L I TTLE B I GHORN BOOKS
The ones you SHOULD read and some of the ones you probably SHOULDN'T
One of the questions our clients ask most frequently is what they should read before they arrive for their tour and its surprisingly hard to answer people.
We know that they simply want to educate themselves before they arrive. Here's why it can be hard:
Many thousands of books have been written about the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Custer's Last Stand, the Custer Battlefield, The Battle of the Greasy Grass. . . and just the fact that there are so many names for the site, and that different factions of enthusiasts and historians cling to their own favored name, should tell you that passions run high about this historical event.
Some books are critical, analytical and fact based, while others tell stories oriented to the political persuasion of the author. Some are well-loved and deemed 'popular or great' simply because they are on the back-list of a big publishing house, but they may never have been updated to include recent research about the battle, and frankly, some peddle absolute garbage because an author trying to make their name in the field had an 'idea' that would make their book stand out from the rest of the field (and as we all know, some folks never let facts get in the way of a good story!)
It would probably surprise you to know how many of these authors call us to book a battlefield ride as a celebration gift to themselves for finishing their books. Yes, they ride the battlefield AFTER their book has gone to print!
But whatever the quality of the writing or research, the truth is that very few tell both sides of the story.
Our full reading list and review page will be with you very soon. Sign up here to be notified when it goes live.
Why is it worth spending a whole day on the Battle of the Little Bighorn?
When we claim to offer the best tours at the Little Bighorn, we don't say so lightly. Its time the truth of events leading to this cataclysmic event on the plains was known and accepted. And remember although the battle at the Greasy Grass was won by the Cheyenne and Lakota, the reverberations of the war still continue to this very day around many Plains Nations.
Of course you will have a great time on your tour, but our guide's responsibility is not just to you. All Little Bighorn Tours guides relate this story for the ancestors, as though the battle participants are standing with you, listening. And their goal is to be sure the story (which cost so many their lives) is told in a way that would make those participants nod, and agree that the truth is being told of their actions, deeds and sacrifices. Truth matters and we are dedicated to telling that truth.
To other tour companies who cover 'the Custer Battlefield', the mission is simply to have a guides learn enough basic information to entertain visitors, load as many mini buses from Billings as they can, and make money. They will 'throw in' excursions to nearby battlefields as a bonus, but they don't do those stories justice either. To us, this is the difference.
Will I get to walk or hike on the Little Bighorn Battlefield wherever I'd like to go?
Not just anywhere. The land of the battlefield is privately owned. The Park Service has a lease on the 4 1/2 mile road through the battlefield, and has access to 6 feet either side of the road and no further, and permission must be gained for anyone to venture onto the private lands. We get that permission for you, but there are still some restrictions.
How much time to allow at the Little Bighorn?
The best tours we offer run all day. But for the first time we are offering short tours of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, however we ask that you consider your tour carefully. If you truly only have a morning or afternoon in your schedule and the alternative is that you can't go with one of our guides at all, then take a 1/2 day tour. Or if you have kids, or other party members with a limited attention span, book the half day or evening tour. But before you do, please read the next FAQ down.
If I do a shorter Little Bighorn battlefield tour will I get the same information?
No. This story begins long before June 25th, 1876. It is an epic and fascinating tale of the clash of cultures that decimated Plains Indian peoples and it needs and deserves time. We can't tell a story that needs 6 hours in half that time, and we don't want to give you less than our best tour. However, sometimes needs must.
Full Story Tours run from 8:30am - 1:30pm,
HALF Tours are from 2pm - 4:30pm
Evening Tours 6pm - 8pm.
Evening Tours are suspended until NPS hours resume to normal summer closing of 8pm.
Why do some people still call the Little Bighorn Battlefield 'the Custer Battlefield?'
Very strange that they do! Nowhere else in America is there a battlefield memorial story dedicated to the losers. But here in the West there are many descendants of the US military as well as Native descendants, which may account for the resistance in some quarters to move on and embrace the re-name that was authorized by Congress in 1991.
Tell me about the Indian Memorial at the Little Bighorn battlefield.
Native people had long asked for there to be something commemorating the battle that noted the Lakota and Cheyenne victory, but this had fallen on deaf ears until finally a competition was dreamed up to design a monument to the indigenous story. Many assumed it would be opened to Native people, so they could tell their own story (something that is lacking in interpretive signs talks at the site to this day) but actually it was opened to artists worldwide.
The architect who won was John R. Collins from Philadelphia, and he won the memorial design contest without ever setting foot in the West, beating 563 others designs. The Little Bighorn Indian Memorial is one of the most photographed areas of the battlefield, and is particularly striking with a sunset behind it. The most photographed however is the Custer monument on Last Stand Hill
Are there horseback tours at the Little Bighorn ?
Yes! if you would like to horseback ride at the Little Bighorn, we send rides out at 8am most days, but you MUST BOOK AHEAD! We do not accept walk-in bookings because this isn't the kind of nose to tail ride where horses are left saddled and tied all day in the hope that tourists will show up!
You don't need to be an experienced rider, but follow the word of your wrangler, wear shoes/boots with heels (absolutely no trainers or flipflops) and take water and a sunhat.
Things to do near the Little Bighorn ?
There are multiple related sites in the area and we offer Native American guiding at all of them:
The Battle of the Rosebud - Take the grassy path that leads through the valley toward the Old Buffalo Jump. Hear of the stories of the battle’s participants who were involved in a titanic struggle, which lasted more than 6 hours and how on June 17 went down in Cheyenne history as one of outstanding bravery – the story of the Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother was an event of cultural magnitude and inspiration which still resonates in the present day culture of the Cheyenne.
The Fetterman Miscalculation - If you are interested in visiting the site where Captain Fetterman led his 80 men in a forbidden charge over Lodge Trail Ridge, resulting in ambush finely planned by Lakota military leader Crazy Horse, please call the office on 307 699 6015. Please note: we offer this tour only as part of a two-tour package with a Little Bighorn Full Story Exerience.
SORRY - UNAVAILABLE FOR 2021
The Deer Medicine Rocks - It was here, in 1876, that the Lakota chief Sitting Bull had a vision of soldiers tumbling into his camp, and carved this script into the stone - the figures, though a little faint, are very visible. Not long after that, not far from here, at a place history remembers as Little Bighorn, the men of General George Custer’s 7th Cavalry played their parts, as predicted.
SORRY - UNAVAILABLE FOR 2021
The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation - The Cheyenne culture is complex, deeply spiritual and beautiful, the Tsitsistas language is still spoken, and traditional people have retained their ways. Formerly named the Tongue River Indian Reservation, the 707 square miles of what 5000 residents call ‘God’s Country’ is the home of the Tsitsistas – the Morning Star People, or the Northern Cheyenne.
Discover the Little Bighorn - If you are very interested in all things Little Bighorn, then this exploration is the trip for you.
Spend three days in the company of one of the finest tribal historians on the Plains, visit places off limits to the general public and learn the intricacies of tribal warfare in cultural context. Learn more here