I forgot to mention yesterday that we also stopped at the Crazy Horse monument near Custer. It is a work in progress huge mountain sculpture of the Sioux Chief Crazy Horse who lived much of his short life in these hills. A great segway into today.
We emerged from the east side of the Black Hills heading west into Wyoming. To our left as far as we could see was real desert – a moonscape of flat rolling dry scrub land – no crops – no settlements. The odd oil well could be seen pumping next to a small storage tank. The Bad Lands.
A mountain range could be seen in the distance with some snow cover. We turned to the NW and crossed into Montana. Our destination was the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
This site is where Lt Col George Custer and 250 of his men met their demise in June 1876. The Lakota Chief Sitting Bull had led his people and the Northern Cheyene led by Crazy Horse from their reservation in the Black Hills, to settle here to resume their native way of life. A gold rush in the Black Hills had sparked massive American incursion into the reservation violating the treaty. So the native Americans left in defiance and were ordered back to the reservation by the US government.
George Custer with about 600 cavalry tried to surprise them and was outnumbered by the 1500-2000 Indian warriors here. He made a fatal mistake when he split his forces into 4 smaller groupings trying to surprise the village before the warriors could mount up. Surprise was lost and Custer found himself and his battalion completely surrounded. They were anilated.
We toured the battle site by car and looked at the headstone where he fell. It is sacred ground for sure. There is a headstone marking where each cavalry man had fallen and now more and more where each native warrior had too.
Ironically we had to leave hurriedly when a scheduled power outage shut down things at 4:30. We headed up the road and stayed the night after another great sunny day.
Dave and Marie
(Sitting Bull survived the battle and fled to Canada before returning to be arrested years later. Crazy Horse kept up the fight and was shot in a US prison at age 36 or so. George Custer was seen as a hero for the next 50 years or so but gradually this view changed. He is now seen as neither a hero nor a villain.)