About Little Bighorn Battlefield
Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana played an important role in the Great Sioux War, a conflict between the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Native Americans and the US government and which was part of an era known as the American-Indian Wars.
Little Bighorn Battlefield history
The Lakota-Northern Cheyenne people had previously been ordered to sign the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, a document which stated that they had to cease their nomadic traditions and be confined to an area known as the Great Sioux Reservation. A significant minority, including Lakota leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, rejected the reservation system and refused to sign this treaty. They continued to live freely in an area called the Black Hills, in contravention of its terms.
President Ulysses S. Grant then declared that anybody living in the Black Hills was to be considered hostile to the government unless they returned to the reservation and troops were ordered to engage the dissenters. Lieutenant Colonel Custer and his 7th Cavalry were part of one of the three forces sent to confront the Native Americans.
On 25 June 1876, Custer and around a quarter of his men – for he had divided them into four units – converged on Little Bighorn. The entire unit, including Custer, were killed in the clash, leading to the battle being known as ’Custer’s Last Stand’.
In fact, the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek, was a victory for the Native Americans and yet in the period that followed, they lost much of their traditional way of life.
Within a year, the Black Hills were taken by the US government without compensation.
Little Bighorn Battlefield today
Little Bighorn Battlefield is now a National Park, dedicated to commemorating the events of the battle and the conflict of which it formed part. It includes an Indian Memorial, the Custer National Cemetery and offers guided talks exploring the conflict.
Getting to Little Bighorn Battlefield
The easiest way to reach the site is to drive. Take Interstate I-90 and get off at Crow Agency Exit 510 at Jct 212. To reach Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, take Battlefield Tour Road 756.
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