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Burying the Hatchet in Montana

By Linda Tancs

“Garry Owen” is an old Irish quick-step that can be traced back to the 1800s. The town of Garryowen, Montana, was named after the old Irish tune, purportedly one of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s favorite marching songs. It was the last song played by the band for Custer’s men as they left the Terry column at the Rosebud River, the lead-up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn—a definitive engagement between the U.S. Cavalry and northern tribe Indians (including the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho) known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” A registered historic site, the town is privately owned and the only one within the battlefield. It is the site of the Custer Battlefield Museum, housing important Indian War period artifacts and manuscripts related to Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and the 7th Cavalry as well as a lock of Custer’s hair. You’ll also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the burial site of one of the first casualties of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The granite tomb was dedicated 50 years after the conflict in 1926 during the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony featuring White Bull (a Sioux Indian) and General Godfrey.

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