It Is a Good Day to Die: Indian Eyewitnesses Tell the Story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

It Is a Good Day to Die: Indian Eyewitnesses Tell the Story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

It Is a Good Day to Die: Indian Eyewitnesses Tell the Story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

It Is a Good Day to Die: Indian Eyewitnesses Tell the Story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Synopsis

"I am an old man, and soon my spirit must leave this earth to join the spirit of my fathers. Therefore, I shall speak only the truth in telling what I know of the fight on the Little Bighorn River where General Custer was killed. Curly, who was with us, will tell you that I do not lie." So spoke White Man Runs Him, a Crow Indian who with five other Crow warriors had served as a scout for Custer's Seventh Cavalry on June 25, 1876, the day of the battle known to generations of white Americans as "Custer's Last Stand." They survived the battle, but Custer and more than 250 troopers did not. Thus their accounts and those of the Lakotas and Cheyennes who triumphed at Little Bighorn (or Greasy Grass, as it was known to the Lakotas) offer the only firsthand picture of what happened that fateful day. These stories-from leaders as renowned as Black Elk and Sitting Bull, warriors such as Wooden Leg, a Cheyenne woman, and Arikara and Crow scouts-at last bring one of the most unforgettable showdowns in American history to vivid, complex, multifaceted life.

Excerpt

I am an old man, and soon my spirit must leave this earth to join the spirits of my fathers. Therefore, I shall speak only the truth in telling what I know of the fight on the Little Horn River where General Custer was killed. Curly, who was with us, will tell you that 1 do not lie.

This is how White Man Runs Him, a member of the Crow Indian tribe, replied to questions about his part in the famous battle known to generations of white Americans as “Custer's Last Stand.” He had been a young warrior, only about eighteen years old, when he agreed to help the U.S. Army find and fight the Lakota and Cheyennes, who were bitter enemies of his Crow people. With White Man Runs Him were five other Crow warriors serving as scouts for Custer's Seventh Cavalry. Curly was one of them. They survived the battle, but Custer and more than 250 troopers did not. Fought on June 25, 1876, the Battle of the Little Bighorn River—or the “Greasy Grass,” as it was known to the Lakota Indians—was a dramatic victory for the Lakota and Cheyenne peoples over the U.S. government.

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