Everyone seems to know that a large band of Plains Indians were successful in repulsing the attack of General Custer and the 7th Cavalry during the battle of the Little Bighorn. I'm quite amazed at the number of persons I meet that have no idea the US Army had a sizeable number of Indian Scouts assisting them. I'm sure their individual reasons were many, but I believe the great Joe Medicine Crow summed it up best:
I know five of those scouts, they were old men when I was a young fellow, including my grandfather, White Man Runs Him. Why would a tribe of Indians decide to fight other tribes in behalf of the white man? Sioux won't let us forget that. They always say, You Crows are no good. You're white lovers, you help them fight against us. But they forget the fact that they came out here to annihilate us, take our land away from us, so there was a matter of protection.
Joe Medicine Crow
Several of the US Army Indian Scouts were wounded or killed at various stages of the battle. It makes me very happy that they are remembered at the battlefield along with the Warriors that perished there also. We all need to remember the Scouts as US Army combat veterans, not traitors, and not as Indian Soldiers but as US Army Soldiers who were Indians. It's the least we can do to honor their service.
Likewise the men who fought the Whites invading their territory need to be honored. Brave men are brave men, regardless of race or class. I frequently get it from both sides of the Custer debate. I'm told I'm a racist because I don't think General Custer was and I don't believe he was the Anti-Christ some portray him to be. I'm told I'm soft on the Indians because they were savages for what they did to the Troopers and settlers. Well they are both wrong about me. I'm certainly not racist since I'm one-quarter Shawnee and my son-in-law and most of my grandchildren are black. No I don't consider what the Indians did as savagery, however I certainly wouldn't have taken part in it in today's values. I take what I see as proper stance and try to see this battle through 19th century eyes, both Red and White. Very little of either sides view works very well in our 21st century eyes. I have always vowed to be fair, honest, and treat both sides of the conflict with respect and honor.
I certainly have many emotions over the Little Bighorn battle and US Army Indian veterans in the Indian Wars. My family tree includes Shawnee's who fought for the Confederates in the US Civil War. They weren't crazy about supporting the Confederate States of America but it was the old "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" type situation. Many Shawnee in that war fought for the Union. My uncles were all decorated US Army Combat veterans in Viet Nam and later wars.
One last shout out before I go! The next time you hear that Custer's defeat was the worst ever inflicted on the US Army by Indians, inform them that the Battle of Fort Recovery, Ohio was. The great Shawnee leader Blue Jacket helped inflict 623 soldiers killed or captured; 258 soldiers wounded; 24 workers killed; 14 wounded; and 33 women killed for a total of 952 casualties. One quarter of the ENTIRE US Army was wiped out. Am I happy the the US Army was so soundly smashed? No. I love the USA and will do whatever needs to be done to protect it. I do have a sense of pride in what my ancestors did however, winning such a prolific battle.