Northern Arapaho Tribe Commemorates Victory At Little Bighorn

Jun 25, 2019

Devin Oldman representing the Northern Arapaho Tribe at the site of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn.
Credit Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office

June 25 marks the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors defeated federal troops led by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer.

"[Custer] tried to attack a village of our people and they essentially defeated the U.S. government," Devin Oldman, director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historical Preservation Office, said. "One of many victories the government does not like to admit to."

Also known as the Battle of Greasy Grass or Custer's Last Stand, the battle is the most famous triumph by Native People in what are now known as the American Indian Wars.

Oldman and deputy director Crystal C'Bearing are among several Northern Arapaho citizens who traveled to an annual gathering at the battle site in Crow Agency, Montana.

For C'Bearing, the gathering is a time to share oral histories about what happened there. Her three times great grandmother Mary Little Thunder, who was 12 or 13 in 1876, hid in the banks of the Little Bighorn River for safety during the conflict.

"It's to reflect and appreciate what my ancestors have done for me to be here, for my kids to be here," C'Bearing said. "Their stamina, their will, their resilience. I'll always be grateful for that and always honor it."

The gathering brought Native people from tribes across the plains and Mountain West to Crow Agency, and included a horseback reenactment of the Battle of Little Bighorn.