Washita Battlefield National Historic Site promotes support and healing in remembering Custer’s attack

The 150 anniversary of Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh U.S. Cavalry surprise attack on a Cheyenne Village led by Peace Chief Black Kettle was held on Nov. 27th. The Washita Battlefield National Historic Site held activities all week to help create a sense of place, share multiple perspectives, provoke cultural understanding, support healing and reconciliation that remain relevant today as well as Into the future. 

According to Kevin Moore, Chief of Interpretation, created a week  for the Sesquicentennial commemoration. It began on Nov. 24th with “A Healing Journey” that incorporated the park’s trail, walking along the trail for reflection. It continued on Monday, with Custer’s Cavalry Night Ride.

Visitors signed up to experience the battlefield at night that focuses o the perspective of the Seventh Cavalry soldiers. They began in the summer with a run through of the reenactment of the event. 

“It was great. Wendell and Carolyn Coots own and operate the wagons that were used in the program. The re-enactors were from this area and everything was done with volunteers. This park is the best kept secret to much of our country,” participant Judith Bollinger said.

Visitors began at the visitor center and traveled to the Battlefield site in horse drawn wagons At each stop, park rangers narrated elements of the history while living history demonstrators brought the history to life.

Tuesday, the activities focused on educating the next generation  about the history of the battle. The following day, there was a presentation about Bent’s Old Fort National Historic site, which was the peaceful contact between the Americans and the tribes. Thursday the program on Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was held because it is the 154 anniversary of that Massacre. 

Fireside Tipi Chats took place on Friday. Visitors were immersed in a tipi village. They rotated from tipi to tipi to engage in presentations and activities from Cheyenne as well as other Great Plains Tribal demonstrators and storytellers.

The 150 Commemoration ribbon cutting ceremony was held with new accessible trail and overlook. There were dignitaries present throughout the day and ended with an animated film developed by Southwestern Oklahoma State University. 

December 2nd the National Park unites continued to tell the story of the Plains Indian Wars with Washita, Little Bighorn and Big Hole National Battlefiles and the J...

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Pictured: Horse drawn carriage rides were provided by Wendell and Carolyn Coots of Cheyenne as they took visitors to the site of the Custer’s night run last Monday evening. The teepees are temporarily put up at the Washita Battlefield Site during the 150th year commemoration of the battle. Submitted photos. 

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