Rows and rows of white headstones, often with an American flag carefully placed at the base of each one, are a common image on Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States. This morning – Memorial Day – I found myself thinking about my visit to Little Bighorn National Monument early in May and realized I had photos of rows and rows of white headstones.
Away from the cemetery are gravestones to mark where men fell in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought along the ridges, steep bluffs, and ravines of the Little Bighorn River, in south-central Montana on June 25-26, 1876. The combatants were warriors of the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, battling men of the 7th Regiment of the US Cavalry. The Battle of the Little Bighorn has come to symbolize the clash of two vastly dissimilar cultures: the buffalo/horse culture of the northern plains tribes, and the highly industrial/agricultural based culture of the United States.Context & Story of the Battle, https://www.nps.gov/libi/learn/historyculture/battle-story.htm
I grew up in eastern Montana and knew of the battle as “Custer’s Last Stand” – a terrible defeat for the cavalry.
But for the warriors who were defending their homeland, it was a great victory.
“That night the Lakota men, women, and children lighted many fires and danced; their hearts were glad for the Great Spirit had given them a great victory.”– Etched on the Indian Memorial, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
“An Indian memorial to honor Native American participation in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876, and to change the name of Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, was authorized by Congress in 1991 and signed into law by former President George H. W. Bush on December 10, 1991.”From the sign describing the Indian Memorial
The design of the Indian Memorial is circular. It includes the etchings of the warriors (above) and words of “A Great Victory.” It also has a remarkable metal sculpture (below) and quotations from Native Americans.
Isn’t it interesting how we frame a story based on our particular experiences, culture, heritage, and more? What might we learn if we were to truly listen to a different narrative of the same event? Whose story do I/we need to hear today?