Groundbreaking Ceremonies Held To Kick Off Indian Memorial Fundraising Efforts
The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Advisory Committee and the National Park Service held groundbreaking ceremonies to kick off the fundraising efforts towards constructing the Indian Memorial. The ceremonies were held on Veterans Day, November 11, 1999. Congress passed legislation in 1991 authorizing the construction of an Indian Memorial for the purpose of honoring all Native Americans who fought at Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876.
About 500 attended the ceremonies which began about 9:00 a.m. Mr. Caleb Shields, former tribal chairman and executive board member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Shields has been a longtime advocate for the Indian Memorial and Little Bighorn Battlefield. To call for help, Shields presented the eagle whistle traditionally used in battle by his people. He blew a high pitched whistle to each of the four directions "to call upon our feathered relatives to fly across America asking people to open their hearts."
Seven soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry, drove to the battlefield from Fort Hood, Texas. The troops stood at attention, dressed black combat boots, camouflage clothes and the traditional felt cavalry hats with gold braid trim. None of the cavalry members had been to the battlefield before and all volunteered for the Veterans Day duty.
Karen Wade, Intermountain Regional Director for the National Park Service, remarked that this "hallowed ground must speak for itself and remind us of our mission and our responsibility to future generations." She also said that "This memorial will forever stand to remind us of the price paid for unity of one nation of nations."
Did You Know?
More than half of the 7th Cavalry survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. About 350 soldiers under the command of Major Reno and Captain Benteen survived five miles south of where Custer and five companies were annihilated.