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The Battle of the Little Bighorn

In the late 1800’s the US was at war. They were at war with the indigenous people who were here long before Europeans settled in America. For whatever reason, their thought was to wipe out these natives, and settle the area the way that they wanted it to be settled. Fortunately, the native population proved to be much better at battle than realized, and their culture has been preserved over the years.

One of the most famous battles that took place in this war against natives was fought at a place now known as The Little Bighorn Battlefield. But it didn’t always have this honoring name.

In 1876, General George Custer grouped his men at the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Tongue Rivers in Eastern Montana. It was here that they set up camp and prepared for the battle that they believed would end the war against the Indians. Little did they know that the war would end, but not the way that they would have hoped.

That little camp along the Yellowstone River turned out to be a much bigger deal than anyone could have ever imagined. It grew from being a soldier encampment, containing everything that goes along with soldiers in the late 1800’s including prostitutes, gun fights, saloons, and drunken brawls, into the quintessential western town of Miles City. Thanks in part to its strategic location where two major waterways meet, and the fact that the railroad was built running right through town, Miles City has withstood the test of time and become an old west meets new west area that is a popular destination.

But let’s get back to the battle. As Custer and his men grouped at Miles City, the Indians that they would soon fight were also preparing for battle. Since the native population knew the area, understood battle techniques, and were skilled fighters, Custer and his men didn’t stand a chance. When they finally met for that epic battle, in a place known as Last Stand Hill, Custer and his men were annihilated in “as long as it takes a hungry man to eat a meal.” Most accounts say the battle lasted less than half an hour, and George Custer would never lead another man.

For many years after the battle, the area was known as Custer’s Last Stand. However, within the last few decades some controversy arose surrounding that name. Why honor the man who led a battle trying to wipe out the Indian population instead of honoring the tribe(s) that fought valiantly? The name of the area was changed to the Little Bighorn Battlefield and it remains a popular destination among tourist buffs even today.

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