Friends Of The Little Bighorn Battlefield

The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand

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Background of Project

By Gary & Joy Gilbert        Bookmark and Share

Webmaster's Note: Gary & Joy Gilbert are members of the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. They provide countless volunteer hours to the National Park Service not only at LBH but at Ft. Bowie as well. The Friends’ organization gives a big thank-you to Gary, Joy, and Chief Historian John Doerner  for their hard work.

In January 2002 Neil Mangum, Supt. of LBH, invited us as volunteers to work at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. We worked on the Touch Screen Project for the Visitors Center under John Doerner, Chief Historian in the White Swan Memorial Library. The Touch Screen Project includes the registry for the Custer National Cemetery, the 7th U.S. Cavalry in 1876, Indian warriors at the Little Bighorn, a description of Forts in the area, weapons used in the battle, and other military units in the Sioux War of 1876.

We returned in September 2003 to finalize and ready the data for submission to the touch screen vendor. The 7th Cavalry data, the rosters of the other military units in the 1876 campaign were brought up to date. Our biggest task was to refine the list of the Indian warriors at the Little Bighorn Battle. We knew there were errors, duplications, and missed warriors. The work already completed would be our guide, but we would start from scratch and check, revise, and add to the data.

Researching the warrior names was difficult, interesting, and confusing. We found some Indians with more than one name – and then often cited as two different warriors. The Indian name and an AKA became necessary to keep from duplication. Some errors were made in the past and unfortunately would be repeated, which we especially tried to avoid.

In July 2007, a Minnikojou Lakota, living at Eagle Butte SD recognized some of his ancestors on the warrior list on the Friends website and asked for a copy of the reference. We sent him the reference which was the R.C. Craige letter listing warriors living at Cheyenne River Sioux Agency in 1926 who fought in the LBH battle. This led to a great exchange of information and a lasting friendship. My Lakota friend showed the Craige letter to other Lakota who have contacted us with information on Lakota at the battle.

We are grateful for the amazing knowledge John Doerner shared with us when we were stumped. John is constantly finding more warriors, warrior information, and making decisions whether to add or delete a warrior. Also the well-stocked library at the White Swan Memorial Library provided us nearly all the reference material.

We now continue to research from home in finding names of Indians at LBH. People with questions or information about the warriors contact Bob Reece through the website. Bob directs them to us when it seems we are on the same path in learning who was at the battle. We also come across leads in books and articles and from other researchers. This opens up more research for us, and our warrior list has increased these past years. We added another list called “Non-Combatants”, due to finding names of Indians who were at the Indian camp during the battle but who were not participants.

We have had great people to work with and feel good about providing a service. Living and working at the battlefield was wonderful. Even now when we are at the Battlefield, we often look over our shoulders, feeling the “ghosts” of the battlefield. We wish they would tell us their names.

Updated April 2011

VIPs (Volunteer in the Parks) Gary & Joy Gilbert reviewing and entering data.

Gary & Joy – husband and wife team providing countless volunteer hours to the National Park Service

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