Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Peace through Unity - Tues., June 6, 2017

Monday night we stayed at the Rodeway Inn in Hardin, Montana, which is 15 miles from Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LBBNM) where our next pre-convention Volksmarch will take place. Susan and I walked across the street to DQ for dinner.

Tuesday morning, we were up early. Our walk instructions told us the LBBNM gate opened at 8:00 a.m. Our Volksmarch would start at 8:30 a.m. Because we wanted to have a parking space, we were at the (locked) entry gate at 7:30 a.m. The National Park Service wanted our group to come in early, walk, then leave before the park became too crowded.

Weather: Cloudy most of the time we walked
Temperature: 66
Wind: Slight
Shade: None, except in the VisitorCenter

Waiting for the park to open
Other Volksmarchers waited too
Early birds, as usual, we had to wait for the Volksmarching volunteers to set up for the check-in, check-out process. After check in, with walk instructions in hand, we headed past Custer National Cemetery. 

The Little Bighorn Battlefield memorializes one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians -- Arikara, Apsaalooke, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Oyate tribes -- to preserve their ancestral, independent, nomadic way of life. Three U.S. Army columns were to converge on the Indians concentrated in southeastern Montana under the leadership of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and other war chiefs.

Custer National Cemetery in top of photo,
the trail to Deep Ravine is in the foreground
On the trail to Deep Ravine
Custer's command (one of the three U.S. Army columns deployed in the area where the current national cemetery is now) advanced into the basin across the road before they were forced to withdraw to Last Stand Hill. Toward the end of the battle, some soldiers charged or fled to Deep Ravine but were quickly overwhelmed and killed.

Deep Ravine overlook
Coming uphill from Deep Ravine - markers
show where U.S. 7th Cavalry fell
Volksmarchers on the trail
View of the surrounding countryside
From the Deep Ravine, we headed to the Indian Memorial, my favorite spot on our walk. The theme of the memorial, "Peace through Unity," acknowledges the need for cooperation both among Indian tribes and between tribal governments and the federal government. This section of the park has its own interpretive brochure.

The piece de resistance of the Indian Memorial is this Spirit Warrior Sculpture. According to information in the brochure: 
"This bronze sculpture of three Native American Spirit Warriors riding off to battle was designed by Oglala artist Colleen Cutschall. The Spirit Warriors (Oyate, Cheyenne, and Arapaho) and the woman handing off the shield are silhouetted against the contant yet ever changing Great Plains sky--the proverbial home of the Spirit..."
Spirit Warrior Sculpture
Also incorporated into the Indian Memorial are the Spirit Gate and 7th Cavalry, as well as engraved granite panels. Per the park brochure, the Spirit Gate is a narrow opening in the wall that orients the memorial toward Last Stand Hill and the 7th Cavalry Memorial. The Spirit Gate acts as a passageway for the cavalry dead into the Memorial's sacred central circle where they can then proceed on to the afterlife. Though many of the tribes represented in the memorial were adversaries of the U.S. Army at the time of the battle, the Spirit Gate is meant to signify the mutual respect and admiration that has since formed between the two parties, and further advocate the "Peace through Unity" philosophy.

The engraved granite panels provide space for each tribe that participated in the battle to commemorate their warriors and the battle as they see fit. The decision on how to list battle participants was made independently by each tribe. The Crow and Arikara tribes, who served as scounts for the U.S. in this particular battle, use slightly different wording in remembering their ancestors since only the Arikawa suffered casualties. The Oyate, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were allied together in opposition to the United States government. While the Cheyenne and Oyate suffered casualties and thus chose to honor those who had fallen; the Arapaho focused commemoration on those who fought, as there were no casualties.
Scenic "rest area" to chat, tie your shoelaces,
and empty gravel out of your shoes
From the Indian Memorial to the end of the 10k walk was an out-and-back walk on the park road. Here are some scenes from the rest of our walk, including some beautiful wildflowers.

Yellow salsify or goat's beard
Tragopogon dubius

Marker for a fallen Indian warrior

Grasses against the sky

Beautiful grasses look like trees!


Walkers starting out as we're finishing
The Volksmarch was well attended and our group did take up a lot of the parking. There was a traffic jam in the park around 11:00 a.m. 

Those of us who finished the walk wanted time to look at the Visitor Center and see the movie. However, we were very disgusted with the National Park Service when it came time to see the movie. 

When we got to the Visitor Center theater, the 10:30 movie was letting out. The room had been packed and no one else could get in. As soon as they left, we went in and sat down with about ten other people thinking the next movie would start in a couple of minutes. Ten minutes later, still no movie. 

Darren went to ask the park ranger when the next movie would be. He told us it wasn't scheduled until noon!! They wouldn't show it before then because they had a range giving a talk outside. Those of us in the theater wanted to see the movie, not hear the ranger talk. The park ranger would not show us the movie, so we left without seeing it. I don't know if we'll every be back there. There were people from as far away as Virginia and Pennsylvania who did not get to see the movie. 

I wrote a comment in their visitor registration log about how disappointed I was not to be able to see the movie. A few minutes later, I saw the park ranger go over and remove the page with my disparaging comment. He kept looking at me. I have a word for him, but I'm not going to use it.

After the Visitor Center, we went into Hardin again to have lunch at Dairy Queen. From Hardin, Montana, we took a short drive to Billings where our American Volkssport Association Convention is being held. It was early but our rooms were ready and we were able to check in. We will now be in one hotel for four nights! We get to unpack everything. Yay!

American Volkssport Association
banner at the hotel
Tonight, I have no obligations so I take the opportunity to soak in the hotel's hot tub. It felt so good after all the walking we've been doing. 

Tomorrow, we start our day off with a Volksmarch, then have lunch, followed by a General Session in the afternoon. 

Note: You haven't heard from me in a few days because I've been too busy to write, or else have been off of wi-fi/internet in Yellowstone National Park. There's lots more to tell you, so keep on checking back. Good night.

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