This post has been moved to OpenChutes.com. All future postings of Powwows, Indian Relay Races, Rodeos and Rendezvous will be posted there from now on exclusively. So if you’re looking for new images and posts for all those events attended this year, plus all the old posts posted on BigShotsNow.com check out OpenChutes.com. See you there!
Day 7 Little Bighorn Battlefield
There’s a lot to tell you today. Yesterday, as you know, especially if you read yesterday’s post, was spent photographing wild horses outside of Cody, Wyoming. Because the Bokeh Maru is great at navigating down the highway but not so great running down two-lane roads and fording creeks I left her in the able hands of Big Lemon Kowalski and ExcuseMeMs while I and my trusty guide set out on our expedition.
Knowing how capable Big Lemon is in handling the crew I never gave a seconds thought that there might be a problem brewing, let alone a full-scale mutiny. Apparently making them haul the Bokeh Maru up those hills the 50 odd miles into Cody was the last straw. They planned on hijacking the Bokeh Maru and driving her under the cover of darkness to the closest junkyard and having her shredded. Just for spite and because they are mean. Knowing I’d give the order to fire they cleverly waited until I was far enough away that the cell phones wouldn’t work and then put their nefarious plan to work.
They locked ExcuseMeMs in her cabin and jumped Big Lemon when his back was turned and took over the Bokeh Maru. Tying him tightly with barbed-wire, they put duck tape over his tooth to keep him from chewing through his bonds and escaping. Little did they know that no amount of duck tape was going to keep Big Lemon from chewing his way through the barb-wire but also the sofa bed they had hidden him under. To make a long story short, he got loose, dispatched the ones that couldn’t run fast enough, and freed ExcuseMeMs before those murderous scum had a chance to treat her badly.
The bad news though, was now we were basically crewless, not in the Japanese sense that we didn’t have a clue but that we were really crewless. Yes they’re either dead or gone, the scurvy bastards, except for our timekeeper, and we will probably have to assume all the duties of running the Bokeh Maru ourselves. This could drastically change the nature of the trip if we have to work. We decided to make the journey up to the Battlefield of the Little Bighorn National Monument, a short distance up into Montana, to see if it was possible to continue our trip with no one to man the hawsers if we needed to haul the Bokeh Maru up the hills to conserve fuel again. We would have to do it simply by relying on the innate power of igniting gasoline in our internal combustion engine to get us there.
The solution was simple but daunting to implement. It meant starting the engine and traveling on gasoline again. This sounds like an easy solution but remember gasoline in the Northern tier of the United States costs money. Sometimes a lot of money and that was something we needed to use on other more important things, such as tips for the hard-working ladies at Randy Jack’s Gentlemen’s Emporium, and bribing police officials who were threatening us with citations for going too slow in the fast lane, and for buying expensive bumper stickers to put on the outside of the Bokeh Maru saying “I Heart My Dog’s Head.” That was a particular favorite of Big Lemon and he wanted it placed right above the rear license plate. I didn’t think much about that until ExcuseMeMs told me that he really liked dog’s head. I mean really liked it, it being a delicacy in the better restaurants around the South China sea.
And there’s something else weird too. ExcuseMeMs has seemed to have undergone a change in attitude since the mutiny. She is actually nice to us now, but more specifically, nice to Big Lemon. Something happened, I don’t know what it is, but I know it did. She kind of hangs around him now, bumping into him when there is no reason to, admiring his tattoos, making wide teeth at his dumb but stupid jokes. She has even told us her real name. It’s Candace Flavours. Of course everyone calls her Candy. I was GobSmacked. A few days ago you couldn’t get her to answer a simple question and now she’s like the hostess at the Junior League Christmas party. Big Lemon has changed his shirt and even combed his face. Something’s up I just know it.
We got to the battlefield late in the afternoon and went in to take a quick look around. We knew immediately that this was going to take another day to see properly so I took a shot of the area where Custer and his men fell and we made plans to return in the morning for an in-depth study of the place.
One of the striking features we noticed immediately was how small the major battle sites were but how big the battlefield was. This area where Custer and his unfortunate men made their final stand is an area enclosed by a wrought iron fence approximately 200+ feet long by 150+ feet wide, an area that is less than 3/4’s of an acre in size. That’s smaller than alot of your yards. If you enlarge this image the headstone with the black herald on it is Custer’s. This view looks down towards the Little Bighorn river towards the top of the image.
Dozens and Dozens of books have been written about Custer, his battles, this battle, and the people in his life. So we’re not going to reinvent that wheel. For those of you not up on your history, he lost. So when everything is said and done and you’ve read all the books and seen all the movies, the entire battle can be summed up pretty easily. Indians 1, Army 0.
Over the years the descriptions of the event have been pretty one-sided. Even though Custer lost the battle, got his dumb ass killed along with lots of other guys, he is still thought of as some kind of misguided hero who just had a bad day. Not much has been said about the Indians who defeated him. Lately though there have been efforts to change that. They (Those people who do this kind of thing) have begun to place headstones for the Indians killed during the fight. Since there wasn’t much effort expended at the time in determining where the Indians fell that fateful day they have been placing the headstones where they were pretty sure the Indians were killed. This seems to put things in perspective a little better and made the visualization of the what must have happened much clearer. They (those same people that do this stuff) intend to place the rest of the headstones as they are able.
I mentioned earlier that the bigness, smallness thing, was startling. There are these little pockets of headstones scattered about with the headstones clustered fairly close together but then you realize that these little clusters of headstones stretch out over a distance of nearly 10 miles. When you stand on the knoll where Reno was killed you can look across and see the place where Custer and his men fell. It seems like it is less than a quarter of a mile away which is only 400 some yards. A little longer than a football field.
Much of the battlefield is on private land, property of the residents of the Crow Agency. They allow you to travel the road and view the various skirmish sites that took place during the battle. You begin to get a real sense of what happened. The sights, the sounds, the wind blowing through the tall grass. You can see bands of warriors attempting to creep up on the soldiers, see mounted warriors riding down the coulees to take them on in a mounted charge. The sound of rifles being fired, the screams, the battle cries of the warriors and the whinnying of their horses. It comes alive. Standing on the various sites where historical events happened makes them come alive in a way no book or movie can ever do.
As we stood there with our imaginations running wild I heard a call, then the rapid sound of hooves striking the ground. A beautiful pinto mare and her foal came running up, head raised high, the foal mimicking her mother perfectly. It was as if our imagination had produced this phenomenon to show us what the past must have looked liked. It was a surreal moment.
Then it was time to return to the Bokeh Maru and continue our journey, our crew down to four now. Candy, I am still having trouble calling her that after days of ExcuseMeMs, Big Lemon, myself, and our timekeeper. Tomorrow we head further north to see what the day brings us.