After two years of hosting the Native American Race Relations and Healing Lecture Series, one of the things that I have found most surprising about this experience is how little I knew about Native American history and culture.
Not to mention how many assumptions I had made through the years, assumptions that were based on repetition of certain myths. Even though I know, like most of us, that the history of our region is a classic example of the heroes creating the narrative, I had never stopped to consider where I might find the real answers.
So I’m pleased to have someone speaking to our group tonight who wrote a compelling book about the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and who plans to tell us some of the stories that most of us haven’t had a chance to hear.
Tim Lehman is professor of history at Rocky Mountain College, where he teaches a wide variety of courses in American, Western and environmental history. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the author of two books, “Public Values, Private Lands: American Farmland Preservation Policy, 1933-1985” (University of North Carolina Press, 1995) and “Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), which won the Best Nonfiction Award in the High Plains Bookfest.
From 1996 to 1999 he served on the board of the Montana Committee for the Humanities (now Humanities Montana). He is also a frequent speaker for public audiences about various topics in western history. Tonight, starting at 7 in the Royal Johnson Community Room at the Billings Public Library, he will be speaking about what he found in his research for his second book.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, popularly known as Custer’s Last Stand, remains as an iconic moment in the history of the American West. It has etched George Armstrong Custer’s name as a hero, or for many people an anti-hero, in national culture.
This talk will use records from popular culture—newspaper accounts, films, paintings and poems—to move beyond the traditional myth of Custer’s Last Stand and offer fresh heroes from the battle, emphasizing the native participants.
Blending popular culture and traditional history, the presentation will show how the Battle of the Little Bighorn involved a cast of interesting, quirky, unconventional and surprising heroes.