Re: Little Bighorn Remembered: Some More Info

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Posted by Rich on November 21, 1999 at 07:27:21:

In Reply to: Little Bighorn Remembered posted by Danalee Lavelle-Burroughs on November 15, 1999 at 10:14:45:

: Rich mentioned Herman Viola's book in an earlier message. I want to second his 'vote'. I purchased this book as soon as it hit the bookstand because it is one of the few treatise on Little Big Horn from the Indian perspective. To wit, the fall out from that momentous event was not just Indians against White but Indians against Indians. The magnificent Crow people of southeast Montana and Arikara became scouts for the US government before things got nasty. As in so many instances in history, they believed the promises made to them by the US government which were given in exchange for their excellent tracking and scouting skills. The Crow were supreme equestrians and remain so to this day. Anyway, the Crow and Arikara took alot of flack from their native brethren for aiding the Cavalry. This conflict is highlighted in the book with excellent profiles on the various scouts that aided Custer. I met a descendant of one scout, known as Curly, when I attended the Spokane Tribal Celebration over Labor Day. Excellent book, not stuffy and, as Rich points out, full of wonderful drawings by several of the scouts themselves. Enjoy!


Yes, Danalee, an EXCELLENT work we've got here! I have read so many books on the subject of The Great Sioux War of 1876/1877 and it is rare that one grabs me the way this one has. A refreshing perspective indeed. Random House contacted us this past week in regards to promoting this book, and I have no qualms at all about doing so. It is a fabulous addition to the Little Bighorn base of knowledge. BUY IT, if you can. Read in conjunction with a good overview book, you'll come away with a solid understanding of events of this last of the Great Indian Wars.

Here's what Random House has to say:

Times Books, October 1999
ISBN: 0-8129-3256-0

Lavishly illustrated with more than two hundred maps, photographs, reproductions, and drawings, this remarkable book also includes:

* An account of the battle, including startling descriptions of Custer's conduct, collected from the Crow scouts by the famed photographer Edward S. Curtis in 1908. Curtis never published this report--President Theodore Roosevelt advised him not to--and it remained a secret until his ninety-year-old son recently gave the material to the Smithsonian.

* New archaeological evidence from the battlefield that casts fresh light on the Seventh Cavalry's movements, along with discoveries from the site of Sitting Bull's village--including the complete skeleton of a cavalry horse with its rider's well-preserved saddlebags and personal items.

* A series of illustrations made soon after the battle by Red Horse, a remarkable tableau that is reproduced here in its entirety for the first time.

* Three letters written by Lieutenant William Van Wyck Reily just days before he died at Little Bighorn that provide key and potentially controversial insights into the conduct of the cavalry under Custer's command.

In short, this landmark book takes us much closer to knowing what really happened on that June day in 1876 when Custer died and a legend was born.


I can wholeheartedly agree with their assessment! I hate to sound like a pitch man, but this subject has fascinated me since I was a young boy ... Aren't you potential 2000 Gatherers LUCKY! The last day of the next Gathering falls on June 25 ... a Sunday. The Little Bighorn battle occurred on Sunday, June 25, 1876 ... DON'T get me started!

The book, "Little Bighorn Remembered" packs an emotional wallop. Here are just a few excerpts (in quotes; my commentary also accompanies):

If you remember, maybe a year or so ago, I told the tale, in brief, of a band of Northern Cheyenne attempting to return to their homeland after being sent south to an Indian Territory (Oklahoma) reservation following their surrender in the aftermath of Little Bighorn. This group of maybe 300 Indians, mostly women & children, avoided capture, in a seemingly magical journey, and split in 2 once arriving in the relative safety of the north. One group, under Dull Knife, surrendered to the Army at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, under the impression that they'd be allowed to go home. Instead, they were to be returned from whence they came ... Indian Territory. They refused. The Army locked them up in barracks, gradually refusing them food, water & heat (it was the dead of Winter). One frigid night, the Indians pieced together weapons they had dismantled and hid, or wore as jewelery, from under the floorboards, and made a desperate attempt at freedom. Most were killed or severely wounded. Iron Tooth, Cheyenne woman who lost her husband in a post-Little Bighorn retribution raid, was a survivor:

"When the group separated, a son & daughter went with Little Wolf. She and the remaining children, including a 22-year old son named Gathering His Medicine, followed Dull Knife. During the breakout, she kept one daughter with her, and they were found hiding in a cave the following day. Her son, who had a pistol, carried the youngest girl on his back into another cave. When soldiers who tracked him through the snow reached the cave, Gathering His Medicine told his sister to stay hidden while he challenged them. 'Lots of times,' Iron Teeth admitted, 'as I sit here alone on the floor with my blanket wrapped about me, I lean forward and close my eyes and think of him ... fighting the soldiers, knowing that he would be killed, but doing this so his little sister might get away in safety. Don't you think he was a brave young man?'"

This text, sits next to a black & white photo of the 92 year old Iron Teeth, sitting, on the floor, blanket wrapped about her, head bowed ... Powerful stuff!

There is heartbreak (above) and cold violence ... from Eagle Bear, a Lakota:

" ... during the fighting he came across a wounded Arikara [scouts for Custer] lying on the battlefield. 'Brother,' the wounded scout said, 'do not kill me. I have a wife & children at home waiting for me.'

'If that's true,' Eagle Bear answered, 'then why are you here trying to harm our wives & children?' He then put his gun to the Arikara's head and killed him.'"

From a letter (newly discovered), dated June 21, 1876, from Lt. Wm. Reily, to his mother:

"'Our horses are almost played out, [and] we lost two in route,' he reported. The country was desolate and barren, 'with cactus & sagebrush the only things for one's eyes to rest upon, and [they] make a country to march through so bad that it can only be imagined and not described ... We have pretty hard times ... but I assure you that I am satisfied, and am not complaining ... if I live through this campaign ... Pray for your devoted son, Willie.'"

Four days later:

"Willie's body, 'shot full of arrows' - was found lying next to that of Custer within the circle of dead troopers and horses that gave rise to the notion of a 'last stand.'"

The book is fascinating.

If you are unfamiliar with the events, I've written a fair overview to help you get oriented ... See link below from our "Against All Odds" Web Site.

Regarding that often neglected Site, my two eldest sons, Jesse & Adam, will be writing a synopsis of Pickett's Charge for the Gettysburg section soon. They are talented writers and extremely knowledgeable on the subject! My plans are to round out the Site with text for the Alamo for its anniversary in March, and then Lexington for its anniversary in April.

If time will only allow!

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