Thursday, August 25, 2016

Little Bighorn National Monument Stop in Montana

After leaving Columbus MT, we wanted to stop at the Little Bighorn National Monument which was a couple hours along I-90.
It was a cloudy day with some rain, but we stopped anyway to see the museum and the grounds.
A national cemetery is on the site on one side of the main building.
Over time, I am learning more and more about the history of the American Indian and the U.S. Government's expansion through the Great Plains.  There were many reasons for encroachments west of the Mississippi, but the lure of a quick fortune meant trappers and fur traders, gold rushers and others looking for a place to homestead, meant treaties with the Indians were broken again and again.

The tensions between the Indians and the white man varied for a number of years, specifically between 1854-1890 in what was known as the Sioux Wars.  The Little Bighorn was one of those battles of the Sioux Wars.

I liked the small but well done museum.  It had a number of interesting artifacts and displays depicting life in the 1870s on the Plains.  The U. S. 7th Cavalry was dispatched to the territory to "get rid of the Indian problem" and Lt. Col. George A. Custer was among the 700 men who fought against approximately 2,000 Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors.
Custer's Last Stand is the source of much speculation, contemplation and legend.  Since it was undoubtedly a complete rout, there were no eye-witness soldiers to substantiate different accounts.  But by most accounts, Custer's force was annihilated within an hour of engagement.

This internet map shows how the Army was positioned for a three pronged attack against the Indians gathering in the area.
It was the largest battle in the Sioux Wars of 1876.   Afterwards, the Indians divided up into smaller groups and dispersed because there was not enough grass and game to sustain the large number of forces that had gathered there.  This was the last significant battle of the Sioux Wars.  Afterwards, the Indians were chased and forced onto numbers of reservations where they were promised peace and rations and their own territory once again.

Among the displays was a display of key people at Little Bighorn including Custer, Major Reno, as well as Indians who served as scouts, guides and interpreters for the Army.

Sitting Bull inspired many of the Indians, including Crazy Horse to fight for their people.   Sitting Bull said to his warriors, "You are fools to make yourselves slaves to a piece of fat bacon, some hard tack and a little sugar and coffee."  Another leader of the day, President Ulysses S. Grant advocated the Peace Policy of 1869 which had little effect on the roaming Indians and the corrupt Indian Agents throughout the territory.

After slowly going through the museum we took a walk up the hill to separate memorials for the Army and Indians.
A monument was erected with the names of the Army fallen.
Across the way was a memorial built for the Indians.
It was worth the stop and we were glad we did.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


  1. I love that history..I especially like the Lewis and Clark Expedition history out there...

  2. This was truly a victory for the Sioux and yet it was bringing to an end of their lives as they knew them. History is so much more interesting when you actually visit where it happened.

  3. This was truly a victory for the Sioux and yet it was bringing to an end of their lives as they knew them. History is so much more interesting when you actually visit where it happened.

  4. It is an important part of our history for better or worse!

  5. I hope you were able to listen to one of the park rangers interpretation. You might find Fort Abraham Lincoln interesting.

  6. Interesting and informative. We enjoy hearing the history while out there.

  7. We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to the "Little Big Horn" last Monday. Thanks for recommending we go. Enjoyed the dinner out with you guys as well. Hope to see you later this year!

  8. I enjoyed visiting the battlefield back in 2008. Nice way to see and understand history but very sobering for such a senseless loss for both sides, a real tragedy.