High on a bluff overlooking the Knife River in the Upper Missouri River valley, soft winds ruffle the lush grasses that cover, but cannot hide circle after circle of raised earth with central depressions. Our journey begins at these Old Villages - beautiful marks of vibrant culture and here we learn of the formation of Cheyenne bands, the Cheyenne nation’s development and the subsequent arrival of Hunkpapa Lakotas into this area; this world into which Sitting Bull was born. From the Missouri to the Yellowstone Rivers on the plains of his homeland, we learn of Sitting Bull’s family and of significant events from his childhood and youth with insights from his descendents. In that environment we explore traditional Lakota ways to place Sitting Bull’s life into cultural context, before reviewing the attitudes of the Euro-Americans and seeking to appreciate Sitting Bull’s concept of the world that he knew, aside that which would ultimately be forced upon his people. Exploring Fort’s Rice and Stevenson, we discuss Sitting Bull’s 1866 campaign to close the Missouri River Forts. On Standing Rock Reservation we discuss the rise of the Midnight Strong Hearts – the elite warrior society of Sitting Bull, Gall and Crow King. We learn too of Sitting Bull’s roles as chief, and as a Sun Dancer.
The building of Fort Abe Lincoln (the ultimate in ‘no-bid-contracts’ for the Northern Pacific Railroad), brought Custer and his 7th Cavalry, and here we begin the road to the Little Bighorn. The so-called Great Sioux War of 1876 remains the most famous ‘Indian War’ but many sites are remote or known only to a handful of historians or descendents of participants. Chalk Buttes, Mizpah Creek, Powder River and Pumpkin Creek; all Lakota and Cheyenne camp sites and we find that the vast plains, mountains and endless skies of Montana and Wyoming add to the lure that is embodied by those associated with this epic struggle: Crazy Horse, George A Custer, Sitting Bull, Medicine Crow, George Crook, Low Dog, Gall… We travel up the Rosebud to Cone Butte then to the Deer Medicine Rocks; the outstanding Cheyenne and Lakota sacred site where Sitting Bull’s vision of soldiers without ears falling like grasshoppers into camp can still be seen. We follow the fateful route of the Cheyenne, the Lakota and the Seventh Cavalry to the Little Bighorn, reliving the battle, and viewing the terrain as Crazy Horse and Custer saw it, starting at the village along the Little Bighorn River and following the battle as it unfolded.
Journey dates: July 5th – July 18th (Europeans return July 19th)
Can’t make these set dates? Not necessarily a problem. Please Contact Us with your wishlist of sites and areas – we can create a private itinerary for you with our team of all-indigenous guides.
Start - Bismarck, North Dakota, finish – Billings, Montana
We don't charge single supplements and we don't ask tour members to share rooms. We are happy to provide add-on experiences for tour members, and will make all the US$ cost revisions for you. Please discuss possibilities and pricing with Sarah
What tour members say:
"It was an absolutely an incredible opportunity to spend that afternoon with Serle Chapman. I can still see some of the chiefs in those hills. It felt like Serle was an actual participant in the battle who came back to share with us some of the details of the day." Sharon Hansen, Florida, US
"...All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight."
Please contact us for prices in US dollars. You can supplement the Strong Hearts tour with a stay at our tipi ranch or extra guided excursions with our Lakota or Cheyenne guides, at either end of your journey with us. Please contact us for details – these extra activities are usually only offered by prior arrangement
Also see tour packages in:
USA South Dakota North Dakota Montana Local Culture Cultural Journey Native Americans