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Friends Summer Events 2009 -- 133rd Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn
By Mike Semenock
Last Stand Hill -- Sunset, June 27, 2009
Friends held its events at Little Bighorn Battlefield this year on Friday and Saturday June 26-27. Friday started off to be one of the coolest days experienced in a number of years with temps in the 70s. The whole day was cloudy with light rain off and on. The Friends command post was set up in the theater of the visitor center. One of our first visitors in the command post was a snake making his way from one spot to another. It was a baby bull snake which found its way back outside with the assistance of one of the park rangers.
Friends Volunteer to Interpret the Battle to Visitors
Friends members started showing up first thing in the morning to sign in, get
their schedule for interpreting the battle, and then head out to the
trails to tell visitors about the battle. The volunteer battle
interpreters covered all the trails and Last Stand Hill again this year,
discussing the battle with visitors and answering countless questions.
Some of the regulars were tied up with other activities, but an influx of
new volunteers helped maintain a healthy contingent. We welcomed Ryan Trainor from Pennsylvania. Ryan is a history graduate from Loyola College
in Maryland. Ruth Rohde returned for her second year. Former park
employee, interpreter, and Little Bighorn College librarian Tim Bernardis
volunteered for the first time. He was glad to be interpreting the battle
to the visitors again. Back for her second year but first time volunteer
was Lane Anderson from New York. From over the pond came Kevin Galvin of
London. The brief periods of drizzle didn't deter our dauntless team of
trail-tending historians. Saturday, though a bit breezy, was sunny and
After fixing the cams, Bob and I then met with Ken Woody in the visitor center bookstore to find space for us to install a Friends kiosk. The kiosk will be a permanent display for visitors to pick up Friends brochures. It will be located just inside the entrance to the visitor center and above the registration log. I’ll build the kiosk and install it next June. There has not been much exposure for Friends inside the visitor center, so this should help change that for the better.
Friday Evening – “Superintendent Edward Luce: Memories of Little Bighorn”
We presented an encore viewing of the documentary showcasing some of the Luce home movies he filmed while managing the battlefield in the 1940s and 1950s. Turnout was good with a lot of new attendees. Many attending missed the first showing in 2006 but had heard about it. They didn’t want to miss it this time. The documentary was well received and many were moved, especially with the reinterment of the WW 2 dead in 1948.
Bob had also produced a 25 minute clip highlighting scenes not included in the final documentary. As we watched, Bob added live commentary during portions of the film.
Bob had asked Friends member, Scott Burgan to show the Luce movies to Joe Medicine Crow in the privacy of his home in hopes Joe might identify some of the people that had not been identified by Robert Utley and Jerry Greene (both helped in the making of the Luce documentary). Scott filmed Joe as he watched the movies. Bob surprised the guests and finished the evening with another short seven minute film, which Bob produced, highlighting some of the better moments from Joe Medicine Crow watching the unedited Luce home movies. Scott attended and shared with the audience some of his experiences with Joe Medicine Crow. (Webmaster's Note: We have learned that on August 12, Joe Medicine Crow will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington, D.C.)
Saturday – Friends Feast and General Membership Meeting
This evening we held our general membership meeting and Friends Feast behind the administration building. We served superb Indian Tacos prepared by Julie Elkshoulder of Lame Deer.
Superintendent Kate Hammond shared with the membership background of her
experience with the Park Service as well as some of the challenges she’s
facing as manager of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. She
graciously thanked each volunteer by name along with a nice gift to thank
us for the work we did for the NPS this weekend. Superintendent Hammond
has hit the floor running in her new assignment and has already
established a solid working relationship with the Friends organization.
Ranger Tom Smith
In attendance was historian Mike Donahue who published Drawing Battle Lines which is one of the most important books about the battle in the last 25 years. His book was one of the prizes for our raffle, which we held after the meeting. We had over 20 prizes that were mostly 1st edition books signed by the authors. Bob sent an email to some of the best historians writing about the battle or the American West asking if they would donate something from their collection for the raffle. The response was mind-blowing and the winners were very lucky. Jump here to see a list of the winners and the prizes won.
So make your plans for next year and don't miss the opportunity to share your passion about Little Bighorn. Before leaving the battlefield I signed agreements with the National Weather Service and the Affiliated Brotherhood of Mosquitoes Union that will guarantee next year's visit to have pleasant weather and be bug-free. Negotiations with the snakes are underway, but they're never a problem anyway.
Final Words from Bob Reece
Thank you to all the volunteers who worked hard on the trails those two days in June. You helped enhance the visitor's experience while visiting the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
I cannot impress upon our members enough how gracious and generous Superintendent Kate Hammond has been with Friends. She really cares about Friends and is appreciative for what we do to support NPS at Little Bighorn. She and I had time before the general membership meeting for me to suggest some ideas for Friends to do next year that would be a blast for Friends. We can’t announce those at this time, but we’ll let you know the details once Kate and I have the chance to work through a few particulars. Needless to say, we feel confident to have some nice surprises for Friends members next year.
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022