History they say is written by the victors, and there is a great truth to that.
A truth that at one point portrayed Custer as both a heroic figure and a victim who lost his life at the hands of murderous savages while defending “his” country.
Web sites and books can still be found that cling to that portrayal.
It’s difficult to understand the mindset given the present level of awareness.
It is known that Custer had political aspirations, even seeing himself as presidential material-it’s also known he wasn’t short on ego, which seems to be a common trait among those who seek or rise to a position of leadership.
If you look at his strategy in approaching the Big Horn, the splitting of his command, ignoring the advice of his officers, but more importantly his scouts, you can’t help but wonder what he was thinking.
Was he so driven to claim a victory that he ignored one and all, did he see himself and the Seventh as the spearhead of the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny, did he hate so much, or was he merely a fool?
Historians will continue to speculate and argue various points while offering opinions-but one thing remains as a fact-Custer had it coming, he wasn’t a hero, he was a usurper leading an invading force bent on destruction, acquisition, and oppression.
Ultimately he paid for his sins in the most personal of ways, with his life.
In the below link one can see various accounts of who actually killed Custer and the sites own interpretation of the most likely candidate.
In the second link it can be seen that the Cheyenne had a particular grievance related to Custer and in 2005 after over a hundred years of silence publicly spoke the name Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a Cheyenne woman who participated in the battle.
Ultimately it may not matter who killed Custer,because in the end the Big Horn became a death knell for the nations as newspapers of that time portrayed the battle as a massacre, fanned the flames of public hysteria and outrage based on their reporting, and then in unison demanded a swift no holds barred response by the government and military.
Sitting Bull fled to Canada with his band and the Cheyenne and those who remained bore the initial brunt of the military response.
And as they say the rest is history-a history composed of five hundred plus years of the blood of our people soaking the land.
Each of our nations can claim a victory in a battle or even battles along this tortuous five hundred year long path, but a victory and being victorious are not the same as the conditions of our lives speaks to. A difficult reality to accept.
The victories now will come from the court room battlefields and the victory of the cradle that will insure our continuation.
If we are to be victorious it will be the result of the manner in which we live our lives and the nature of our communities, that and achieving a true and lasting sovereignty.