A Message For the Living (From my recently published young-adult book, “Battle of the Little Bighorn”)
In south-central Montana, just off Interstate 90 about 65 miles (105 km) from Billings, Montana, the United States National Park Service oversees Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. In 1876, the area was the scene of warfare and carnage. Today, it is hallowed ground, a peaceful place for people to learn and reflect.
The park preserves the battlefield, and also serves as a memorial to the people who fought and died there. It is the only battlefield in the country with white stone markers representing where soldiers fell in battle. There are also 17 red stone markers that show where Native Americans died. (Many more Indians died at the battle, but these 17 are confirmed by family oral histories.) George Armstrong Custer’s marker shows where he died on Last Stand Hill, along with many of his comrades.
Also on Last Stand Hill are two memorials. A large stone marker commemorates soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry who died on the battlefield. It was placed in 1881. In 2003, the “Peace Through Unity” Indian Memorial was dedicated to honor Native American men, women, and children who died on the sacred ground defending their way of life. The memorial was built to “encourage peace among all the races.”