A history lesson at Little Bighorn, biting bugs and an amazing pow-wow.

Crow Agency Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 12 › view all entries
Hardin, MT

         We got up, ate breakfast at the Purple Cow, and headed out to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I had read when planning the trip that you could take a tour that was given by a Native American from the nearby Crow Reservation so that was my quest for the day. We got to the battlefield visitor center and what luck the tour was offered right there. The tour company is called Apsaalooke Tours and it is run by the Little Bighorn College. We signed up for the first tour of the day and we had just enough time to look thru the visitor center museum.

     Some history on the Battle of Little Bighorn if you’re interested, (if not skip this cause it's long, when I learn something new I feel the need to pass the info along).

Mom on the Apsaalooke Tour.
In the summer of 1875 large numbers of Indians had begun to move off the reservation land, as a result the government had decided that it would launch a campaign to begin rounding them up. Colonel John Gibbons, Brig. General George Crooke and Brig. General Alfred Terry moved out from different forts in the Montana, Wyoming and Dakota Territories with the plan of sweeping the Indians back onto the reservations. General Crooke encountered a large number of Indians on June 17, 1875 in what turned into the Battle of the Rosebud, his company was forced to halt and regroup. This information was did not reach Brig. Gen’s Gibbons and Terry and they continued on. The 7th Calvary and Custer split from the others on June 22, 1875 with orders to follow what appeared to be a large Indian trail.
Kerry being shy
On June 25, 1875 Custer was alerted to that there was a large Indian Encampment roughly 15 miles away and that several Indians had come across his men’s tracks. He decided at that point to attack the village. Custer split his regiment into 3 separate ones, he took a portion of the men and followed the ridge line to try and enter the village at the north end, Maj. Marcus Reno took a second detachment with the goal of trying and provoking a battle to cause a distraction. Capt. Frederick Benteen lead the third and final group with orders to scout the nearby valleys and to engage any Indians he encountered. He later received a message from Custer to return with ammunition as the Indian camp was large.

     Reno’s detachment was the first to attack, they were grossly outnumbered and retreated to the bluffs.

Me and Frances Takes Enemies our Apsaalooke Guide.
Benteen’s group met up with what was left of Reno’s command but instead of heading back to reinforce Custer’s group he stayed and reinforced Reno’s. A small group of soldiers went against orders and headed out to make contact with Custer and his group but by the time they got to what is now know as Last Stand Hill, Custer and everyone with him were dead. The only survivor of Custer’s battalion was Comanche a Calvary horse that belonged to Capt. Keogh who was killed in the battle. The battle took place on June 25 and June 26 1876.

     There was speculation after the battle that Reno had completely lost his command and panicked and that Benteen had stayed to help Reno due to his reluctance to help Custer and there is still varying opinions on why Custer split them into 3 separate battalions.

Little Bighorn Battlefield
It is considered one of the worst military disasters ever. The story of the battle is very interesting if you’re a history buff (which I obviously am) and if you are ever in the area it is definitely worth a trip.

     In addition to the Apsaalooke Tours there are Ranger Talks offered numerous times a day and you can drive the 5 mile battlefield road that has markers all around to tell you where things happened. We decided to listen to a ranger talk after we finished the tour and then re-drive the battlefield to look at markers that we has missed on the tour. It’s very well laid out in my opinion and you can almost picture the Indian encampment by the river and the Calvary officers planning their strategy. All around the battlefield are stones where soldiers, Indians and Indian scouts fell on the battlefield.

The Indian encampment sign
 

      Right up from the visitor’s center is Last Stand Hill, where Custer and his men fell, the area is fenced in but you can still see his marker in the grass. The bodies are not buried there but the stones mark where they fell on the battlefield. Across the street from there is the horse cemetery where they buried all the horse bones they found as well as a marker. Custer had ordered all the horses be shot so that they could use their bodies to take cover. A little further down is the new Indian Memorial that commemorates the Native American tribes that took place in the battle.

    The only complaint that I had about Little Bighorn (which nothing can change) is that up by Reno-Benteen monument there were these little tiny bugs that attached themselves to you and bit like crazy!! Maybe I should have paid better attention to the recommendation to bring bug spray, lol.

Looking down where the Indian encampment would have been

     After the battlefield we headed over to the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, another little museum with a ton of information, exhibits and a short movie. After we went to eat at the Custer Trading Post and I had my first ever Indian Taco! It’s all the normal taco fixings only it’s on Indian fry bread, amazing!! Our final stop for the night was at the Crow Fair in Crow Agency.

     The Crow Fair is a huge pow-wow on the Crow Reservation, we didn’t realize that it was going on until the owner of our hotel told us about it. I used to go to pow-wow’s all the time when I was in college, but I had never been to one that was this big.

Again
..not big HUGE. They say that the Crow Fair is the teepee capital of the world and let me tell you I can see why. There were teepees everywhere, as far as the eye could see. We got there just in time for the Grand Entry. I always loved the grand entry because you got to see all the traditional costumes in addition to the fancy ones, such beautiful colors and designs. There were so many small children there participating in the activities. It was nice to see that, and you know how I feel about monsters..I mean children. Hopefully these kids are going to grow up with a firm grasp of their heritage. We didn’t stay that long about 2 hours or so then we decided to go back to the Western, it had been a very informative, exciting and long day.

 

WaltJake says:
Great view on Little Bighorn! I've been there twice. The Native American memorial had been added by the second time I went. Glad they are being honored as well, since they died bravely defending their homeland!
Posted on: Nov 30, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Hardin, MT
Hardin, MT
Mom on the Apsaalooke Tour.
Mom on the Apsaalooke Tour.
Kerry being shy
Kerry being shy
Me and Frances Takes Enemies our A…
Me and Frances Takes Enemies our …
Little Bighorn Battlefield
Little Bighorn Battlefield
The Indian encampment sign
The Indian encampment sign
Looking down where the Indian enca…
Looking down where the Indian enc…
Again
Again
A monument
A monument
Looking back at the Reno-Benteen b…
Looking back at the Reno-Benteen …
A marker
A marker
Cheyenne Marker sign
Cheyenne Marker sign
A trail thru the battlefield
A trail thru the battlefield
A Cheyenne Marker
A Cheyenne Marker
Reno-Benteen line
Reno-Benteen line
Horses on the battlefield.
Horses on the battlefield.
horses
horses
more
more
The lonely battlefield road
The lonely battlefield road
Battlefield road
Battlefield road
Looking up on Last Stand Hill
Looking up on Last Stand Hill
Last Stand Hill
Last Stand Hill
Lt. Col.George Armstrong Custers …
Lt. Col.George Armstrong Custer's…
Monument to those who were killed …
Monument to those who were killed…
The story of the horse cemetery
The story of the horse cemetery
The horse cemetery marker
The horse cemetery marker
Indian Memorial
Indian Memorial
Sitting Bull bust outside the Cust…
Sitting Bull bust outside the Cus…
A bust of Custer at the Custer Bat…
A bust of Custer at the Custer Ba…
Custer Battlefield Museum
Custer Battlefield Museum
Custer Trading Post
Custer Trading Post
Custer Trading Post
Custer Trading Post
Crow Fair
Crow Fair
The Grand Entry
The Grand Entry
Crow Fair
Crow Fair
Me at the Purple Cow
Me at the Purple Cow
The Purple Cow outside the Purple …
The Purple Cow outside the Purple…
Crow Agency
photo by: WaltJake