October 4, 2004
This site protects and interprets the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle, where the 7th U.S. Calvary and Lt. Col George A. Custer attacked on November 27, 1868. Controversy surrounds this sight, as the Indians and whites felt the attack was more of a massacre. Peace Chief Black Kettle and his wife were among the many who perished here.
The troopers attacked the 51 lodges here, killing a number of men, women, and children. Custer’s account of the victims differed from the Indians, who say mostly women and children were killed. Custer also slaughtered about 800 animals and torched the lodges of Black Kettle’s people. This battle changed how the tribes viewed reservation life.
The actual site has an observation deck and a monument describing the battle. You can look out at the land where the battle occurred and see the hills from where Custer began his attack. When I went, there wasn’t anyone from the park service there to answer questions. I’m not sure they have someone regularly, but I believe tours are available.
As this is part of the National Park Service, you can get your park passport stamped at the Black Kettle Museum and gift shop in downtown Cheyenne. There they have books and exhibits about Cheyenne and the battle. Call ahead to find out their hours, as they are closed for lunch.
I recommend reading "Washita" by Mary Jane Ward for more information. I’m certainly not a history buff, but I could easily understand this book. The site itself doesn’t really offer a great deal besides the monument, but the scenery is really nice. I arrived at the museum 1 minute before lunch break so I didn’t get to see much. Still, I think you would have more to see and learn from than the actual site.
From journal Remembering Black Kettle at the Washita Battlefield