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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
Custer Battlefield & Friends News
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Visit here often to catch up on the most recent news from the Custer Battlefield and/or Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LIBI)
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Announces 140th Battle Anniversary Events June 24-26, 2016
Special programs, including a new museum exhibit, commemorate the anniversary of
the Battle of the Little Bighorn June 24-26, 2016. Regularly scheduled
Orientation Film and Ranger Talkswill beavailable on Friday and Sunday.
1 p.m. Arikara Old Scout Society presentation at Visitor Center Patio
October 30, 2014 Little Bighorn Battlefield Public Meetings
August 19, 2014 LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD ROAD PAVING PROJECT UPDATE
The park tour road and parking lots will have a complete overlay and chip seal this year. The upcoming work includes chip sealing and pavement striping August 25th to the 29th. Please be aware that when visiting the battlefield during these dates, delays may be possible. The park tour road will be closed the entire day of August 27th due to the repaving work. All other services will be open and ongoing August 27th including the visitor center, bookstore operations, 25 minute orientation film, ranger talks, and the opportunity to visit Custer National Cemetery. One hour bus tours operated by Apsaalooke Tours will be cancelled only on August 27th due to the road closure.
The resurfacing of all roads and pavement in the park is being performed by the Federal Highway Pavement Preservation Project. Damaged areas have already been repaired in advance of the resurfacing. The Federal Highways Department will complete the resurfacing project with newly painted traffic striping on the park road network.
Visitors need to be aware that temporary and short term road closures as well as single lane traffic may be encountered during road paving.
July 2014 - HOPE Project at LIBI
"This summer, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument will be one of the
first National Park Service sites to participate in a new program of The
National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Hands-On Preservation Experience,
or HOPE Crew, will introduce young people and military veterans to historic
preservation trade skills in order to foster a new generation of craftspeople in
this type of resource management work. For this project, the HOPE Crew will
utilize Montana Conservation Corps members to conduct crucial preservation
activities. The National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center
and park staff will provide preservation training and project oversight for the
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.
August 26, 2013 -- Permanent Panels Placed in Indian Memorial
Work has begun on the final phase of the Indian Memorial at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Temporary panels have been in place on the interior walls of the memorial since dedication of the Memorial in 2003. These panels were designed to honor the fallen warriors of all the tribes involved with the “Battle of the Little Bighorn” also known as the “Battle of the Greasy Grass”. The temporary panels were placed to allow time for further dialogue with 17 affiliated tribal groups about appropriate text and images that are consistent with traditional customs and values. These words of respect, imagery, and listings of warrior names will be engraved upon the granite stone of the Indian Memorial to honor their ancestors for future generations.
“This has been a long time coming”, Superintendent Swanke said, “and we are pleased at how both the 7th Cavalry Monument on last Stand Hill, and the Indian Memorial just opposite, complement one another, and respect all veterans of this battle”. For safety reasons, the Indian Memorial will be closed to park visitors while work continues.
Park rangers will be stationed at the Indian Memorial during this time period. Informational handouts about the Indian Memorial, as well as samples of finished black granite showing text and images, are available at the site for visitor to see. Artists from Chevo Studios, headquartered out of Denver, Colorado, and led by Andy Dufford, arrived on Monday, August 26, with plans to complete the project by late September. A rededication or completion ceremony is being planned.
The Indian Memorial was authorized by Congress and signed into law on December 10, 1991, by former President George Bush. Public Law 102-201 renamed Custer Battlefield National Monument as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and called for the national design competition, construction, and maintenance of a memorial to recognize the Indians who participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876.
Sept 10, 2012 -- Denice Swanke Appointed New Supt
Denice Swanke, a 21-year veteran of federal service in the Department of the Interior, has been named superintendent of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in southeastern Montana. Swanke, now a legislative affairs specialist in the National Park Service’s Washington Office, replaces Kate Hammond, who recently was named superintendent of Valley Forge Historical Park. She reports for duty at Little Bighorn Battlefield on Oct. 15.
John Wessels, Intermountain Region director for the National Park Service (NPS), noted Swanke’s strong background in park planning, communication and cooperation as a national parks liaison on policy and legislation. “Denice brings especially useful skills and experience to the task of outreach and community relations in managing one of our nation’s most important and most cherished historic sites,” Wessels said.
Swanke’s career has included stints in three national parks and with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. She has worked since 2010 in the NPS’s Washington Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs, where she is the liaison to Congress for the NPS’s Alaska and Pacific West regions. She also has been primary legislative contact on several service-wide issues, including national park overflights, tourism and energy.
“I am honored to join the Little Bighorn
Battlefield team, and am excited about working with park staff and the
monument’s local communities and partners,” Swanke said. “I look forward
especially to engaging all those who care about the park in the long-term
protection and appreciation of this critical and historic resource.”
Swanke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in earth sciences at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. She earned her master’s in public administration from the University of Montana in Missoula. Her husband retired from the Park Service as a deputy chief ranger at Yellowstone in 2007, and they have a home in Paradise Valley, MT.
NOTE: I wish to thank Gus Sanchez and David Harrington for their dedication and hard work while serving as acting superintendents after Kate Hammond. The Friends membership were lucky to have met both of them during our anniversary weekend in June.
After David finishes passing the superintendent's chair to Denice, he rides off into NPS retirement sunset. He and his wife, Jana deserve many great years of relaxation and travels to Custer events. Hope to see both of you again, real soon.
Gus is not retiring just yet. Whatever endeavors he pursues in the NPS, I know he will do his best and serve well. Good luck in the next Park.
June 11, 2012 -- Deer Medicine Rocks, National Historic Landmark (NHL) Dedication Event
All photos for this report are courtesy of Jim Thorn unless otherwise noted.
Friends member Jim Thorn attended the Deer Medicine Rocks National Historic Landmark dedication on June 11, 2012. The photos and agenda from that report follow. To read a detailed report of the dedication ceremony please jump to the Billings Gazette article by Lorna Thackeray. Please see report immediately below dated May 23, 2012 regarding the importance of this historic landmark.
Webmaster's Note: The Bailey ranch is still private property even with the Rocks now designated a NHL. This designation does not give anyone the right to visit the Rocks without the owner's permission.
The agenda for the day included:
MC: Conrad Fischer, Northern Cheyenne Tribe
May 23, 2012 -- Deer Medicine Rocks, National Historic Landmark Dedication Planned
I spoke with Jerry Greene this morning and he shared exciting news about Deer Medicine Rocks designation as a National Historic Landmark. Before retiring from the National Park Service, Mr. Greene conducted the research and submitted the nomination -- at the request of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe -- that successfully resulted in Deer Medicine Rocks National Historic Landmark designation.
Deer Medicine Rocks boldly overlooks the Rosebud River just outside the northern boundary of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. I first experienced this mystical place on June 25, 1988 when Neil Mangum and I led two bus loads of CBH&MA members on a tour there. It was quite ironic that at almost the same moment, Russell Means would conduct a demonstration on Last Stand Hill at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. His demonstration was the catalyst for the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that changed the name of the battlefield and created the Indian Memorial.
The dedication ceremony will be held on site at Deer Medicine Rocks, Monday June 11, 2012 at 10:00 AM. Northern Cheyenne Tribal Secretary Melissa Lonebear has informed me that the ceremony is open to the public. Please keep in mind that Deer Medicine Rocks is located on private property owned by Jack and Carol Bailey.
Deer Medicine Rocks is located 5 miles north of Lame Deer, Montana at Hwy 39 and Bailey Lane on the west side of Hwy 39.
Mr. Greene's submission form is an exceptional study of Deer Medicine Rocks. Jump here to read the entire submission form written by Jerome Greene.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
March 29, 2012 -- Invasive Plant Management Program Expands
One of the projects Friends is assisting LIBI with this year is the invasive
plant management program managed by Melana Stichman, Natural Resources and
Compliance Coordinator. Friends assistance includes funds for a backpack sprayer
and this brochure. One of our members generously donated a new backpack
sprayer saving Friends and LIBI $400.
January 25, 2012 -- Kate Hammond To Manage Valley Forge National Historical Park
I spoke with Superintendent Kate Hammond today - she gave me the news that the time has come for her to be moving on to a new job. She’ll be heading east and stepping back in time by another 100 years as she will manage the Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.
"Kate's experience at Little Bighorn Battlefield has demonstrated her skill at bringing partners together to work towards a common vision," said National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Dennis R. Reidenbach. "Her skills as a manager will be a great asset in working with all of the partners in the Valley Forge area..."
"Valley Forge is an iconic and special place that continues to inspire Americans. I am honored and thrilled at the opportunity to work with park staff, park partners, volunteers, and the local communities around Valley Forge and Hopewell Furnace to protect both parks' resources and improve the visitor experience," said Ms. Hammond.
Ms. Hammond and Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield formed a quick bond resulting from an on-site board meeting at the battlefield in March 2009. During the three years of her administration at LIBI, Friends supported projects totaling $25,900. For this year, we’ve pledged $10,000.
As with all superintendents who transfer to a new position, there are projects
still left on the table. Ms. Hammond has accomplished great work while at LIBI,
but probably the highlight was her success in bringing the necessary parties
together for a new visitor center. That work will continue under Acting
Superintendent Fernando Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez is currently chief of
interpretation at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
We wish Ms. Hammond the best of luck. We will miss her.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.
March 9, 2012 -- New Fire Management Plan & Environmental Assessment
The National Park Service (NPS) will be preparing a new fire
management plan and environmental assessment (EA) for Little Bighorn Battlefield
National Monument. The proposed fire management plan is intended to be both
strategic and operational, guiding the full range of wildland fire program
activities that support land and resource management objectives.
Written comments also may be sent to:
Webmaster's Note: To see the effects that wildfire can have upon our Monument, there is no better example than the Great Fire of 1983.
January 19, 2012 -- New Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study
LIBI announced an Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study to address safety and congestion problems along its tour road and parking lots. The Park Service will accept comments and suggestions for consideration. Submission deadline is January 25, 2012.
For background please jump here.
Send comments to
January 17, 2012 -- PBS "American Experience" presents "Custer's Last Stand"
Like everything else about General George Custer, his martyrdom was shrouded in controversy and contradictions. The final act of his larger-than-life career played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. In the end, his death would launch one of the greatest myths in American history. Part of the Wild West collection. Check your local stations for future broadcasts.
Also tune in on January 24th for a new program about Wyatt Earp and January 31st for a program about Jesse James. For more information, please visit "American Experience" on PBS.
November 28, 2011 -- Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Announce Fundraising Campaign, "Make A Stand With Friends"
Friends is a non-profit 501 c3, Donations are tax deductible
During the Friends board of directors meeting on November 10, 2011, the board unanimously approved a pledge of $10,000 for the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This donation will be divided over five projects:
1. $4,000 for publication of the annual park newspaper which is distributed at
the entrance station generally from May-September. The visitor to the Monument
depends on the newspaper to better plan what to see and do.
To ensure Friends can make this pledge, we announce our fundraising campaign “Make A Stand With Friends”. Its goal is to raise $5,000 by June 25, 2012 in order to match the same amount from Friends. We humbly ask our Friends members, those who use our website, and/or those who just love the Custer Battlefield to join us in supporting these important projects. We understand that these are tough economic times, so we appreciate any amount you can give.
October 27, 2011 -- "State of the National Parks 2011" Released
***** Update December 7, 2011 *****
Features Little Bighorn Battlefield
The NPS has completed a major 10 year study of the condition of America’s national parks including cultural and natural resources. “The State of the National Parks” instills a much broader understanding of just what the NPS does in protecting those places we all love to visit.
The study found good and bad but it also provides for outstanding recommendations for improvement. Of course, the recommendations require funding and that is why Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield exists. We provide funding for projects at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument where government funding is not available.
Click on the buttons below to read the full report as well as accompanying material.
October 12, 2011 -- Friends of
the Little Bighorn Battlefield Announces Publication of "Uncovering History: The
Legacy of Archeological Investigations at Little Bighorn Battlefield National
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.
Advance Praise for Ghost Herder:
“You have done a magnificent job with a stellar list of authors. I think you may have set a standard you can’t meet in the future. Hearty congratulations on this issue.”
ROBERT UTLEY, author of “Sitting Bull: The Lance and the Shield” and “Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military”
Ghost Herder’s mission statement states that “it shall focus on producing articles covering a wide range of topics that the national monument has experienced including but not limited to the following subjects: resource management programs both cultural and natural, interpretive activities, curation, archeology, national cemetery operations, administrative history, park history, and historical themes consistent with the park’s Statement for Interpretation.” Think of it as a living biography of Little Bighorn Battlefield.
In this first issue of Ghost Herder, Mr. Mangum provides an extensive and detailed look at the transformation of Last Stand Hill since 1876. We include one aerial photo of LSH never published before. It’ll blow you away. Mr. Mangum originally presented this topic at the Friends first symposium on June 26, 2001.
Jerome Greene provides a fascinating look at how Indian testimony was rejected but then accepted over the years. Mr. Greene presented this paper at the Friends fundraiser on June 27, 2008.
Michael Donahue’s contribution is priceless. At times laugh-out-loud-funny as he shares personal stories of life as a seasonal ranger at LBH for two decades.
Englishman Kingsley Bray studies one aspect of the battle: who killed Mitch Bouyer and Bloody Knife. Bray found new evidence – never published – that will make one consider his theory seriously.
The final article is by the master archeologist of every archeological survey at LBH. Dr. Douglas Scott tells us the stories of the early archeologists, both professional and amateur, who surveyed the battlefield for battle relics. This is a preview, somewhat, of our future book, “Uncovering History” to be published in 2013 and written by Dr. Scott which chronicles the complete story of every archeological study conducted at LBH.
September 30, 2011 -- New Video Podcasts Posted On Park Service Website
The staff at the battlefield (LIBI) has updated their website with three new video podcasts about the Battle of the Little Bighorn: Part 1. “Setting the Stage”, Part 2. “The Battle” and Part 3. “The Aftermath and the Monument”. The podcasts include views of the battlefield and interviews with Chief of Interpretation Ken Woody, and Park Rangers Jerry Jasmer and Marvin Dawes. The podcasts were produced through an agreement with Montana State University and funded through the LIBI fee revenue.
I asked Superintendent Kate Hammond if more podcasts are planned for the future. She explained that they would like to do more someday, but “there's nothing funded at this point. One excellent source of potential podcast material will be all the footage that has been shot by Great Divide for the new LIBI interpretive film - lots of interviews, reenactments, scenes, etc.”
I encourage our membership to view the podcasts. It’s easy, just jump to here.
We’re producing the next Friends newsletter with plans to have it in your mailbox by mid October.
June, 2011 -- Friends Donates $5,000 For Cemetery Waysides & Garrison Flag
As partners, Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument will replace the two Custer National Cemetery waysides and the garrison flag that flies over the cemetery. Friends’ contribution is in the amount of $5,000. The wayside text uses outdated language and is not inclusive of the Vietnam War. The waysides are identical.
The new waysides will be porcelain enamel in a cantilevered base to match other waysides throughout the monument. The waysides are located at the Visitor Center parking lot and the cemetery entrance near the Stone House. Both waysides will have the same text, but will have different historical photos/views of the cemetery and landscape.
Deep Ravine Trail Is Open
Flood Update June 7, 2011 --
In an email, Acting Superintendent Barbara Johnson provided encouraging news
regarding the temporary closing of Deep Ravine Trail due to damage from water
erosion. She has her team working as best and as fast as they can to try and get
the trail open in time for the anniversary.
This flood may be a godsend for the location of a possible new visitor center as Ms. Johnson notes. NPS does not want to build in a floodplain.
Jump here for photos of
the damage to the trail.
Ms. Johnson notes:
Flood Update June 6, 2011 --
Just spoke with Mike Donahue. Heavy rains over the last month have wreaked
destruction along Deep Ravine Trail with some areas washed out. Result is the
trail is temporarily closed. Not sure for how long. Bluffs between Weir Point
and Reno Benteen Battlefield have erosion in many places. Photo from Donahue
above shows example of some damage. Many people who live along the river have a
lot of property damage. Acting Superintendent Barbara Johnson told me in an
email that last month’s flood “was the highest recorded...about a foot higher
than 1978”. Donahue told me that he heard this flood was equivalent to a 500
year flood. We will keep you posted in regards to Deep Ravine Trail.
Flood Update May 25, 2011 --
Acting Superintendent Barbara J. Johnson in an email stated, "I opened the park today - I see some limited vehicular traffic on I-90 and we have had some visitors. The water is receding. We have had non-stop calls from folks wanting to come in - it is a very popular National Monument!" Our prayers are for the residents that live along the Little Bighorn River and for their speedy recovery from this flood.
Flood Update May 23, 2011 --
The battlefield webcam shows the water level of the Little Bighorn River has lessened. That is good news. I haven't heard from anyone at the battlefield yet today.
May 22, 2011 -- Little Bighorn River Floods
Mike Donahue just called me from the battlefield with news of the Little Bighorn River flooding due to snow melt and rain. I-90 is closed between Sheridan, Wyoming and Hardin, Montana. The interstate across from the battlefield is under water. However, Hwy 212 is still open. Flooding is bad in Lodge Grass. Original Friends board member, Linda Pease, told me that the water is up to the windows in the Lodge Grass post office.
Some of the staff cannot reach the battlefield. Crow Agency has
volunteers filling sandbags. As a result, the battlefield is closed today. Not
sure about tomorrow.
Portions of the Deep Ravine bank have caved in.
Keep an eye on the battlefield’s webcams.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
Two photos below from May 21, graciously provided by Sandy Watts.
Second photo of I-90 and Hwy 212 intersection -- is this the ideal location for a new visitor center?
Bleachers at Realbird reenactment. Medicine Tail Ford seen in background
Near intersection of I-90 and Hwy 212
John Doerner, Arikara Markers Dedication, June 2007
April 27, 2011 -- Chief Historian John Doerner Retires
Time catches up with all of us and time has arrived for John Doerner, Chief Historian Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. John retired from the NPS effective April 29, 2011. I’m happy for my long time friend but will miss him as the official historian at the Custer Battlefield.
I’ve known John since the 80s and have had the privilege to watch him grow from a young interpreter to a park ranger and then chief historian. In a phone call this morning, John shared that he’s looking forward to retirement. He plans to continue research and writing and make some of it available for the Friends’ website. He was also excited to report that all of his official correspondence and research will be digitized and placed in the “John Doerner Research Collection” to be stored with the rest of the collection in Tucson.
John plans to stay in the Hardin area for the immediate future. Eventually, he’ll move back east to be near his brothers, and build a log cabin somewhere along the shore of lake.
For those of our members attending our field trip on the battlefield June 24, 2011, I have exciting news. John is planning to assist with interpretation at certain points on the battlefield. Anyone that had the chance to experience John’s battle talk during our visit to Last Stand Hill several summers ago will tell you that John has the power to mesmerize with fascinating stories of the battle.
John will also attend our Friends Feast and general membership meeting on Saturday June 25 behind the administration building. This will offer many of us a chance to wish John luck in his retirement.
I’d like to thank John for all his support of Friends over the years. He’s either providing content for our website or ideas for fundraisers. He is truly a best friend of our organization.
All the best to you, John -- you’ll be missed.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
John on Friends website:
John Doerner's parting thoughts:
The time has now come for me to say farewell to all of my friends as I work my
final day as Chief Historian at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. I
will now prepare for a new chapter in my life and retirement
March 29, 2011 --In temporary move, battlefield archives and collections will be relocated for safer storage and preservation. Museum displays will remain on exhibit in visitor center.
CROW AGENCY, Mont., March 29, 2011 -- In a move to protect and preserve the
historic objects and records at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument,
the National Park Service (NPS) will temporarily relocate the park’s museum
collection and archives while it works to establish a more secure and permanent
repository at the battlefield.
“The collection and archives of Little Bighorn are nothing less than cultural
and historical treasures,” said John Wessels, director of the NPS’s eight-state,
91-park Intermountain Region, which includes Montana and the monument. The
region also operates WACC. “Unfortunately, all are at risk, and some need
special attention. This temporary measure represents both a rescue effort and a
commitment to protect these treasures now while we work to give them the
permanent home they deserve.”
The present storage area also lacks fire suppression and adequate climate
control, is at risk of flood damage from ceiling-mounted water pipes, and is not
accessible to anyone with physical disabilities. The space also is too cramped
for proper preservation of objects, is not conducive to research, and does not
meet NPS standards for museum storage or American Association of Museums “best
Jump here to
visit Western Archeological and Conservation Center.
February 23, 2011 Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Now Accepting Comments on Invasive Plant Management Plan Environmental Assessment --
Alternative 1 would be a continuation of current management, while Alternative 2 would use a systematic 7-step process, developed by the parks, to address the threat of nonnative invasive plant management. These alternatives were derived from comments received during public scoping, which occurred in 2008 and from internal scoping which occurred throughout the preparation of the EA.
The ten national parks involved in the plan include: Big Hole National Battlefield (Montana), City of Rocks National Reserve (Idaho), Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (Idaho), Fossil Butte National Monument (Wyoming), Golden Spike National Historic Site (Utah), Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site (Montana), Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument (Idaho), Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Montana), Minidoka National Historic Site (Idaho), and Nez Perce National Historical Park, Bear Paw Battlefield Site (Montana).
The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) in the EA will provide the parks with
a flexible invasive plant management process, using Integrated Pest Management
techniques and adaptive management to direct nonnative invasive plant management
activities and to prioritize management actions, target plants and resources.
One example of how the parks would use the preferred alternative to employ
invasive species prevention and early detection is using the list of potential
new invaders to look for new invasive species and systematically monitoring
heavily developed or high use areas (“hot spots” or vectors for new invasions)
to detect new invasive species establishment.
• Big Hole National Battlefield: Jimmer Stevenson (406) 689-3155 or Jason Lyon
(208) 843-7017 (http://www.nps.gov/biho)
Webmaster's Note: Jump here to access the EA.
October 8, 2010 Lane Anderson Appointed to Friends of the
Little Bighorn Board of Directors --
Lane shared this with me: “I have always had an interest in the frontier as my mother's family is from the Montana-Wyoming border area, where my great-great grandfather homesteaded (about 45 miles from Little Bighorn) in the late 1800s. I have a background in journalism and have written for several national magazines, most recently Psychology Today, and my stories have also been heard on public radio stations. I live in New York City with my husband.”
Lane first called me sometime in 2006 while she was researching her master thesis. I was impressed by this young woman’s intelligence and sincerity for her project. Lane attended our Friends events in the summer of 2008 and returned in 2009 to work as a trail volunteer.
My goal is to ensure Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield a long and prosperous life resulting from a board made-up of a diverse group in age and gender. Last year we approved Ryan Trainor (see report below dated October 31, 2009) to the board and we now welcome Lane Anderson. Their contributions make certain Friends move forward with continued fresh perspectives.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
August 3, 2010 Friends Summer Events Report (Finally Online) --
During June 25-26, 2010 we held our general membership meeting and our first field trip upon the battlefield which we called, "Deep Ravine Trail & Beyond". It was actually more like walking on the dark side of the moon. Jump here for a complete report and tons of photos from beyond Deep Ravine Trail.
July 26, 2010 Friends and LIBI Renew MOA --
During the Friends general membership meeting on June 26, 2010 Ms. Hammond and Friend President Bob Reece signed an extension of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for another year until we can complete the task of a complete rewrite of the MOA. This rewrite is being coordinated by Krista Muddle, Regional Partnership Coordinator in the Denver Regional Office. Friends and LIBI signed their first MOA in 1998 when Rick Meyer was president and Neil Mangum was superintendent.
For the last 12 years, Friends and management at LIBI have maintained a close and trusting relationship that neither party take lightly. Even though we do not have a formal agreement with Western National Parks Association (WNPA) -- which manages the bookstore at LIBI -- Friends and WNPA also have a positive working relationship.
July 12, 2010 Robert Utley Publishes New Web Site --
Renowned historian Robert Utley has a long and distinguished career with the
National Park Service and as America's favorite western historian. We are also
extremely honored that Mr. Utley has served on the Friends of the Little Bighorn
board of directors since June 25, 2001.
May 14, 2010 Reported by Friends Board Member Mike Semenock --
Last month Superintendent Kate Hammond presented us with an opportunity to help
fund an archeological survey project at the battlefield. For the survey,
electric pulse induction, a technology never before used at the battlefield,
would be used to search for metal objects to a depth of up to three feet. The
project would be performed under the direction of Dr. Douglas Scott, retired NPS
Archeologist and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at The University of Nebraska
- Lincoln. The area to be surveyed is the neck of an oxbow loop in the Little
Bighorn River, one of three within the National Monument boundary, but the one
most imminently threatened to be washed away and with it any undiscovered
battle-related and cultural artifacts. A proposal was put to the Friends Board
of Directors to provide $5,000, which added to the $3,700 of allotted National
Park Service money, would fund the survey in full.
(Webmaster's Note: With this $5,000 donation, Friends has now contributed over the last 14 months a total of $17,970 towards various projects. Full details on those projects as well as past projects can be found here.)
Deby Bellman carefully treats the 7th Cavalry Regiment Standard
Photo by Gary Tarleton, Museum Conservation Services, Harpers Ferry Center,
National Park Service
March 8, 2010 Details of 7th Cavalry Regiment Standard Preservation --
Deby Bellman recently treated the 7th U.S. Calvary
Regiment Standard flag. The flag displays a painted eagle holding a ribbon with
a shield on its breast and 13 stars overhead. The silk is extremely brittle
causing numerous losses and tears.
Webmaster's Note: The above article was originally published in the "Harpers Ferry Center News" January edition and reprinted here with permission.
January 15, 2010: Slim Buttes (Keogh) Guidon and 7th Cavalry Regiment Standard Return Home --
In our last report dated December 15, 2009, Superintendent Kate Hammond of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LIBI) explained the many important projects that will consume much of her staff’s time over the next several years. One of the projects has been dear to my heart for decades: the preservation of the Slim Buttes (Keogh) Guidon and the 7th Cavalry Regiment Standard.
In an email dated December 15, 2009 Chief Historian John Doerner shared with me this bit of information regarding the restoration:
Today was a special day for the battlefield because the flags were returned in the best shape possible thanks to the wonders of 21st century technology. Former Friends board member and Park Ranger, Jerry Jasmer sent me an email with photos attached of the flags as they were removed from their shipping crates. Jerry wrote:
Sharon Small shared with me the experience of opening the flags at their return:
Watch for more details in our next newsletter on how these flags were preserved. Now, for the photos:
7th Cavalry Regiment Standard
Slim Buttes (Keogh) Guidon
Note: Friends members were given an exclusive personal tour of the archives at the battlefield in June 2008 and viewed these flags close-up. Jump here for more information about these flags as well as photos from the archive tour.
Reported by Bob Reece
December 15, 2009 -- Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Superintendent Kate Hammond provides news on future projects. My favorite has to be preservation of the Keogh Guidon and the 7th Cavalry Regimental Standard.
Lola Mauer and Ryan Trainor will report more detail on these projects in successive future newsletters.
Kate Hammond recently discussed with me a plethora of projects that are funded which will create substantial change at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. The highlights are the digitizing of the 7th Cavalry records and the historical photos. The Keogh Guidon and the 7th Cavalry Regimental Standard will finally be preserved; this is a project I've wished for many years. In 2008, Friends members were given a tour of the archives led by Sharon Small. Jump here to see photos of the guidon and the standard from that tour.
Development of a long-range interpretive plan. We will revisit the primary themes that we interpret at the battlefield, and how we communicate these themes to park audiences - both those folks who visit the battlefield, and those who don't (local audiences, internet "travelers", school groups, etc). This will likely be a 2-year project that we hope to kick off in spring 2010.
Development of a new park film. As you may know, the current park film was admirably developed on a shoe-string budget by Friends board member Neil Mangum when he was superintendent here. We will build on Neil's work to develop a more comprehensive film over the next 2-3 years.
New a/v equipment and seating for our makeshift theater in the observation room. Since the basement theater was closed in 2008 due to accessibility and safety concerns, we have been showing the park film in the observation room during the summer. This project will allow us to make upgrades to the A/V equipment (allowing us to comply to ADA requirements for captioning and assisted listening), seating, and window shades until such time as a more permanent theater can be developed or a new visitor center constructed. We hope to have the improvements in place in the next year.
Make the 2nd floor of the administration building accessible to visitors/employees with mobility impairments. This project will install a lift to the 2nd floor to make the 2nd floor conference/meeting room accessible. This project should be completed in the next year.
Rehabilitation of the entrance station. This project will upgrade many of the exterior and interior finishes of the park's entrance station and should be completed in time for the 2010 summer season.
Professional conservation of the 7th cavalry regimental standard and 7th cavalry company guidon to repair and/or stabilize these precious artifacts and build better cases in which to store them. (Note: John Doerner has just informed me that he has already shipped out the flags to Harper's Ferry Center).
Completion of an environmental history of Little Bighorn Battlefield to more accurately understand what the landscape (topography, river course, vegetation) was like in 1876. A future component of this project includes fabrication of two interpretive wayside exhibits that will depict our best understanding of what the landscape was like.
Digitizing approximately 2000 historic photos within the monument's collection, so that select thumbnails can be made available on the park website; some of the digital photos will also be put on the interactive kiosk that is in the visitor center so visitors can have access to this important collection.
Digitizing some of the 7th cavalry war records and Elizabeth Custer historic newspaper collection to make these files more accessible to the public and researchers.
Developing a GIS historic base map of the monument. This project will include compiling and analyzing historic maps of the battlefield to better identify significant sites.
Creating a curriculum-based education program. This 2-year project (spearheaded by former Friends board member Jerry Jasmer) will develop the monument's first traveling trunk(s) to send to local schools so that they can learn about the battlefield, and will develop some educational materials for children who visit the battlefield. The second year of the project will focus on improving the educational resources we have for formal school groups who visit the battlefield.
Completion of some upgrades to the park website,
including the development of some podcasts. We hope this will be completed in
the next year.
A collections management plan, to help us better understand how to protect the battlefield's irreplaceable collection.
A 2-year project for a comprehensive review of our
collections in collaboration with our 12 affiliated tribes to identify items
that may be subject to the Native American Graves Repatriation Act, and, where
appropriate, repatriate these items.
Reported by Bob Reece
December 8, 2010 -- Special message to Friends members from Superintendent Kate Hammond that appeared in our October 2009 newsletter.
Having arrived in the dead of January, it was a joy
to see the park come alive this spring. In March I had the wonderful opportunity
to have a face-to- face meeting with the Friends Board, thanks to their
willingness to venture up to Montana before things got too crazy at the park
with the busy visitor season. I really appreciated the chance to get to know
many of the board members, to learn more about the history of the Friends group,
and to start talking with the board about their ideas for how the park and the
Friends group can work even more closely together in the future. The message
that I heard loud and clear was that Friends is here to help and they want to
support the monument in any way that they can. I have regular phone calls with
Bob Reece, and I could not ask for a more supportive, kind and dedicated board
President - he is a joy to work with. This park is so lucky to have such a
wonderful, supportive Friends group. At that very board meeting, Friends
approved several important projects for the park including purchasing materials
to improve our curatorial storage, supporting a Teacher Ranger Teacher (Tom
Smith) and purchasing replacement batteries for the Historian's electric cart.
December 3, 2009 -- Sharon Small returns as curator at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument effective December 21, 2009.
Great news, folks. The battlefield has its curator back. Sharon Small was given the exciting news today that she will be rehired on a temporary assignment that could last up to five years. I spoke with Supt Kate Hammond last week and there are several really exciting projects that have been funded that involve the archives and Sharon will be leading some of those. I cannot reveal any information about these projects because Kate is writing an update for me to distribute later. Two of those projects have been close to my heart for many years and I know all of you will be elated once you hear about them; one is battle related and another is related to the battle. How’s that for a hint? I’ll report Kate’s update soon.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
Sharon Small and Friends member Ron Papandrea
Sharon and Ron are standing in front of the new Sitting Bull exhibit which Sharon managed and designed throughout its development. The Sitting Bull exhibit stands next to the George Custer exhibit in the museum of the visitor center at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Friends of the Little Bighorn had always wanted such an exhibit in the museum. When the time came, Friends was the only Custer/LBH organization that donated funds in support of the Sitting Bull exhibit. Our contribution was in the amount of $5,000.
October 31, 2009 -- Youngest member appointed to the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Board
We have witnessed some recent changes to the make-up of our board. We have to say goodbye to Jerry Jasmer as a board member. Department of Interior ethics policies require that NPS employees should not sit on partner's boards to avoid any possible conflict of interest. I fully understand this, but I'll miss Jerry as a board member who has faithfully served in that capacity for 11 years. I cannot think of a single instance where he didn't help us with any request; I could always count on him to follow through and complete every project. He always served our board with dignity, as he does the NPS uniform. Jerry reminds me of the Park Rangers I looked up to and respected as a child during our family vacations each summer. Superintendent Kate Hammond was extremely gracious and took the time to contact me before hand to explain the reasons why Jerry could no longer serve. I very much appreciate how Kate handled Jerry's resignation. Thanks again Jerry for all you did to help Friends succeed. We will sure miss having you on the board.
Jerry Jasmer Speaks To Visitors June 2009
However, two positive changes resulted from our losing Jerry: Lola Mauer is now secretary which enables Kay Hunsaker to focus as treasurer and Ryan Trainor fills Jerry’s position on the board. I am excited about the future that follows these changes.
Lola has been a valuable asset to our organization from the beginning. She developed the “Point, Click, Give” campaign that encourages people to donate to Friends online via our website. The PCG campaign continues to be a great success and a convenient means for people to contribute. Lola didn’t hesitate to take over my responsibilities as editor of our newsletter where she has proven herself to be the right person for that job. She’s a great writer; you can read two of her short stories on our website – “Wooden Leg” and “Major Marcus Reno” -- written for her master’s thesis. She has two more and I need to get those online also. Here’s where to go to read her fictional accounts of those individuals in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Our organization is also fortunate to have Ryan Trainor as our newest board member. Ryan is a 2008 graduate of Loyola Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in history and classical civilization. He’s young, energetic, as well as passionate about the battlefield and its story. He was a volunteer interpreter during the anniversary weekend last June.
Friends Newest Board Member, Ryan Trainor, Little Bighorn 2009
Ryan follows in the footsteps of celebrated former Friends board members Dr. Paul Hutton, Dr. Brian Dippie, and Charles Rankin. Ryan is not intimidated by this at all; he is proud and honored to follow such prodigious historians and also excited to work with current and renowned directors Robert Utley and Neil Mangum. Accepting his position on the board, Ryan had this to say, “I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that has made such significant contributions to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. While I recognize the importance of this position and its responsibilities, I am more than willing to devote my time and interest in order to assist Friends in any way possible.”
Thanks to Ryan for coming on board. Friends and the battlefield will benefit from his appointment.
I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
Copyright 1999-2016 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022