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DAY 8 (Part 1): Nail in the Native American's Coffin: Custer's Last Stand

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    DAY 8 (Part 1): Nail in the Native American s Coffin: Custer s Last Stand The AEI editors, 09:32 AM in Vindu & Clyde BY CLYDE LERNER
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16, 2005
      DAY 8 (Part 1): Nail in the Native American's Coffin: Custer's Last Stand

      The AEI editors, 09:32 AM in Vindu & Clyde

      BY CLYDE LERNER
      http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/08/day_8_part_1_na.html
      Trip Odometer: 2417 miles. Driven Today: 478 miles.

      LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT, Montana -- It was with great reluctance that I visited this tourist trap. There were multiple gift shops and loads of people everywhere upon arriving at such a historic site.

      I know a bit of history about the Native American people, since my grandfather was active in the '70s assisting one of the Native American tribes, the Havasu , in the Grand Canyon survive by teaching them how to run a store and get funds from the federal government. I also took a class on Native American history and visited the Havasu people in the mid-'80s.

      A good summary of the battle is here . Bottom line, the wonderful U.S. gov't felt it was in their best interest to round up all the Native Americans in reservations, like they do with equally harmless cattle, so they knew were they all were. The government stole all their land and signed treaties giving them small bits of land instead, stripping them of their way of life, which was a nomadic one based on following the bison, not a stationary one, where one goes to the store and buys goods.

      [Custermonument_2] [Horsemonument] On June 25, 1876, Custer disobeyed orders as he attempted to round up large numbers of Native Americans. He split his troops into 3 groups as he strategized to take the Native Americans in 1 day (contrary to the three days that his Native American scout recommended). His strategy backfired and the Native Americans killed him and his troops. This was the beginning of the end, as the gov't was way pissed off about this and increased the pressure to round up all Native Americans into slave camps titled "reservations." (The reservations, unfortunately were for a lifetime and non-cancellable). By the end of the century, the Indians were "pacified."

      [Nativeamericanmonument_1] For more than a century, the battlefield has had a number of monuments to the fallen officers and soldiers and even one to the horses. Only very recently did they erect a monument to the Native Americans who died there (see picture at right).

      After the battlefield, Vindu and I drove through the town of Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and were saddened by the poverty and lack of people there. I'm sure 100 years ago, these areas were flourishing with Indian people and large amounts of bison. Today, all that remains are scattered houses, about 50% of them in disrepair, and some farmland. Quite a sad state of affairs for a once noble people.

      [Stlabreschool] On a bright note, we happened upon St. Labre High School , a Catholic school just outside of the reservation. We were immediately struck with the beauty of the building and structures. My interpretation is that the cross, shown crushing the church, is symbolic of the white man/church crushing the spirit of the Native Americans. In researching the school a bit, it appears (looks can be deceiving), that after 120 years in existence (129 years after Custer's Last Stand), the majority of the teachers/higher-ups in the staff are of non-Native American descent. If I had more time, I'd call the school to get more info.

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