I was traveling to Billings, Montana from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, to catch a flight. I had been camping and hiking solo for 3 weeks at this point and didn't realize I was going to drive past the Battle of the Greasy Grass, otherwise known as the Battle of Little Big Horn.
It was just over an hour before the gates closed and I didn't need to be in Billings until the next evening, so I decided to stop in before looking for a campground closer to Billings. I walked around the graveyard and thought, "wow, this is it." I then went to the visitors center and was told I could drive down a long road to view the places where battles happened and that there would markers where native people and calvary men were buried.
I still had about 45 minutes so I took off in my rental to the first overlook. As I walked up, I had my head down looking at the ground, stepped up off of the curb and onto the overlook before looking out onto the beautiful rolling hills. But what I see is a battle happening right in front of me.
Native people on foot, calvary on horseback and on foot. Both had guns but natives also had bows. It startled me and I shook my head, similar to a wet dog, and it all disappeared. I thought whoa what the heck was that, but then just forgot about it as I checked out the markers and looked out over the hills. I've come to realize that things happen to me and I don't take it all too seriously.
I got back in the rental to go to the next overlook. I had my head down until I reached the overlook and I saw another battle happening, not the same as the first, and then it just dissipated in a matter of a minute or so. I had time to go to one more overlook before they closed the gates and the same thing happened.
So I'm really intrigued now and find a place to camp nearby so that I can return.
I waiting at the gates before they opened. I continued to go to all of the 12 overlooks and saw different battles at each one.
I still had a little time before I needed to head to Billings so I decided to walk the little nature trail behind the visitor center.
I love to photograph snakes (especially rattlers) and wildflower, among other creatures in our natural world. So I take the walk looking for rattlers and photographing wildflowers.
As I walk down the path, it was as if I hit a brick wall that was not there. I could not walk further and I thought, "there are dead people everywhere." But then I looked around and did not see any markers so I said to myself that I was just being foolish and then continued the walk.
When I got to the end of the trail there was a kiosk that said that the deadliest of all battles was fought here and there are bodies everywhere. Because of the terrain they were not excavated.
I have not had an opportunity to return but I would like to one day to see if this happens again and take better note of the battles.
I often have experiences on native land and spoke to an elder about this who said that I am supposed to share these experiences about native people to kind of close a gap of understanding between natives and others. This occurred in 2007.