Friends Of The Little Bighorn Battlefield

The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand

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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.

Friday, June 24
Normal park hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friends of the Little Bighorn volunteer interpreters provide information at Deep Ravine and Keogh Trails, Last Stand Hill, Indian Memorial, and Reno-Benteen Battlefield

1 p.m. Arikara Old Scout Society presentation at Visitor Center Patio

Saturday, June 25 “140th Battle Anniversary”

5:30 a.m. Gates open for 6 a.m. Sunrise Pipe Ceremony at Indian Memorial

7 a.m. Visitor Center openand at 8 a.m. shuttle service begins for overflow parkingnear I-90 and Highway 212 intersection

8 to 10 a.m. Cheyenne River Sioux ride horses along tour road, Amos Cook and Lakota youth riders.

10 a.m. Bighorn Riders “Attack at Dawn” on hillside across from Visitor Center with ceremonies to follow along fence line. Mel Lone Hill, Oglala Sioux. This event is outside of the park but can be viewed towards the north from in front of the Visitor Center.

10 a.m. Ceremony at Lame White Man Marker, Bilford Curley, Northern Cheyenne

9 a.m. to Noon Speakers at Visitor Center Patio
• Trina Lone Hill, Douglas Bissonette, Enos Poor Bear, Oglala Sioux Tribe
• Pauline Cloudman, Rosebud Sioux
• Descendents of the first Tokalas of the great Sioux Nation at the Little Bighorn, Peji Sla, Sicangu Lakota Brulé, Steve Leader Charge
• St. Francis Indian School honoring ancestors, Ione Quigley, Rosebud Sioux

Noon Lunch served by park rangers and Friends of the Little Bighorn, and provided by Western National Parks Association at Amphitheater

Noon—2pm Book signing event in front of Visitor Center with authors Paul Hedren, Sandy Barnard, Paul Magid and James Donovan, sponsored by Western National Parks Association

2 p.m. Northern Cheyenne “Morning Star Riders” enter park on horseback

3 p.m. Northern Cheyenne memorial presentation at Visitor Center patio

4 p.m. Little Bighorn Memorial Spiritual Run to the Indian Memorial with Cheyenne Runners

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friends of the Little Bighorn volunteer interpreters provide information at Deep Ravine and Keogh Trails, Last Stand Hill, Indian Memorial, and Reno-Benteen Battlefield.

8 p.m. Park Closes

Sunday, June 26

Normal park hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

9 a.m. Wreath-laying at Reno-Benteen Memorial with Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association, followed by 10 a.m.wreath-laying at Last Stand Hill. Re-enactment horse riders from theU.S. Cavalry School ride from Medicine Tail Coulee area to participate in events at Last Stand Hill.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Book signing event front of visitor center with authors Paul Hedren and Paul Magid. Event sponsored by Western National Parks Association.

October 30, 2014 Little Bighorn Battlefield Public Meetings

News Release
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Initiates General Management Plan Amendment

In 1986, the National Park Service completed a general management plan for the monument that recommended several actions including relocating the visitor center and parking lot. In the 28 years since that plan was approved, the National Park Service (NPS) has made little headway in implementing recommendations regarding capacity, location, and functions (including visitor access and collections storage) of the monument’s visitor center. Additionally, in 2011 the majority of the monument’s museum collections were temporarily transferred to an NPS facility in Arizona for conservation.

Although we face many pressing issues, the future of the visitor center has been at the forefront of management concerns for decades. The 62-year-old visitor center does not physically or functionally address the primary objective of comprehensively conveying to visitors one of the most important stories in U.S. history. Interpretive exhibits need to be updated and building spaces expanded, replaced, and renovated to accommodate visitors and staff. The appropriate location of the visitor center must also incorporate measures to enhance resource protection, visitor experience, and sustainable operations.

We invite interested parties to join us in discussing the management challenges posed by the outdated visitor center, and help us determine the range of reasonable alternatives that should be considered for this important structure. We also need an appropriate facility to bring our important museum collections back to the Monument as promised. Sharing your ideas and concerns for management of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument will strengthen the planning process and help us make the best decisions for the park.

How to Get Involved

If you are able to, please come to one of the open houses we will hold in November. You will be able to learn more about the planning process and share your views on the future of the park. If not, please share your comments electronically or by mail. Receiving your input before December 15, 2014 will allow us to incorporate your ideas early in the planning process.

Please consider these questions when developing your comments:
What is your vision for the visitor experience at Little Bighorn?
How would the visitor center play a role in that future experience?
Please share with us any concerns that you might have about the visitor center. How has the visitor center affected your visit (s) in the past?
Please tell us your ideas for addressing the ongoing issues at the visitor center.

Share your comments at one of two meetings:
Open House in Hardin, Montana:
November 5, 2014 at 7 p.m.
At Super 8, 201 14th Street, Interstate 90 Exit 495

Virtual Open House:
November 12, 2014 at 7 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Telephone call-in and webinar information will be available at

Share your comments electronically:
Complete an electronic comment form at
Click on “General Management Plan Amendment” and then “Open for Comment”

Share your comments by mail:

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
GMP Amendment
P.O. Box 39
Crow Agency, MT 59022-0039


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 crew."

This is such a great project folks. Denice and her staff are doing an incredible job managing this sacred American site. As most of you know, residing down the hill from where Custer fell is the Custer National Cemetery. There lie about 5,000 veterans and their immediate family. The cemetery has been closed for burials for years now, but its maintained daily by the staff on site.

Chris Ziegler, Chief of Resource Management, is managing the HOPE project, which begins this summer and each successive season for the next four years. HOPE will conduct a systematic headstone cleaning and alignment program within Custer National Cemetery. When you next visit LIBI, you will definitely notice the difference in headstones that have received the cleaning versus those that have not. Once the project is complete, all the headstones in the national cemetery will be in order and well preserved. Our veterans and their loved ones deserve no less.

The HOPE project will also conduct preservation and stabilization work on the park's monuments, which include Fort Keogh, Bear Paw, Fort C.F. Smith, and the 7th Cavalry Monument. They will receive critical stabilization and repair work to address weathering caused by exposure to environmental conditions.

Follow the link to see yesterday's video report from Billings station KTVQ about HOPE's work in the national cemetery.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.

Bob Reece

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.

Follow the progress of this final phase of the Indian Memorial construction on our website.

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 began her federal career at Zion National Park in 1991. Two years later, she moved to Moab, UT to work for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management at the Moab Interagency Fire Center, and later, as a physical scientist.

In 2003, Swanke and her husband, Steve, relocated to Yellowstone National Park working at Lake Village. Her initial assignment was with the Yellowstone Center for Resources. She later joined the Yellowstone management assistant’s office and managed the park’s winter-use activities. In 2008, she transferred to Grand Canyon National Park’s Office of Planning and Compliance in Flagstaff, AZ. There Swanke worked on management of park overflights, animal stock management and the development of Grand Canyon’s “foundation document,” a planning statement of the park’s purpose, significance, key resources and interpretive themes. She also helped plan new park science and resource management facilities.

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.


Bob Reece

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

Opening Prayer: Wilmer Meseth, Oglala Lakota

Presentation of Colors - Flag Song ( Northern Cheyenne Tribal Singers)

Honor Song - Sioux ( Wilmer Mesteth and Oglala Tribal Singers)

Welcome Address: Joe Fox Jr., Vice President, Northern Cheyenne Tribe

David Harrington, Acting Superintendent, Little Bighorn Battlefield for the Honorable Ken Salazar, United States Dept. of the Interior

Guest Speaker: Father Peter Powell

Guest Speaker: Sioux Representatives ( Wilmer Mesteth, Phillip Whiteman Jr., and Phyliss Young)

Bruce Wittenberg, Director, Montana Historical Society

Honorable Jon Tester, United States Senate ( represented by statement by Vicki Stephens)

Honorable Max Baucus, United States Senate (representative unable to attend due to illness)

Honorable Denny Rehberg, United States House of Representatives (represented by statement by J.T.)

Honor Song (Wilmer Mesteth and Oglala Tribal Singers)

Closing Prayer (Wilmer Mesteth and Oglala Tribal Singers)

Afternoon - Tour of Deer Medicine Rocks provided by Mr. Jack Bailey and Phillip Whiteman, Jr.



May 23, 2012 -- Deer Medicine Rocks, National Historic Landmark Dedication Planned

“Deer Medicine Rocks is nationally significant for its association with the Great Sioux War and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. During the Sun Dance ceremony in June 1876, Sitting Bull had a vision of a tribal victory over Lt. Colonel George A. Custer’s Seventh Cavalry command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This vision later appeared as an image on the walls of Deer Medicine Rocks. Sitting Bull’s prophecy inspired the tribes and braced them for future confrontations with the soldiers. The imagery connects the rock art site with the Sun Dance and ultimately, tribal victory at the Little Bighorn. Deer Medicine Rocks represents an alternate historical perspective on the Battle of the Little Bighorn told from a Native American perspective. Nomination of this site also offers an opportunity to designate as an NHL a property that is a non-battle related site. To date, this is the only site nominated to offer a wholly Native American historical interpretation of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.”
                    Jerome Greene – National Historic Landmark Nomination Submission

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.

For the Executive Summary, go here.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,

Bob Reece

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.

You have an opportunity to help the battlefield. Please review the attached brochure and its photos of invasive weeds. If you see any of these weeds while visiting the battlefield, please notify the staff.

I’ll see you on Last Stand Hill.

Bob Reece

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.
He'll start around March 19 and is expected to be acting for 90-120 days. The timeframe is not certain, but a job announcement for a permanent manager at LIBI will follow. The Friends board of directors and its membership welcomes Mr. Sanchez to this position where we will assist him in any way possible.

We wish Ms. Hammond the best of luck. We will miss her.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.

Bob Reece

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.

In preparing a new fire management plan for Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the NPS seeks to adjust management direction from the previous plan by accommodating new national and NPS policies and new scientific information. More specifically, the purpose of the proposed fire management plan at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is to ensure the health and safety of the public, NPS staff, and firefighters; protect cultural and natural resources; use fire in a manner that maintains a healthy and sustainable ecosystem; and strengthen cooperative fire management partnerships.

An environmental assessment will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide the decision-making framework that 1) analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, 2) evaluates issues and impacts to monument resources and values, and 3) identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.

The NPS encourages public participation throughout the planning process. There will be two opportunities to comment formally on the project—once during initial project scoping and again following release of the environmental assessment. The NPS is currently in the scoping phase of the proposed project. Please submit written suggestions, comments, and concerns regarding the project by April 13, 2012 online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: 

Written comments also may be sent to:

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
ATTN: Melana Stichman
P.O. Box 39
Crow Agency, MT 59022-0039

If you have questions about the project or would like more information, please contact Melana Stichman, NEPA Specialist / Resource Management, at (406) 638-3225 or

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
Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study Team
Attn: Jenny Staroska
National Park Service Denver Service Center
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287

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.
2. $2,200 for the annual contract for the cell phone guided tours. Numbered signs, with the cell phone number, are posted throughout the battlefield. When the cell is called, the visitor hears a brief recording about what happened in that area of the battlefield.
3. $2,400 to sponsor a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for one summer.
4. $1,000 to sponsor the Junior Ranger program. This program is available at many Park Service sites, but at the battlefield, it is going through a complete reboot. It is managed by Park Ranger Jerry Jasmer, former Friends board member, and from what I’ve seen of it so far, it is outstanding.
5. $400 for a backpack sprayer for watering/weed control at restored sites. This sprayer is needed badly since so many invasive weeds and grasses are consuming the battlefield.

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.

More information after the jump.

October 27, 2011 -- "State of the National Parks 2011" Released

***** Update December 7, 2011 *****

Added the report, "Made in America: Investing in National Parks for Our Heritage and Our Economy"

             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.

Full Report

Executive Summary


Visit the National Park Report Site

October 12, 2011 -- Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Announces Publication of "Uncovering History: The Legacy of Archeological Investigations at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument”

You might recall that in 2009 Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield donated $10,000.00 to the battlefield for Dr. Douglas Scott to complete the much needed archeological assessment. His report chronicles all the archeological surveys, both professional and amateur, conducted at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. For more details please jump here.

I’m happy to report that the Friends’ board approved signing a contract with the University of Oklahoma Press to publish the archeological assessment as written by Dr. Scott.

The hardback book, "Uncovering History: The Legacy of Archeological Investigations at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument” has a tentative publication date for spring 2013. Friends will receive royalty payments for the life of the book, while in print, which will provide Friends more opportunities to help the battlefield.

I expect a high demand for the book across the realm of Custer and History Buffs because battlefield archeology at Little Bighorn Battlefield has always struck a deep interest with the public. Of course, we will keep you informed of the progress of this publication.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill.

Bob Reece


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”

Order Ghost Herder Here

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.

Jump Here To See More Photos

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.

I tip my hat to the continued great work that Ms. Johnson is doing in managing the battlefield during Ms. Hammond's maternity leave.

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.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,

Ms. Johnson notes:

"I am working hard to see if we can get the trail open for Anniversary. We are working up gravel and matting quantities today and our maintenance crew is heading over to the gravel pit today to determine if we have a source available there. I also am working to determine if we can get a Montana Conservation Corps Crew out for a week to put the mat and gravel in. We need some longer term fixes - like water bars, better design, and perhaps a binder on top - but my goal is a short term fix for Anniversary that won't require a redo later. The entire length of the trail is impacted. We also sent our archeologist out already and have coordinated with the THPO on our emergency repair activities. Attached are a couple of compelling photos - the damage is the complete length of the trail. The flood exceeded the 500 year flood, which is good news only from the standpoint that we can GPS the high water mark and use that in our site planning for a replacement facility. I look forward to meeting you later this month."

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.

I’ve never seen the LBH in flood stage at this level. Neither has Donahue. He said huge trees are floating down the river. Medicine Tail Coulee has water flowing in it; Donahue told me it looks like the LBH on a normal day. Trees have rammed into the Real Bird reenactment area. Do not know level of damage at this time.

Portions of the Deep Ravine bank have caved in.

Keep an eye on the battlefield’s webcams. Go here.

Donahue tried to send me photos from his IPhone, but there are problems with the service at this time. He’ll try later. We’ll keep you informed.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,

Bob Reece

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

Go Here For More Photos

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:

Life in the U.S. in 1876 by John Doerner

Road to the Little Bighorn Timeline

Cpl John Foley

Arikara Scouts

Comanche --  Lone Survivor

Soldiers and Warriors

Frontier Military Posts

Fetterman Soldier Found On Last Stand Hill

Horse Cemetery Excavated

John Doerner Remembers Doug Keller

D. F. Barry photo comparison of Last Stand Hill

Winter at Little Bighorn

Inside the fence

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
from NPS-LIBI after almost 21 years. As I write this I want to let each and everyone know that I am so very grateful for your friendship, kindness, prayers, and support that you have given me all these years. I am truly
fortunate and blessed to have worked at this very special place. A place that is dear to my heart and soul, and unlike any other place on this earth. A place that bonds all of us to a common story of epic struggle
here on 25-26 June 1876 during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. An all powerful cultural landscape that witnessed a horrific battle of supreme sacrifice, bravery and courage under fire; a place of self-lessness, of
sacrifice of ones life for what one believed in and to protect their women and children and elders; bravery to fight for their fellow brother in arms; a place where two cultures met and fought for what they felt was
right and just, to protect their culture and their way of life, knowing that in doing so, they may forfeit theirs. For that and for future generations who visit here, that must never be forgotten. The battlefield is a place that must be preserved and protected. It is a place that one can reflect back on the events that took place here and return again and again with their family, especially their children and remember with great pride and with great sadness what occurred here on these peaceful ridges in 1876.

I will treasure the fond memories that I experienced here for the rest of my life and hope that people will remember me in a good way and that I did my utmost to interpret the battle better for all visitors and for future generations to recognize Cheyenne and Sioux , and 7th Cavalry and Arikara Scout, and 7th Cavalry Horse casualties with fitting markers so that they are honored and remembered by all that visit this special place.

John A. Doerner
Chief Historian (Retired)
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

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.

Read FAQ's regarding the temporary move of the archives and collections.

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, which includes more than 123,000 historical archive items and nearly 26,000 historic objects and specimens, will go to the NPS’s Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC), a premier preservation and storage facility in Tucson, AZ. The temporary relocation will not include museum items and photographs already on display in the monument visitor center, where they will remain on exhibit. The transfer of the rest of the collections is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

“This is great news for such a significant and irreplaceable collection,” said Kate Hammond, superintendent of the monument, which preserves the site of one of the most famous and iconic battles of the 19th-century Indian Wars on America’s western frontier. “We recognize the historical and cultural value of these priceless objects and archives. This temporary relocation will keep the collection together and available for researchers, in the best possible place for its protection and conservation until it can come home to a new museum facility.”

Park Service and monument officials decided to move the Little Bighorn collection because of the potential for irreversible deterioration of items or catastrophic loss by fire or flood in its present, substandard location – the basement of the park’s small and outdated visitor center.

“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.”

Wessels said the Park Service and the monument will press forward with efforts to build a new visitor center and museum collection facility at Little Bighorn so the collection can return in improved condition for proper, permanent storage and display. The monument’s 1986 General Management Plan calls for construction of these facilities outside the present park boundaries, which include only 765 acres of the battlefield’s 12,000 acres. New facilities would provide the room needed to convey more fully the causes and consequences of one of the nation’s most important and symbolic cultural and military conflicts.

“We are committed to concerted negotiations with the Crow Tribe, the Custer Battlefield Preservation Committee, and others interested in the monument’s future,” Wessels said. “A renewed collaboration with our partners to give these invaluable objects and archives a proper new home would enhance enormously how we tell the story and the lessons of Little Bighorn.”

Superintendent Hammond added: “We understand how important this collection is to the people of Montana, historians and the tribes associated with Little Bighorn. Every step we take in this process is for the sake of preserving the collection and its ultimate return to the battlefield.”

NPS regional experts in museum and archive management examined the possibility of storing the collection closer to Little Bighorn. Two NPS locations in the Montana-Wyoming area – Yellowstone National Park, and Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site west of Helena – were studied but do not have the space or staff to care properly for the collection and provide access for researchers. Non-Park Service locations also were considered, but numerous logistical, staffing, security and management issues made them less preferable than WACC.

During their time at the center, the collection and archives will have the advantage of museum-quality storage, conservation laboratories and a staff of professional curators, conservators and archivists. Many center staffers have more than a decade of experience working with the Little Bighorn collection. After unpacking and organizing the collection for re-storage, WACC staff will begin a long-term preservation effort on high-priority items and objects. The monument and WACC are committed to resuming access to the collection by researchers in summer of 2012, after the collection has been re-situated in its temporary home.

“We are not looking to keep this collection here forever,” said Tef Rodeffer, manager of the Museum Services Program for the Intermountain Region. “We want the collection to be in really good shape when Little Bighorn is ready to receive it back home, where it belongs.”

At present, some of the Little Bighorn collection is deteriorating, much of it is inadequately stored, and all of it is under threat of accidental damage or destruction. Most of the 149,000 artifacts and archival items have been stored for decades in the basement of the monument’s 52-year-old visitor center, a space never designed or equipped for museum storage.

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 practices.”

The decision for temporary relocation came after monument staff conducted an extensive “public engagement” process to discuss key park issues, including the museum collection, an insufficient and outdated visitor center, parking and roads, and protecting more of the battlefield lands.

“In those meetings and public comments, we heard repeatedly that Little Bighorn’s museum collection is highly important and needs to be protected,” Hammond said. “Now, we are acting to do exactly that. The collection cannot afford to wait any longer.”

In fact, about 30,000 Little Bighorn archives already are at WACC to undergo conservation work, cataloging and conversion to digital record formats for easier storage and public access. Those include U.S. 7th Cavalry documents, historic newspapers, and administrative records. As with the rest of the collection, these archives will return to the monument when it has adequate and secure space to store them.

Little Bighorn’s White Swan Memorial Library will remain at the monument in its present location, the historic “Stone House.” It is the largest publicly available research collection of literature on the battle, Lt. Col. George A. Custer, the Indian Wars and the Northern Plains tribes. It also is the first stop for anyone researching or seeking more information about Little Bighorn.

For more details about the monument’s collections, the results of the public engagement strategy, frequently asked questions about the move and other monument information, please visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield website.

Jump here to visit Western Archeological and Conservation Center.

For interview requests, please contact Kate Hammond, superintendent of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, at 406-638-2621.

February 23, 2011 Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Now Accepting Comments on Invasive Plant Management Plan Environmental Assessment --

Nonnative invasive or exotic species are considered one of the greatest threats to global biological diversity and are a threat to national park ecosystems. As a result, in accordance with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, the National Park Service (NPS) has developed an Environmental Assessment (EA) that presents two alternatives that would address nonnative invasive plant management in ten national parks located in the northern Rocky Mountains.

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.

The NPS encourages public participation throughout the planning process. The EA is currently undergoing a 45-day public review period. The NPS invites the public to submit written comments regarding the proposed project online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website, (PEPC project number 20520), or send email comments to: Written comments may also be sent to any of the parks involved in this plan. A complete copy of the EA can be found at the NPS PEPC website listed above. Please provide comments by April 11, 2011. We look forward to hearing from you.

For questions or comments relating to the specific NPS units please contact:

• Big Hole National Battlefield: Jimmer Stevenson (406) 689-3155 or Jason Lyon (208) 843-7017 (
• City of Rocks National Reserve: Kristen Bastis (208) 824-5519 (
• Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve: Steven Bekedam (208) 527- 1351 or John Apel (208) 527-1350 (
• Fossil Butte National Monument: Arvid Aase (307) 877-4455 (
• Golden Spike National Historic Site: Tammy Benson (435) 471-2209 ext.30 (
• Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site: Jason F. Smith (406) 846-2070 ext.242 (
• Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument: Jo Ann Blalack (208) 933-4115 or Ray Vader (208) 933-4142 (
• Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument: Melana Stichman (406) 638-3225 (
• Minidoka National Historic Site: Jo Ann Blalack (208) 933-4115 or Ray Vader (208) 933-4142 (
• Nez Perce NHP, Bear Paw Battlefield site: Jason Lyon (208) 843-7017 or Jannis Jocius (406) 689-3155 (

For questions about the overall development of this plan, please contact Sue Salmons, Liaison Exotic Plant Management Team (Northern Rocky Mountains) at (307) 344-2185.

Webmaster's Note: Jump here to access the EA.

October 8, 2010 Lane Anderson Appointed to Friends of the Little Bighorn Board of Directors --

I’m excited to announce our newest board member approved by the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield board. Lane Anderson is on the English Department Faculty at Yeshiva University where she teaches and also serves as the Assistant Director of the Writing Center. Lane holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she wrote her nonfiction thesis on the history of the Sioux/Cheyenne Wars and its echo in the modern-day West.

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,
Bob Reece

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.

Robert Utley

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.

For me, Mr. Utley has been a true confidant in regards to our organization’s business. I can always depend on his honesty and his extensive experience in the NPS for sound advice. There have been times in the past where he and I did not always agree; however we have never allowed such disagreements to stand in the way of our mission to help the battlefield.

I am excited to announce the publication of Mr. Utley’s personal website. Jump here to learn more about the man who has written extensively on Custer as well as many other subjects: Billy the Kid (his three books are my personal favorites on the subject); the Texas Rangers (two volumes); the U.S. frontier army; the plains Indians; Sitting Bull; the American mountain man; and soon Geronimo. Good luck with the new site, Bob.

I'll see you on Last Stand Hill,
Bob Reece

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.

I’m pleased to announce that by majority vote, the Board of Directors has approved the funds necessary for this project to move ahead.

“That is wonderful news - thank you!” said Kate Hammond, Little Bighorn Battlefield Superintendent, when hearing of the voting results. Dr. Douglas Scott, project leader, told us, “Thanks again for your kind support of the oxbow survey.”

The survey is currently scheduled for this summer or fall, and will take two to three days of field work. Another product of the project will be a report on the findings, a background of the entire river area of the park and recommendations for future survey projects along or near the river. Time permitting; the team will survey a portion of the next oxbow downstream, some of which lies below the mouth of Deep Ravine.

Our thanks go to Supt. Hammond for presenting us with this opportunity to support the battlefield in new and compelling research. The result of this type of survey is never certain, but loss of this area to the river is. Ascertaining the archeological significance of this ground is a worthy use of our organization’s resources.

I hope to see many of you at the battlefield this June 24th and 25th!

(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.

Deby humidified this flag to soften its creases. She realigned the broken areas and stabilized the flag with an adhesive applied to Stabletex® (a sheer polyester fabric), which was applied to the flag’s surface as a lining. Areas of loss were filled with cotton fabric, dyed close to the flag’s color. Once the flag was stabilized, it was framed using a pressure mounting technique and acrylic glazing.

Should this fragile flag ever be placed on exhibit, the park was advised not to leave it on display for long periods of time, and that exhibit light level should not exceed five foot candles.

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:

I have been coordinating the important LIBI flag project in Sharon Small's absence (Chief Curator Sharon Small who returned to her job December 21st – see note below dated December 3rd) and packed the flags carefully for shipment to Harper’s Ferry Center (HFC) last month in a special archival crate. Both will have archival pressure mounted frames for long-term storage.

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:

The flags were conserved and mounted in new protective display cases by the conservators at HFC. The photos were taken as we unpacked the protective cases. The flags are now safely ensconced in the vault at the visitor center curation facility.

Sharon Small shared with me the experience of opening the flags at their return:

Yes, it was a very exciting morning. The guidon and the standard were delivered by an 18-wheeler! I asked Jerry to take photos while we opened the grates. The truck driver and friend assisted in that process. The friend had her camera and asked to take photos as well. She plans to send her photos to me but I imagine that will take a few days while they travel back to Maryland.

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.

Future Projects

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.

We have several additional projects approved that will begin when we collect enough entrance fees to fund them, including some upgrades to the park water system and park security system and the development of a cultural landscape report.

We also have funding from other NPS sources (not our entrance fees) for two additional projects:

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.

And, of course, John Doerner is working with Doug Scott on the completion of the Archeological Overview and Assessment, funded generously through Friends.

Reported by Bob Reece

December 8, 2010 -- Special message to Friends members from Superintendent Kate Hammond that appeared in our October 2009 newsletter.

Dear Friends-

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.

As the weather warmed, school groups began arriving (April and May) and our summer seasonal staff began to arrive. It was a joy to finally meet the many dedicated staff who loyally return every summer to work at Little Bighorn, and to see some new faces of seasonals who were spending their first summer here. My first anniversary also brought the opportunity to meet some of the Friends' membership, including many who graciously donated their time and energy to provide roving interpretation on the battlefield trails over anniversary weekend. Over the course of the weekend, and particularly at the Friends feast on Saturday evening, I had the chance to sit down and visit with many of you. Your passion and enthusiasm for the battlefield is inspiring, as is your can-do attitude. Thank you for all that you do! As I mentioned at the Friends feast, we welcome any of you to come volunteer at the battlefield. We generally ask for a commitment of at least a month; housing may be available if you come between fall and spring. Contact Ken Woody if you are interested.

One of many special projects that we did this summer was to convene a review of our cultural resources program at Little Bighorn. In June, we hosted a several-day visit by many of the program leaders from our NPS regional office to discuss activities and needs at the battlefield related to archeology, history, cultural landscapes, ethnography, curation, etc. It was a very beneficial exercise, and generated a list of potential projects that would help us better manage and protect our cultural resources. One of the priorities that surfaced was completion of an Archeological Overview and Assessment, which is a document that synthesizes the archeological work that has been done at the battlefield in the past and what the results were, and provides a list of recommended projects/needs for archeology at the battlefield in the future. This will allow us to take a more comprehensive, proactive approach to archeology, and allow us to identify some priorities and then seek funding to accomplish them. Archeologist Doug Scott has begun a draft of such a document prior to his retirement from full-time NPS work, but was not able to finish it.

I had hoped that we might be able to cobble together funding to complete the Archeological Overview and Assessment by requesting some seed money from Friends and then leveraging that to apply for some grants. Much to my surprise, when I approached Bob Reece with the idea, he was not only enthusiastic, but suggested that he contact the board about funding the whole project. Holy cow! Within a week, I had an email back from Bob saying Friends had agreed to fund the completion of the Archeological Overview and Assessment and when did I want the check? If only all funding requests in the government were that positive and that timely!

I wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to all Friends members for your support of this important project, which will give us tools that we need to more effectively and proactively manage archeological research and archeological resources at Little Bighorn Battlefield.

Hope to see you all at the battlefield soon!



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,

Bob Reece

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,

Bob Reece

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