How can Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument better interpret the history it seeks to preserve? That's a relatively simple question, but one not so easily answered.
The monument that seeks to interpret Custer's Last Stand in June 1876 against the Sioux Nation is undersized, needs a larger visitor center with room for artifacts in a more appropriate location, and currently leads visitors in a backward direction tracing the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry defeat at the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who overwhelmed General George Armstrong Custer's troops.
Back in August 2008 National Park Service officials admitted they erred in pushing an expansion of the monument's visitor center and agreed to start over. The Park Service had planned to erect an enclosed theater seating 200 people at the base of Last Stand Hill, site of the climax of the 1876 battle in which five companies of the 7th Cavalry were wiped out.
But Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went to court to block the plan, arguing that the project would occupy the middle of the battlefield and block views of how the battle evolved as well as where it ended.
Now monument officials have scheduled a series of meetings to see if some agreement can be reached on how best to proceed with enhancing visitors' experiences at the battlefield, possibly enlarging its boundaries, and deciding where to situate an improved visitor center.
The public meetings are scheduled for:
Billings, Montana, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Parmly Billings Library, located at 510 N 28th St., Suite 2.
Hardin, Montana, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the Super 8 Motel, located at 201 14th St. W.
Golden, Colorado, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at The American Mountaineering Center, located at 710 10th St., Suite 100.
There also will be Internet Webinars and Teleconference conducted on December 6 at 6 p.m. MDT and December 8 at 2 p.m. MDT.
* To participate in a webinar meeting go to http://doilearn.webex.com, then click on the “meeting center” tab. From there type in “LIBI” for the meeting name.
* To participate via telephone as part of a moderated teleconference on December 6, at 6 p.m. MST, dial 1-800-779-1424 and use passcode 6215319 when prompted. To participate via telephone as part of a moderated teleconference on December 8, at 2 p.m., MST, dial 1-800-790-3288 and use passcode 6215319 when prompted
“The National Park Service invites everyone to be a part of this important discussion,” Little Bighorn Superintendent Kate Hammond said. “The battle at Little Bighorn is one of the most important events in the development of our nation and we all share in the responsibility to maintain this historic site.”