Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
As I continue to explore the Little Bighorn Battlefield the next morning and afternoon, I gain a much clearer idea of how the drama played out. I had read many accounts of the battle, but seeing the lay of the land helps me visualize it more clearly. For example, it all happened over a much larger area, and over a longer period of time, than I had conceived.
Here are just a few more images of the many, many more things I see and learn here this second day at the Little Bighorn battlefield:
Above: Deep Ravine, through which Crazy Horse led a charge towards Land Stand and Calhoun Hills from the Little Bighorn River.
Many times throughout my life, especially as a child and teen, I had heard of the battle at the Little Bighorn, and shrugged my shoulders each time. I was not then inspired to learn more about it: it seemed to me like just one more of the countless times human beings have slaughtered each other for what were probably completely insufficient reasons. Why learn the tedious details?
I’ve only recently begun to make a serious study of the history of the Native Americans of the Great Plains and their encounters with the encroaching peoples of the United States and Europe. What I’ve learned is disturbing, amazing, complex, and heart-wrenching. Learning about this battle, it turns out, is not the least bit tedious. It’s dramatic, tragic, fascinating, and invaluable for understanding this very important and formative period in American history, and continues to be very relevant today. Human beings are still wasting lives on battlefields all over the world, and Americans are still dismissive of and doing wrong to the original inhabitants of the Plains, as the recent Dakota Access Pipeline debacle illustrates.
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Sources and inspiration:
‘The Battle of the Little Bighorn‘, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, National Park Service website
Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970
Connell, Evan S. Son of the Morning Star. London: Macmillan, 1984
‘Indian Memorial’, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, National Park Service website
Jackson, Joe. Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
Janiskee. Bob. ‘An Indian Memorial Helps to Re-Image Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument‘, National Parks Traveler, Dec 7th, 2008
Marquis, Thomas Bailey. Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer, 1931
Marshall, Joseph III. The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History. New York: Viking, 2004
Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks, 1932
Powers, Thomas. The Killing Of Crazy Horse. New York: Knopf, 2010
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