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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
A Northern Cheyenne Album
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A Northern Cheyenne Album
Edited by Dr. Margot Liberty
Book Review by Bob Reece, October 2006
Webmaster’s Note: Friends' member Dr. Margot Liberty and her friend John Stands In Timber published their first book Cheyenne Memories in the 1950s, which is still in print. In their book, Liberty and Timber were the first to suggest that Custer's troops moved much further north than the current Custer National Cemetery during the Custer Battle. Most importantly, during their friendship Liberty and Timber identified many sites where warriors fell during the Little Bighorn Battle. Because of their dedicated efforts warrior markers are now placed on the battlefield.
Liberty has granted Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield first choice to publish her most recent paper, "Cheyenne Primacy" which provides new ideas regarding the Sioux (Cheyenne) War of 1876. Liberty's most recent book is A Northern Cheyenne Album.
All excerpts from A Northern Cheyenne Album, copyright by Dr. Margot Liberty and University of Oklahoma Press.
Even though they’re long gone, these Cheyenne people seem very alive as they stare back at you from across expanses of time through photos captured by Thomas Marquis. Not only their expressions, but their clothing, their actions, and their ceremonies are frozen in a brief moment to reveal life’s heartbeat during the early years on the Northern Cheyenne reservation.
William Harris and Family
Well-known anthropologist Dr. Margot Liberty, who published Cheyenne Memories with John Stands In Timber, gives us an early Christmas present through her extraordinary book, A Northern Cheyenne Album that contains Marquis’ black and white photos of the Cheyenne people. The vast majority of these photos have never been published, so as you turn each page you’ll discover another fascinating surprise.
Marquis was serving as doctor and historian researcher of the Custer Battle in the 1920s when he traveled throughout the reservation in his Model-T with camera in hand. The Cheyenne people loved and trusted Marquis, so they allowed him to enter their homes and way of life while freely posing for his camera.
Each Custer and Little Bighorn Battle enthusiast understands Marquis’ role in researching the Custer Battle. This book is important to each of them because it includes many photos of warriors who fought in the battle as well as some noncombatants. Along with their photos are accounts of Custer’s troop movements north of the current Custer National Cemetery.
Stump Horn holds a carbine he captured at the Battle of the Little Bighorn
For students interested in cultural studies or the Cheyenne people this book provides a wealth of material. Cheyenne leaders caption each photo. The editors at the University of Oklahoma Press made the right decision when they chose not to edit the captions, so we experience the complexity, beauty, and sound of the Cheyenne language. Margot Liberty provides an additional caption that adds historical context and cultural understanding to each photo subject.
The quality of these photos is superb. Each photo takes up nearly one page of a 9¼ X 9¼ size book. Contrast, brightness, and shadows are at exceptional levels; we practically look into the hearts and minds of the Cheyenne people. They seem to reach out to us from across time.
Most importantly, A Northern Cheyenne Album reveals just how well the Cheyenne people adjusted to early reservation life. We are invited to their rodeos, social gatherings, and religious ceremonies. We visit their schools and see children during recess playing basketball. We witness their pride and strength in family as the first generation from Little Bighorn Battle warriors are born and grow into adulthood. We learn how they work to make a living and how hard they play. The result is we finally, really understand why they sacrificed so many lives to escape their forced exile in Oklahoma in order to establish their reservation in southeastern Montana.
Men play the stick game during the Lame Deer fair and rodeo
We should be thankful for Marquis giving his time and resources to share with us the Cheyenne people in everyday life. We also owe Dr. Liberty gratitude for finally bringing the photos into the 21st century in the form of this book. Her labor of love and dedication to this project is truly a gift to us; she receives no royalties from the book to ensure its high-quality presentation. A Northern Cheyenne Album is a treasure that you will refer to over and over again.
Sun Bear holds the knife he used during the Fetterman & Little Bighorn Battles
Following is a list of Little Bighorn Battle warriors and noncombatants (NC) whose photos are included in A Northern Cheyenne Album:
Kate Big Head (NC)
Bob Tail Horse
Maud Arapaho Chief (NC)
Isaac Black Bird (NC)
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022