• Along the Washita - 1868 by Gene V. Dougherty

    Washita Battlefield

    National Historic Site Oklahoma

11-25-08 Washita Battlefield National Historic Site to Host 140th Anniversary Activities on December 6

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Date: November 25, 2008

Battlefield National Historic Site to Host 140th Anniversary Activities on Saturday, December 6

On Saturday, December 6, 2008, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site will observe the 140th anniversary of the Washita attack. The day’s events will feature living history presentations, children’s arts and crafts activities, and Cheyenne and Arapaho artists, singers, and authors. Nationally prominent speakers will include the authors Dr. Henrietta Mann, Louis Kraft, and Mark Gardner. All activities will take place at the new National Park Service visitor center, which is on Highway 47A one mile west of Cheyenne, Oklahoma. All events will be free and open to the public.

Presentations to Include Tipis, Warriors, Cavalry Soldier, and Traditional Uses of the Buffalo

From 9:30 am to 3:30 pm there will be several ongoing activities. Ivan Hankla and Ken Weidner will set up tipis near the visitor center that will depict the traditional lifestyle of the Southern Cheyenne during the 1860s era. Their fully furnished lodges will help visitors understand the daily activities and nomadic way of life of the Southern Cheyenne when their lifestyle depended on hunting the migrating herds of buffalo (also known as bison).

James Coverdale will portray an 1860s era Kiowa warrior while showing visitors examples of ledger art, the highly symbolic art of Plains Indian people. Among his displays will be a replica of a 19th century Kiowa Calendar painted with pictographs on a deer hide. Woodson Whitebird will portray an 1860s era Cheyenne warrior and set up displays explaining life and culture on the southern plains during that time. One of the park employees will portray a 7th U.S. Cavalry soldier in 1868 field gear.

Members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma will describe the importance of the buffalo to the tribes. Francine Williams, who works for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Department of Education, will set up a display depicting the traditional uses of the buffalo. Michelle Bigfoot, who is the Farm and Buffalo Manager for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, will set up a display and talk about the tribes’ current buffalo herd. Michelle is on the Board of Directors for the Intertribal Bison Cooperative and will have brochures describing the importance of the buffalo to many American Indians.

Children’s Activities: Making Coup Sticks, Ledger Art, and Silhouettes, and Participating in a History Hunt

During one of the children’s activities, students will create coup sticks and learn about the warrior tradition of “counting coup” on their enemies. The coup stick activity will take place every 45 minutes. To participate in the coup stick activity, call 580-497-2742 and reserve a time slot or inquire at the front desk upon arrival in the visitor center on December 6. Creating silhouettes of family and friends was a popular pastime in the 1800s and students can create paper profiles of one another. Students can also draw their own ledger art. For the History Hunt, students will go to different locations and complete an activity sheet to win a prize. If you plan to bring a scout group or other youth group, please notify the park so that the staff can be prepared with enough arts and crafts materials.

Schedule of Events

10:00 am  – Edward Wynkoop’s Indian Years – Louis Kraft

11:00 am  – Unveiling of Artwork – Gordon Yellowman

11:15 am  – Southern Cheyenne Tipi Life – Ken Weidner

12:  Noon – Guided Tour of Washita Battlefield National Historic Site – Meet park ranger at overlook 

   1:00 pm – Red Moon Singers – from Hammon, Oklahoma

   2:00 pm – Cheyenne and Arapaho Book Project – George Levi, Frank Mosqueda, Eagle Runningwater, and Jennie Whiteman

   3:00 pm – Guided Tour of Washita Battlefield National Historic Site – Meet park ranger at overlook

   6:00 pm – Evening Program and Reception featuring Dr. Henrietta Mann and Mark Gardner 

At 11:00 am, Chief Gordon Yellowman, who is the Director of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma Culture and Heritage Program, will unveil artwork that he has created for the new visitor center.

At 1:00 pm, the “Red Moon Singers” from Hammon, Oklahoma, will sing traditional songs around a drum. They will also perform during the evening program. 

A few months ago, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma published four books about the tribes’ government, history, and culture. The books The Tsististas Journey, The Tsististas: People of the Plains, The Hinono’ei Way of Life, and The Prairie Thunder People will provide an important way for students to learn about the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Four speakers will describe their work on this significant project at 2:00 pm. Frank Mosqueda, a Southern Arapaho who is one of four authors on the project, will talk about his role in creating the books. George Levi, a Southern Cheyenne who is one of four artists on the project, will also speak. Other speakers involved in creating the books include Eagle Runningwater and Jennie Whiteman.

Evening Program and Reception – 6:00 pm

At 6:00 pm the park will commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Washita attack with a special program and reception in the visitor center’s main gallery. Featured speakers at this event are Dr. Henrietta Mann and Mark Gardner.

Dr. Henrietta Mann is the first President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and the great-granddaughter of Washita survivor White Buffalo Woman. Dr. Mann’s presentation will be Remembering the Past with Hope for the Future: Washita, Education, and the Cheyenne Way of Life. A native of Hammon, Oklahoma, she is a Cheyenne tribal leader and a nationally renowned educator who taught for many years at the University of Montana. “I came in on the ground floor of Native American studies,” Mann said in a 2004 interview with the Billings Gazette. “I guess I was at the right place at the right time to begin to look at the need for American Indian students who were pursuing higher education to be able to study their own history, their own culture, their own philosophy.” Symbolic of her dynamic teaching style, in 1991 Rolling Stone magazine selected her as one of the top 10 college professors in the country.

Mark Gardner, a historian from Cascade, Colorado, has authored many books about western history, including a biography of George A. Custer and booklets about Washita, Bent’s Old Fort, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn published by Western National Parks Association. Mr. Gardner’s presentation will be “I Live in Hopes”: The Relevance of Washita in 21st Century America. During his program, he will examine the importance and symbolism of establishing National Park Service sites at Washita, Sand Creek, and changing the name of Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. A reception sponsored by the Cheyenne and Roger Mills County Chamber of Commerce will follow the program. The reception will include refreshments and a time for book-signing.

The park visitor center will be open on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, the anniversary of the Washita attack. For more information, call 580-497-2742 or check www.nps.gov/waba.

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