Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield collage of memorial, cemetery, and Indian on horse

This area memorializes the United States Army's 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25-26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn has come to symbolize the clash of two vastly dissimilar cultures: the buffalo/horse culture of the northern plains tribes, and the highly industrial/agricultural based culture of the U.S., which was advancing primarily from the east coast. This battle was not an isolated soldier versus warrior confrontation, but part of a much larger strategic campaign designed to force the faction of Lakota and Cheyenne who had refused to give up their nomadic way of life and live on the Great Sioux Reservation.

Although Sioux and Cheyenne warriors from Sitting Bull’s village annihilated Custer’s troops, the battle was only a momentary victory for the Sioux and Cheyenne. General Phil Sheridan now had the leverage to put more troops in the field. Lakota Sioux hunting grounds were invaded by powerful Army expeditionary forces, who were determined to pacify the Northern Plains and to confine the Lakota and Cheyenne to reservations. Most of the declared "hostiles" had surrendered within one year of the fight, and the Black Hills were taken by the United States without compensation.