The Indian Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of the Arikara, Apsaalooke (Crow), Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Oyate (Lakota Sioux) tribes in the Battle of the Little Bighorn as they fought to protect their diverse values and traditional way of life. The theme of the memorial, "Peace Through Unity", carries the commemoration further by acknowledging the need for cooperation both among Indian tribes and between tribal governments and the federal government. The relevancy and significance is further highlighted when one considers it is the only memorial to the Native American experience mandated by Congress and constructed with federal funds.
In 1879, the Little Bighorn Battlefield was designated a national cemetery
administered by the War Department. In 1881, a memorial
was erected on Last Stand Hill, over the mass grave of the Seventh Cavalry soldiers, U.S. Indian Scouts, and other personnel killed in battle. In 1940, jurisdiction of the battlefield was transferred to the National Park Service. These early interpretations were largely mono-cultural, honoring only the U.S. Army's perspective, with headstones marking where each fell.
command, the fallen Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were removed by their families, and "buried" in the Native American tradition, in tipis or tree-scaffolds nearby in the Little Bighorn Valley. The story of the battle from the Native American perspective was largely told through the oral tradition.