on horseback mark 133rd anniversary of fight with 7th Cavalry
BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT - From a grassy crease in
a shallow draw, one rider in feathered headdress released a rageful
wail quite possibly like the one Lt. Col. George Custer heard before
dying here 133 years ago.
rider raced into view on a hillside less than 200 yards from Custer's
last stand. Then appeared another, and another, emerging from the
same grassy crease where minutes earlier there seemed to be only
nettles and prickly pear. They raced like angry ants from a disturbed
colony, several dozen of them on horseback. The Morning Star Riders
- old men, young girls, teenage boys - wailed fiercely.
the mob of several dozen riders crested the hill, Terrence Limberhand
burst to the fore. He was riding bareback, squeezing his horse so
tightly with his thighs that his legs were cramping.
raced in the direction of the battlefield monument, then pulled
up quickly at a barbed wire fence. He was thinking of Limber Bones,
his great-great-grandfather, a suicide rider who vowed to fight
to the death the day Custer and more than 200 7th Cavalry men were
"That's exactly how he rode," said Limberhand, who wore
a customary mask of ghostly white. "It feels good. It makes
me proud of our people."
25 is a special day for the Cheyenne and Sioux, who come to the
Little Bighorn Battlefield in honor of their ancestors who fought
in the 1876 rout known to Indians as the Battle of The Greasy Grass.
Here, the red granite commemorating the fallen warriors state that
they died "defending the Lakota way of life."
gave me goose bumps to ride in today," said Bently Spang, a Northern
Cheyenne Indian and contemporary artist and author.
were 77 riders Wednesday. They met at Mile Marker 13 on Highway
212 and proceeded to the monument. Elders in wagons joined the procession
after a smudge ceremony to the riders.
Morning Star Riders is our way to honor the Northern Cheyenne and
Sioux who fought here 133 years ago today," said Leroy Spang,
Northern Cheyenne president. "When we rode today, we thought
about them. They live in our hearts again today."
told a crowd of roughly 80 people gathered after the horse ride
that the day before the battle the Sioux and Cheyenne were protecting
the living and assuring their way of life survived. That day, a
massive encampment of Indians stretched for more than a mile along
the Little Bighorn River. The Cheyenne had been in a battle with
the Cavalry just eight days earlier but didn't expect another fight.
an estimated 800 to 2,000 warriors, it didn't take them long obliterate
five companies of the 7th Cavalry.
Cheyenne honored former battlefield superintendent Barbara Sutteer,
the first Indian woman to serve as a National Park Service superintendent.
Sutteer, worked with the Cheyenne and Sioux to change the name of
the park from Custer Battlefield to its current name. She also worked
with them in getting other key battle sites recognized.