Jun 29, 2016 - Camp Encourages Kids to “Become a Solider in Custer’s 7th Calvary” by Matt Remle
Fort Abraham State Park in North Dakota offers a Saturday morning kids’ program called “Becoming a Soldier of Fort Abraham Lincoln”. The free program states that “children will learn about soldier life at Fort Abraham Lincoln and what it takes to be part of Custer’s 7th Cavalry.”
Fort Abraham is located just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, home of Tatanka Iyotake (Sitting Bull).
The program, which runs from late May to early September, says it will “introduce kids to military life on the Dakota frontier as a solider living at Fort Abraham Lincoln in 1875.” Kids will also take the ‘official oath of enlistment’ into the U.S. 7th Cavalry.
While some may see the camp as just another harmless summer camp where parents can let their children run wild for an afternoon, let’s consider the campaigns of mass genocide Custer and the 7th Calvary committed against tribes in the Great Plains.
On November 27th, 1868, Custer led an early morning attack on a peaceful band of Cheyenne living with Chief Black Kettle near the Washita River. Custer, who had previously been convicted of desertion and mistreatment of soldiers, had recently been reinstated by Gen Sheridan to lead a campaign against the Cheyenne. Sheridan was frustrated by the inability of previous officers’ efforts to engage successfully against tribes and felt Custer would help lead successful campaigns.
Prior to the attack, Custer refused to confirm the band of Cheyenne over looking that this band under Chief Black Kettle were a peaceful band and flew a white flag of truce in the middle of the camp. Just four years earlier, Black Kettle had survived another surprise attack at the Sand Creek massacre.
Custer’s surprise attack happened at dawn. He ordered his men to destroy “everything of value to the Indians,” and in a few hours over 100 Cheyenne’s had been killed including Black Kettle, his wife, and over 800 horses. Custer also took over 50 women and children into captivity.
While originally labelled as a “Battle” the slaughter at Washita River was later called a “massacre of innocent Indians” by the Indian Bureau.
Custer would later lead a gold finding expedition into the Black Hills in direct violation of the 1868 Ft. Laramie treaty. Later, Custer who once declared “There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the 7th Calvary” would meet his fate at the Battle of the Greasy Grass (the Battle of the Little Big Horn) by an alliance of Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors. The battle would go down as the worst military defeat in US military history.
In 1890, a blood thirsty and revenge driven 7th Calvary rounded up a peaceful band of Lakota, primarily Ghost Dancers, under Chief Big Foot and slaughtered over 300 women, men, and children known as the Wounded Knee massacre.
It is incomprehensible that the Fort Abraham State Park would find it appropriate to encourage children to find out what it takes to be a part of a legacy soaked in genocide.
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)
Matt Remle is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7