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Washita Battlefield National Historic Site and Cheyenne High School will host Special Activities in December
On December 4, 5, and 6, 2008, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site will sponsor activities to observe the 140th anniversary of the Washita attack and to promote National History Day. All activities will be free and open to the public, except for the Friday, December 5, event at the Cheyenne High School auditorium, which will be restricted to students and teachers. Nationally prominent speakers at these programs will include Dr. Henrietta Mann, Louis Kraft, and Mark Gardner.
Thursday, December 4
Working in cooperation with the Cheyenne School District, the first public program will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 4, with a free performance of Ned Wynkoop: Long Road to Washita starring author/actor Louis Kraft. Tom Eubanks will direct the production, which will be staged in the Cheyenne High School auditorium.
Louis Kraft is a western historian who has published many articles and books, including Custer and the Cheyenne: George Armstrong Custer’s Winter Campaign on the Southern Plains. Kraft is particularly intrigued by the story of Edward “Ned” Wynkoop. A military officer and Indian agent who befriended Chief Black Kettle, Ned Wynkoop sympathized with the plight of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Wynkoop’s resignation as their agent after the Washita attack illustrated his frustration with the federal government’s Indian policy. Mr. Kraft lives in North Hollywood, California.
Friday, December 5
To promote National History Day on Friday, December 5, area students (grades 6 through 12) will listen to a fascinating presentation by Dr. Henrietta Mann and then view Ned Wynkoop: Long Road to Washita. This event at the Cheyenne High School auditorium is only open to teachers and students who RSVP ahead of time with Kelah Gibson at 580-497-3371 Ext. 212.
Dr. Henrietta Mann, the great-granddaughter of Washita survivor White Buffalo Woman, is the first President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Her presentation will be Remembering the Past with Hope for the Future: Reflecting on What it Means to be Cheyenne Today. A native of Hammon, Oklahoma, Dr. Mann 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.
The event on December 5 will also promote the National History Day competition for students in grades 6 through 12. These students are eligible for regional competitions next April (younger students compete in a junior division). To participate, students can create table-top exhibits, dramatic performances, documentary films, research papers, or websites. “The theme for National History Day in 2008-2009 is the ‘Individual in History,’” said National Park Service spokesman Dave Schafer. “The fascinating stories of Dr. Henrietta Mann and Edward Wynkoop will be inspiring examples of the difference one person can make in history.”
Saturday, December 6
On Saturday, December 6, History Day activities at the new National Park Service visitor center will feature authors, educators, historians, living history presenters, and children’s arts and crafts activities. Park visitors can view an authentically furnished 1860s era tipi, meet men dressed as Cheyenne and Kiowa warriors and as a 7th U.S. Cavalry soldier, and learn about the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples’ many uses of the buffalo.
Children’s activities will include learning a traditional Cheyenne ball game and creating their own coup sticks while learning how warriors “counted coup” on their enemies. Pioneer style children’s activities, such as drawing silhouettes, will also be available. The free activities begin at 9:30 am and run through 3:30 pm. 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.
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. Speakers at the evening event include Dr. Henrietta Mann and Mark Gardner, a historian from Cascade, Colorado. Gardner has authored many books about western history, including a biography of George A. Custer and a booklet about Washita published by Western National Parks Association. A reception, which will include refreshments and a time for book-signing, will follow the program.