The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument will be featured tonight on “Mysteries at the Museum,” a popular show on the Travel Channel.
According to a press release from Visit Southeast Montana, show host Don Wildman takes a look at Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, which took place June 25-26, 1876, near what is now Crow Agency.
“Mysteries at the Museum” will air tonight, Thursday, Jan. 25, at 10 p.m. MST, with replays Friday at 1 a.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. and on Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. See www.travelchannel.com for updated dates and times.
A brief description of the episode on the Travel Channel website said Wildman “climbs onto the saddle to investigate what really happened on the day of the biggest defeat in U.S. military history. He highlights the iconic figures who took part in the historic battle and examines the legacy of this infamous encounter.”
For research, Wildman turned to Keith Herrin, owner of U.S. Cavalry School, and the Real Bird family, which has hosted a reenactment of the battle since the early 1990s. Cavalry School attendees come from all over the globe to be immersed in history and live as frontier cavalrymen as part of Custer’s Last Ride Adventure.
Attendees culminate their experience by portraying the 7th Cavalry in the reenactment. The Real Bird family hires young men of all ages to act as Plains Indians warriors in the production.
The Travel Channel’s crew filmed the new episode during the 2017 reenactment and documented both the reenactment and the U.S. Cavalry School on the Real Bird’s private property, which includes land where the tribes camped and later fought. The program will emphasize historical accuracy while addressing the still-murky details of the outcome.
“There are so many ‘what ifs’ in this battle,” Herrin said, according to the press release. “There’s so much that was either lost or not documented and many controversial questions remain today.”
Traditionally known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” the battle has been memorialized for more than 100 years. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, averages 300,000 visitors a year and is the most popular attraction in Southeast Montana. In 2003, the Indian Memorial was added to the park to honor all tribes who defended their way of life at the battle.
“The mystery surrounding the defeat of the U.S. 7th Cavalry and the plight of the Plains Indians attracts history buffs, Native Peoples, international travelers and domestic tourists to this site year after year,” said John Brewer, president and CEO of the Billings Chamber of Commerce, which is the managing organization for Visit Southeast Montana.
“This is where former-enemy tribes banded together, and the mighty U.S. military was defeated,” Brewer continued. “The historical and cultural significance remains strong today.”
The third weekend in June (June 22 -24 this year) is reserved annually for related celebrations, including the Real Bird Little Bighorn reenactment, Crow Native Days, Little Big Horn Days in nearby Hardin, and corresponding living histories, rodeos and parades.