many artifacts from the area. They had a replica of the battlefield, videos to explain the battle activities and many brochures to provide visitor and historic information. I think I was more enthused than Kathi, because I like to read about battle details and strategy. I always thought Custer was a general, but he died a lieutenant colonel under the direction of General Alfred Terry from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory. The Indian chiefs included Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gall and several others. Crazy Horse was shown great respect when he was alive and by many Native Americans after his death. He is revered because he never gave up.

Things went awry after we signed a treaty with the Northern Plains Indian tribes, including the Lakota, Crow and the Cheyenne. After gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the army could not keep the white men off the reservation. The Battle of Little Bighorn was one of the last major battles in the clash between European whites and Native Americans. Much of the land in the area is now a Crow Reservation.

There was a class of Indian Children touring the museum and I remember thinking that this was one of the few battles their people had won. Indians living on reservations are held back the same way poor people living in an impoverished inner city are held back -- by gifts from the government. The Indians still have an opportunity to succeed, if they will get an education and get off the reservation.

Small buffalo herd in Custer State Park

Graveyard in Custer State Park

More graves. Not all graves were in the graveyard. Many were buried on the spot where they died.

Lake inside of Custer State Park

Buffalo shedding it winter coat.

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