By June 1876, the several bands of the Lakota Nation along with their ally the Northern Cheyenne Nation, had reached the traditional summer hunting areas in the Yellowstone, Powder, Tongue, and Big Horn River country. Three columns of the United States Army were moving into the same region.
By July, over 300 soldiers from all sides lay dead in the Montana and Wyoming countryside. The Lakota and Cheyenne bands dispersed, as was their custom when pressed by the Army soldiers and the Crow and Arickaree scouts had returned to their homes having guided the Army columns to their destinies. The dust that settled over these battlefields covered and clouded the history as much as it covered the drying sage and bleaching bones.–Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association
In 1881 a memorial was erected at the mass gravesite where the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place to honor the members of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry and General George A. Custer who perished there June 25, 1876. June 25, 2003, the people of our nation again gathered at this site to officially dedicate a different memorial, this one honoring the Indians who fought then, on either side, to preserve their land and culture. The dedication theme is “Peace Through Unity.” It is the 127th anniversary of the battle.
The Bighorn Battlefield National Monument part of the National Park Service, is the site of the two memorials. It is located just south of Crow Agency and was formerly known as the Custer Battlefield National Monument. In 1991, Congress renamed the site and with the same law directed that an Indian Memorial be designed and constructed to formally acknowledge the Indian perspective and to recognize and honor Native Americans who struggled and died to preserve and defend their homeland and traditional way of life.