Spending Fourth of July with Casey and Hillary in Billings, MT

The Pilgrimage: Day 18

I spent the morning exploring the Little Bighorn Battlefield. (For the record, if you have an America the Beautiful Pass (National Parks Annual Pass), it also grants you entry to National Battlefields, Monuments, and Recreation Areas.)

After exploring the Little Bighorn Battlefield I made my way to Billings where I got to reunite with Casey (the man on the right) whom I went to High School with. We lit fireworks the night before Fourth of July with his adorable daughter and his girlfriend Hilary. 

More details about my opinions and feelings having to do with the Little Bighorn Battlefield under the cut. 

It’s very difficult to go to the Little Bighorn Battlefield and not cry, or get really really pissed off. I have a difficult time visiting places like this, because of the amount of emotions I feel as a result, and then not being able to do anything about it. The injustice of such events leave me feeling wounded, useless, and only reminds me of the injustices still dealt to our remaining Native Americans. While we squabble about idiotic politics, large protests to protect Native lands are looked over and silenced by the media

At the Visitor’s Center at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, there are rangers who tell the story of the Battle. At the end of their rather dramatic representation, they add that there is only white markers for those white soldiers who lost their lives on the battlefield, and were left their by the US Government for years until public outcry made them do something about it. The government then bulldozed the bodies into large burial pits, showing just how much they valued the sacrifice of life made for their ‘safety.’ Only Custer’s body was removed from the Battlefield by the US Government after the battle. Allowing the people in the East to glorify him and make him into a martyr for their grand Manifest Destiny. 

The center’s defense for their being no markers for the Natives killed there, is that the tribe removed the bodies immediately following the battle. They finish their little speech by saying that they are ‘trying’ to work with the tribes to make markers for those killed in the battle and add them to the battlefield. 

There is also a Museum dedicated to Custer in Garryowen, a few miles down the road. I visited it once before when I was 9 and remember it essentially being a large shrine and glorification of a man, who deserved neither. Today, they’ve attempted to make more room in their shrine to include those Natives, who were the bravest men of their generation. They have prints of rare photos taken of all of the 7th Calvary, and many of the Natives who fought before and after the Battle of Little Bighorn. They also have more plaques and artifacts describing the life of Natives during this period of genocide.

I’ll end this series of thoughts with my wish that someday in the future, history will be more evenly represented. That conquerors and blood thirsty tyrants will no longer be glorified as heroes and commended for slaughtering thousands of people. The change is coming, but slowly. 

Pictograph Cave State Park, Billings, MT

The Pilgrimage: Day 19

I spent the day being escorted by the awesome Casey and Hillary, around Billings. 
We went to the Pictograph Caves, The Rim Rocks (which were unfortunately closed off because of the Fourth of July), Pompey’s Pillar (which we got kicked off of because there was a storm coming, and I got lots of oh so lovely mosquito bites, including one that bit me in the middle of the forehead. 

Huge thank you to Hilary and Casey for letting me eat their food and sleep on their couch. 

Scheels department store, Billings, MT

Bonus: A photo of me visiting with Abe Lincoln in bronze, and a photo of the robotic Lincoln in a place called Scheels, which was essentially a tiny amusement park crossed with a huge big box store. It was quite amusing.