Washita Battlefield National Historic Site


[speaking in the Cheyenne language] We walk great distances to many sacred places of our people. Walking was uh… our means of travel. God gave us uh… our, our moccasins to walk on because all of the things that that were made with the moccasins come from Mother Earth. We had the hide of the buffalo, the soul of the buffalo, and the skin, the buck skin of the deer. So today, you know, as we walk this, this sacred life, this, this Cheyenne road of life, and we walk it for our people. And we walk it with that pride, strength, courage and most of all, honor. This site actually makes it very easy to, uh,
incorporate both the cultural and natural resources because our enabling legislation states that uh… we should try to restore the property as close as
possible to its eighteen sixty-eight appearance. And so that gives us the mandate, but with the resources that we have
to work with it’s, it’s going to be a natural process to incorporate the
history of the site with the natural features that we have still in place. Black Kettle, who was a great Peace Chief, signed the Medicine Lodge treaty in eighteen sixty-four which brought the Cheyenne up to a reservation set aside for them here in West Central
Oklahoma. As settlers moved west, they moved into the area that the
Cheyenne considered theirs and it was a clash of cultures per se. Black Kettle gained no protection from
the other tribes because he continually strove for peace, and tragically, he and his band were attacked that cold winter morning on that surprise attack by, by Custer, and it’s just a tragic story, but it, that was the end of the way of
life that they had known for, for generations. We utilized the buffalo for lodging. We could, uh, stretch out the buffalo and take off the hair and the women would sew the pieces together to make tipis. And it made the, uh, lodge very comfortable to have a buffalo hide tipi with the, uh, buffalo fur serving as the uh… carpet and even the bedding. And of course it provided us food throughout
the year. Prairie restoration, particularly here at
Washita, is, is, is very important. One of the aspects of interpreting this site
is to, uh, talk a little bit about, uh, the
significance of, of the grasslands, the significance of, uh, of the wildflowers and, uh, our goal is to continue interpreting, uh, not just the history of the area but
the history of this, uh, beautiful land. This is a pretty good mix of native prairie grass. Branching off of the prairie restoration project, um, we had an opportunity to create an ethnobotanical garden. And we had the idea from a couple of Cheyenne students who had worked with the Cheyenne Cultural Center, and we felt it was an opportunity to, um, to show in an area of what we were trying to achieve for the long term prairie restoration project, but we can also coordinate with the tribes and have it as an example of and how important these plants um, and trees were, were to the Cheyenne and
the Southern Plains tribes. Willow is really important to us. Um, it maintains a lot of moisture. But one of
the medicine uses the Cheyenne have for this is it has aspirin in it. Today it’s a common knowledge that we utilize the aspirin that’s inside this willow tree. It’s this native garden. We can utilize this as an educational tool to educate everyone in what the environment is, what Mother Earth is, but most of all, educating them on the beauty of Cheyenne, Arapaho, and native people. So I encourage and I, uh, envision many, many tribes, as well as Cheyenne people that come to this place, will come down here to cleanse, to pray, and to contemplate, and most of all, to memorialize their thoughts of their descendants that died here at the Washita Massacre. [singing] [Cheyenne prayer]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *