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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
Friends Projects 2004
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Webmaster's Note: This is a record of the projects we supported in 2004. We met all of our goals and on June 25, 2004 the Fetterman soldier was laid to rest beside his fellow soldiers. The Friends also unveiled the Deep Ravine wayside exhibit. You can read further about all these events.
Deep Ravine Trail
Historians debate how 28 of Custer's soldiers fell in the Deep Ravine and died there during the battle. Speculation exists ever since Reno and Gibbon's soldiers buried the Custer dead on June 28, 1876.
Two historical-archeologists merged all the possibilities into two distinct theories. I refer to them as the Scott Theory (named for NPS Chief Archeologist Douglas Scott) and the Fox Theory (named for Dr. Richard Fox). Both men led the archeological digs at the battlefield in 1984, 1985, 1989 and 1994. Both wrote two of the best books about the battle. Scott's Archaeological Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn presents the final reports by all the principle disciplined leaders from the 1984-85 digs. Fox's Archaeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle presents his own conclusions from the digs of 1984-85. What I find absolutely fascinating is that Scott and Fox present different conclusions based upon the same data.
Long before Scott and Fox wrote their books I'd often pondered what happened at the Little Bighorn. Personally, the most alluring section of the battlefield is the Deep Ravine. It continues to captivate me, allows my vivid imagination to run wild and every time I walk to the end of the Deep Ravine Trail I feel humbled. It is a sacred place that all of us can enjoy and should protect.
It's been my long-time ambition to enhance interpretation along Deep Ravine Trail. The only interpretation available is a self-guided booklet that explains points of interest along the trail. The Deep Ravine Trail meanders over hills and through coulees until it dead-ends at the Deep Ravine about 600 yards from Last Stand Hill. I've wanted an interpretive panel at the end of the trail, along the edge of the Deep Ravine, to reward those visitors that made it that far.
I presented this idea to Superintendent Darrell Cook and Park Historian John Doerner after counsel with Robert Utley, Paul Hutton, and Neil Mangum. All of them liked the idea, so I presented it to the board during our meeting in December 2003. The board unanimously approved a donation of $5,000 to the National Park Service to develop and produce an interpretive panel. Robert Utley, Paul Hutton, Neil Mangum, and myself will work with Superintendent Cook and John Doerner on the historical narrative that will accompany the panel.
The Deep Ravine Trailside Exhibit Graphic
Fetterman Soldier Reburial
Another project for 2004 is the sponsorship of the Fetterman soldier reburial. You might remember the soldier's remains were found on Last Stand Hill during construction of the Indian Memorial. The reburial ceremonies will be held the afternoon of June 25, 2004. The Friends will cover the costs of booklets and, if necessary, replacement of the headstone.
The Friends is not conducting a formal fundraiser this year. Last years was a great success with the sell of Eric von Schmidt's print, "Here Fell Custer." This year I'd like all the Friends' members and those that regularly visit this website to make a donation of any amount towards these projects. I'd like the funding of both projects to come directly from you. Remember, your donation is tax deductible.
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Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022