When we made our fuel stop at the native owned station outside the Monument, we saw this line of riders headed up the hill. We decided that they must have been performing at some sort of festival.
We as we entered the Monument grounds, we found them assembled across from the Visitors' Center.
By then we understood that today, June 25th was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (which the Natives call the Battle of Greasy Grass Ridge). Special ceremonies and reenactments were being held all weekend. The gates opened early at 5:30 for a 6 am sunrise Pipe Ceremony. From 8 am to 5 pm Friends of the Little Bighorn volunteers were throughout the grounds to answer questions and explain events. At 10 am, just before we arrived, the Bighorn Riders "Attack at Dawn" took place. followed by ceremonies that could be viewed from the Visitors' Center. On the Visitor Center Patio from 9 am to noon, Native descendants of battle participants spoke and held small demonstrations.
After our tour we found a quiet place to eat lunch across from Custer National Cemetery.
We mounted up and rode through the Monument for pictures we weren't able to take from the tour bus. Exiting the park we again encountered the riders. Seeing them like this--looking like regular 21st century people right down to the bluejeans, sunglasses and cell phones, made me wonder what the warriors who fought here would think. Their markers on the battlefield read that they died 'while defending their homeland and the Sioux way of life. After the battle the tribes and families scattered, but most of them returned to the reservations and the others surrendered in the next few years and their Crow enemies live here. Was it all for nothing?
Exiting the park we opted to take US 87 back to Wyoming. On the way home we wanted to see a different side of the Reservation. Also we hoped to be a bit more sheltered from the ferocious wind. It worked. I90 is to the left behind a ridge that served as a wind break. The ride home was much more pleasant when we weren't fighting to keep our seats.
I kept wondering about the frequent groups of bee boxes, until I remembered that vast quantities of hay are produced here.
We hope that you have been inspired to visit this battlefield for yourself. Pictures can do only so much. You have to be in a place to truly understand.
Louise and Duane