Peji Sla Wakpa is the Lakota name for the Greasy Grass River which was the site of the Battle of the Greasy Grass in 1876, a.k.a. the Battle of Little Bighorn, a.k.a. Custer's Last Stand We stopped there on a chilly, grey morning back at the end of May
Custer isn't actually buried on Last Stand Hill in Montana. His remains were dug up a year later and re-interred at his alma mater West Point where fifteen years earlier he had graduated last in his class. Custer led 225 army soldiers to their deaths and lost the battle, but his mission to force the Lokata Sioux and Cheyenne off their lands and onto reservations to open up the Black Hills to gold mining settlers was successful in the end.
Native American warriors didn't receive a memorial at Little Bighorn until 2003 - 127 years after their greatest victory and only 9 years ago.
It is a melancholy place.
The path up Last Stand Hill.
Memorial markers placed where the bodies of Custer's troops were found.
This stretch of rolling Montana prairie is a grassland like thousands of others on the high plains, but one that's haunted by the violent legacy of Western expansion. The events that happened here mark an otherwise arbitrary landscape with a burden of conflicted meanings and a sense of mystery.
1876 isn't that long ago but seems unapproachably distant. Standing on the ridge above the meandering river you can almost see back to a world that's lost to us, but that made the world we live in.
The Indian Memorial of 2003.
The vultures were hungry and patiently waiting for something to die.
We were hungry too, but impatient, so we stopped at the trading post on the Crow Reservation just outside the battlefield and ate some delicious Indian tacos: