CROW AGENCY, Mont. - On June 25, 1876, the 7th Cavalry of the U.S. Army, under the command of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, was defeated by seven bands of the allied Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota nations. June 25 marked the 131st anniversary of what is known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Nearly 200 people who attended the Little Bighorn commemoration that day witnessed the presentation of an executive proclamation from Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Steele and the Lakota Treaty Council that declared June 25 as ''Traditional Alliance Day'' for the Oglala Sioux Nation.
The proclamation reflected on the victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn as the traditional allies of the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho protected their land and way of life against a ''military machine,'' the U.S. Army. It also described the encroachment on Bear Butte as an ''utter disregard for human rights.''
''History has shown that when the traditional allied nations of the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho people are unified and work together, we can never be defeated,'' Northern Cheyenne Tribal President Eugene Little Coyote said. ''Today our people continue to fight battles to protect our inherent sovereign rights, our rights as indigenous people, and our human rights. We will rekindle this alliance to protect the sanctity of a shared sacred mountain. This mountain is Noavose to the Cheyenne, Mato Paha to the Lakota, but is commonly known as Bear Butte.''
Melvin White Bird, lieutenant governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, represented his respective nations in the rekindling of the old alliance.
''It is good that we are reuniting our tribal governments and people for a common goal,'' White Bird said. ''Those developers of our sacred sites like Bear Butte are the second coming of the same old cavalry. They are disrupting our lands and rights to be who we have always been. And this must stop.''
Russell Eagle Bear and Charlie Spotted Tail of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Office were also present.
''Our allied nations have always had a connection with the land we lived on,'' Eagle Bear said. ''We always had a shared interest to revere sacred sites like Bear Butte, the Deer Medicine Rocks and where Crazy Horse had his vision. But we also understood the importance of sites where people died like the Rosebud Battlefield, the Battle of Wolf Mountains, and this site, the Little Bighorn. It seems that the only way non-Indians will respect our relationship with the land is through their idea of ownership on paper. And this is why we still are struggling today.''
Jason Little of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council and Donna Solomon, executive secretary to the Oglala tribal president, represented the Oglala Sioux.
''Our alliance existed for nearly four centuries as we worked together to protect our lands, to help one another when in need and defend our people,'' Little said. ''To protect Mato Paha we need such an alliance so our voices will be heard. I am glad to see this reunification.''
Solomon presented the executive proclamation.
Little then presented certified Resolution No. 07-119 from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, ''Supporting the Rekindling, Reunification, and Strengthening of the Traditional Allied Nations of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe to Protect and Preserve Their Sacred Sites from Encroachment and Development.''
The traditional allies of the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho will plan to meet regularly to achieve their common goals.