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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
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All photos © Bob Reece unless otherwise noted
This year has been a great one for the Friends and thanks goes out to our members. Our campaign to raise funds for 2005 was a success. Due to generous contributions from our members, which included matching contributions from their employers, and sales from new products sold in the visitor center bookstore we reached our goal of $5,000. I can’t thank you enough.
The results are visible throughout the battlefield whenever you gaze upon one of the four new warrior markers for Cut Belly, Little Whirl Wind, Closed Hand, and Limber Bones. Thanks to your contributions we were able to fully support the National Park Service in the placement of these markers on June 25, 2005.
Those Friends’ volunteers that journeyed to southeastern Montana from all parts of the U.S. started the weekend on Friday, June 24 by assisting the NPS with interpretation of the battle for the visiting public. Interpretation was given along the Keogh/Crazy Horse and Deep Ravine Trails. Feedback from the public was awesome, so to all the volunteers a BIG thanks for a job well done.
Who were our members who worked so hard on the trails?
Our volunteer managers kept things running smoothly and all the bases covered. Thank you Carol Near and Nancy Marteney.
What I'm thankful for when looking at the photos of the volunteers is the number of young people that are members. The Friends has the largest number of our younger generation per capita than any other Custer organization. I'm stumped as to why, but I won't complain.
The NPS generously allowed the Friends use of apartment C as its base of operations. We had central air condition, full kitchen, a quiet place to retreat from the heat and rest between shifts.
Chief of Interpretation Ken Woody’s hero for the weekend was Ron Thomas. Ken Woody had just received back from New Mexico, for repairs, the touch screen kiosk. However, it didn’t work!! Whenever one touched an item on the screen, the page wouldn’t appear. Ron is a computer whiz, so he was asked to look it over.
Ron sat down and started breezing through one Window’s screen after another. Soon he discovered missing mouse drivers. The computer reads the user’s finger touching the screen as a mouse. Ron got online and downloaded the proper drivers, installed them, rebooted the system and it worked beautifully. The kiosk was back in its proper place in the bookstore for all visitors to use and worked like a charm. Thanks Ron for a job well done.
Ceremonies at Last Stand Hill
Saturday morning, June 25th, began with the Northern Cheyenne annual prayer for world peace ceremony on Battle Ridge. At 10:00 A.M., the parade procession to Last Stand Hill began from the Stone House. This included color guards from the various tribes that fought in the battle. The parade marched up the road, led by drummers and singers, with visitors joining in along the way.
The procession ended inside the sacred circle of the Indian Memorial. Superintendent Darrell Cook welcomed everyone there. The speakers included Dolan Many Badhorses, Northern Cheyenne; Ernie LaPointe, Minniconjou -- Sitting Bull’s grandson; Floyd Clown, Great Sioux Nation -- descendent of the Crazy Horse family; and Bob Reece, President Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Reece related the story of the suicide boys.
Photos by Megan Reece
New Warrior Markers Ceremony
At 3:00 P.M. the Northern Cheyenne along with Friends Vice President Clifford Long Sioux Eagle Feathers and board member Winfield Russell hosted a special ceremony in honor of the suicide boys. Winfield had just arrived leading his Northern Cheyenne horse riders for their annual ride from Busby.
The Northern Cheyenne also honored Superintendent Darrell Cook and Chief Historian, John Doerner with beautiful wool blankets, which is a high honor in the Plains Indian culture.
The ceremony opened with the pledge of allegiance and a special rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" sung in Navajo by a young but vibrant singer.
Two groups of American Indian drummers and singers performed traditional songs for the growing crowd.
Warrior Markers Unveiled
Following this ceremony the crowd walked to the Stone House where the first of four new warrior markers were unveiled. This marker, which stands beside the Stone House, honors Cut Belly. The Northern Cheyenne asked John Doerner to tell the story of how Cut Belly was wounded but carried from the battlefield only to die later.
The markers for Limber Bones and Closed Hand are placed beside the sidewalk just before it forks to the right to enter the Indian Memorial from the east. Little Whirl Wind died fighting the Arikara scouts during the Valley Fight. His marker has been placed at the Reno-Benteen Defense Site.
Thom Ross Art Exhibit
From June 23-25, western artist Thom Ross held his unique art exhibit in Medicine Tail Ford. The same ridge where Dustin Hoffman’s Jack Crab almost died in the movie “Little Big Man” served as a huge canvas for Ross’s 200 life-size figures. We have provided more detail and photos for you elsewhere on our site.
Friends General Membership Meeting
On June 25th at 6:00 P.M., the Friends held its annual general membership meeting in the conference room on the 2nd floor of the administration building. Superintendent Darrell Cook attended as well as seasonal park ranger and Friends’ board member Jerry Jasmer.
Diane Merkel attended in place of Friends’ secretary Chuck Merkel. Chuck wanted to attend but he was at a reunion of his Vietnam helicopter crew in Washington, D.C. Diane presented a check to the Friends from the sale of the last of our 2000 Indian Memorial Run T-shirts. Thanks to Diane and Chuck for following through on those sales. Diane works hard. She is the Webmaster for the LBHA message board and handles their sales as well.
Good thing the meeting took place inside because we were well sheltered from a heavy Montana thunder and lightning storm. Superintendent Darrell Cook gave an update to the road construction and proposed visitor center expansion. He thanked the continued support of the Friends organization and especially the volunteers who assist the NPS with interpretation along the trails. He also stated that he looks forward to working closely with the Friends over the next year. He encouraged everyone to come back for the 130th anniversary in 2006.
Bob Reece reported that the Friends are very healthy financially. We have had great success with the sale of our postcards, bookmarks, T-Shirts, and caps in the visitor center bookstore. We are completing our third order for T-Shirts and caps in less than one month.
Reece also reported that he is planning a big event for the 130th and suggested that everyone get their motel reservations in early so as not to miss it.
The Friends still have one more project to support the NPS for 2005 – the new web cams. Thanks to the LBHA partnering with the Friends we made this goal. New webcams -- coming soon.
We also want to thank the generosity of the NPS and Western National Parks Association. They provided a great lunch for the volunteers both days. In addition to that, they presented each volunteer with a comfortable winter vest, which includes a Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument logo of crossed swallowtail flag and crooked lance. Ken Woody, Chief of Interpretation, presented the volunteers with a book of their choice from the bookstore.
Again, thank you to all our members and, especially, our volunteers who worked hard June 24-25, 2005.
Photos by Megan Reece
5 PM Memorial Service
At about the same time the last of Custer's soldiers were meeting their fate a memorial service and placement of a wreath was conducted at the 7th Cavalry Monument. Steve Alexander was there in full Custer outfit getting there moments after he met his fate in the battlefield reenactment at Medicine Tail Ford. Steve was covered in yellow war paint -- looked like he had a rough time of it.
Steve was nice enough to take photos with Friends' members. On a side note -- Steve and I had time to sit down together in Hardin, which was very unusual for either of us to have the time for such visits. I have a lot of respect for the man -- he's sincere in telling the story of Custer and shows great respect to the Indian community. Look for Steve on television -- I think he's on it more than Brad Pitt.
Superintendent Darrell Cook allowed Steve and his officers to ride up to Last Stand Hill on horseback. I asked one of the cavalryman how it felt to be at that spot at that time. He was speechless.
United Sales and Services Brokerage, Denver, Colorado provided BIOTA bottled water for the volunteers. Thank you very much.
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022