Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Take Your Kids to the Little Bighorn Battlefield

Dear American Parent:  

The following are pictures of the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
We traveled here on a beautiful summer day driving all the way from Oregon.  My daughters and I have been studying American history, spending a great amount of time just driving around the country and reading.  It's been a wonderful physical and literary adventure.
Visiting the battlefield is quite incredible, the massive open and barren landscape...
The wide vast plains, the endless horizon, one cannot help but let their imagination wander onto that summer day in 1876 when Custer, surrounded by fiercely screaming and arrow-shooting natives, wiped out his entire cavalry unit in a matter of hours.
It's an eerie and somber place, and depending on your personal opinions of history and these wars against Native Americans, distinct and diverse opinions will be formed from walking the grounds.  
I can't recommend enough traveling here with your children... but in the right way: Reading the stories of these varied people, learning their names and voices, allowing history to become forever vivid in their mind.  Visiting here, I was a little ashamed to see many American children complaining about the heat and the short climb up toward the historic markers.  Kids crying, kicking the dirt, demanding sweats and treats for the effort ... just to enlighten themselves.  
It's shameful that we've come to this.  If you're an American parent dragging your kicking and screaming kid down the highway in a minivan for a couple of hours with their pristine iPad and headphones and video games just so that they can moan and pitch a fit because you're trying to teach them some history... really, my heart goes out to you.  Just remember that you're still the parent! That what you're doing has value.  Maybe all these soldiers died in vain 150 years ago for an unjust and villainous cause, but that doesn't mean we as American parents have to give up educating our children and learning from past mistakes.  My kids loved this place.  We sat down and read Dee Brown's incredible Indian history Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, it took us almost a month, and visiting the Battle of Little Bighorn National Park was invaluable in our understanding of that long and tragic narrative.  I encourage all parents this summer to get on the road.  Pack up your idle and screaming kids and your library books, and get on the road!  Go explore and learn!

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