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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
Who Are Eddie & Isabella?
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Eddie & Isabella on Last Stand Hill, Little Bighorn
In June 2009 during my annual trek to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LIBI), I had a lengthy conversation with then Superintendent Kate Hammond. I asked her what kept her awake at night. One concern she had was that she noticed fewer young people visiting the Parks and she hoped to turn that around. Turns out, that concern would grow across the entire Park system over the next two years.
During our drive back home, I shared highlights of this conversation with my wife Joanne Blair. I had an idea that might help with Ms. Hammond's concern. Why not add a "Kids Section" to the Friends website. Problem was, I didn't know what that section should include or even what it should look like.
Coincidentally -- for several years before -- we had been taking photos of one of Joanne's stuffed bears during our road trips. Joanne named him Buddy and he had been visiting a lot of great historical places including LIBI. For Valentine's Day one year, I gave Joanne an additional stuffed animal that I named Bear With Horns. His name was in honor of one of the warriors who had died fighting in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Bear with Horns (L) and Buddy at the Bear with Horns warrior marker
Joanne suggested the kid's section could include photos of Buddy and Bear with Horns on trips to the national parks. I loved the idea and expanded it even further to make it interactive for kids by sending in photos of their favorite stuffed animal in a national park. More ideas were forthcoming and here we are with the new characters, Eddie and Isabella.
Why the names Eddie and Isabella?
Since the purpose of Eddie & Isabella is to encourage children to want to visit the Parks, it seemed appropriate to name the two main characters after people who were significant to the Parks.
For Eddie, I knew his namesake had to be influential to LIBI and there was only one person I could imagine: Superintendent Edward S Luce. He was the first superintendent after the Park Service took over managing LIBI from the War Department in 1941. He completed his service in 1956. Not only did Luce have such a deep affection for LIBI, but he actually served as a sergeant of Company B in the 7th Cavalry. Luce knew several soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn including Charles Windolph who died in 1950 in Lead, South Dakota.
Supt Edward Luce visiting with Mari Sandoz inside the fence on Last Stand Hill 1949 -- photo courtesy LIBI
Joanne quickly decided on Isabella Bird for our Owl character because of her importance to the history of Rocky Mountain National Park. Bird was a world traveler first leaving her home of Britain in 1854 to visit relatives in the United States. She would eventually make her way to Colorado where she fell in love with its Rocky Mountain Range. Her letters back home to her sister would eventually be turned into her most famous book "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" which is still in print.
Bird spent most of her time in what is today's Rocky Mountain National Park within eyesight of Long's Peak. She died in 1904.
Should Your Child Participate In Eddie & Isabella's Adventures?
We would encourage parents to take photos of their children with their favorite stuffed animal(s) while visiting a U.S. national park, state park, and/or historical site. If you email us the photo(s), we'll include them in our gallery.
Abby of Idaho is our first child photographed with Eddie & Isabella
Photo by Joanne Blair
We believe strongly in protecting the privacy of your child. We use first names and state or country only. We also insist that one or both of the parents give us permission. Please include the name of the child, the state you live in, the name of the place the photo was taken, and the date. All final decisions to publish the photo in the Eddie and Isabella Gallery is the sole discretion of Bob Reece and Joanne Blair.
Please send all photos in jpeg format to:
Bob, Joanne, and Kate hope someday that children will ask their parents to take them to a national park instead of the parents insisting they do. Our Parks are too beautiful for us not to experience. Take your children to the Parks and bring home wonderful memories.
Bob Reece & Joanne Blair
The characters Eddie and Isabella as well as all associated characters are created by, trademarks of and © Bob Reece and Joanne Blair. All rights reserved.
The stuffed animals are made by Build-A-Bear Retail Management, Inc. Build-A-Bear Workshop®
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022