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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meeting Joe Medicine Crow

Even though it is midway through August, things are still busy as ever here in Garryowen. With all the kids heading back to school, I thought it would slow down as the tourist season came to a close, but I have been proven wrong. Right before Sami packed her bags to head back to Ohio, we had a very special visitor stop by the museum: Joe Medicine Crow.

Even before I was first notified that I had been accepted as an Intern, I had been hearing about Joe Medicine Crow. During my Western History class in college, my teacher told us about him and his trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Not only did he receive the highest civilian honor from President Obama, Joe Medicine Crow has also received the French Legion of Honor Chevalier medal from te French President. This French award, created by Napoleon to recognize people who performed great deeds to France, was given to Joe Medicine Crow because of his actions in World War II against the Germans. In Crow tradition, in order to become a War Chief, a warrior has to complete four stages of counting coup. When he returned home with his war stories, the elders realized that he had completed all four of these steps and was made a Crow War Chief. The French Legion of Honor Chevalier medal was presented to Joe Medicine Crow here at the Custer Battlefield Museum at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on June 25, 2008.

Joe Medicine Crow is the oldest Crow living; born in 1913, he has lived through a lot, both Crow history and general American history. He fought in World War II and has many educational achievements. As if that wasn’t enough to already make him an interesting person, he also serves as a Crow Tribal Historian and is a descendant of White-Man-Runs-Him, one of Custer’s Crow Scouts during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. We sell two of his books here at the museum and, after reading both, I can personally say that they are a great look into the Crow Tribe customs and history.

Sami and I had seen Joe Medicine Crow once before: he was present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn re-enactment that we attended in late June. He was brought out in front of the grandstands and introduced to the crowd. Both Sami and I had been hoping for our chance to actually meet him face to face.

It was a normal day here at Garryowen when he stopped by; there was no fanfare, just an adorable old man walking with a cane. Chris introduced the three of us to Joe Medicine Crow; he told him we were interns and the states we called home. We shook his hand and lined up for a picture. It was definitely a memorable moment. I’ve said many times before in this blog that seeing people dressed up as historical figures makes me excited because it’s the closest I’ll get to meeting or seeing the real person.

However, Joe Medicine Crow was not dressed up to represent someone else; he’s incredibly important just the way he is. Shaking his hand and standing next to him for a photo IS the closest I will get to any of the men or women who participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He is a descendant of a White-Man-Runs-Him, a man who was here that day and participated in the complex battle that I’ve spent so much time reading and learning about. I know I can speak for Rob and Sami when I say that this is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.

-- Aimee.

Here's a picture of us 3 interns with Joe: Robert, Aimee, Joe Medicine Crow & Sami

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Farewell my friends!

Good Morning All, Sami here one last time.

As I write this, I'm looking at my bags in the floor, ready to be taken with me today as I head to Billings and board that plane home. It's all so surreal right now honestly. The three months that I've been here have flown by in a whirlwind and I really wish it never had to end.

Since there have been so many impressive moments in my time here, and I can't even begin to try and pick my favorites, or most memorable, but I will say that this experience is one that I will forever be grateful for. It is amazing to realize how much that I've learned both from work and no, just from being out here.

There are so many things that have happened:
-The weather, (haha!)
-Working on the new exhibit in the museum
-The book signings by Chris Enss and Steve Alexander
-Re-enactment week
-Our kittens being born, playing with them, and finding them new homes
-Rodeo, and bull riding
-Clark Days
-Meeting Dr. Joe Medicine Crow and Pius Real Bird
-Watching Pow-Wow dancers at Crow Native Days
-Getting to know Chris, Linda, and my fellow interns

The history in this place is something that you can't find anywhere else. I've spent my summer looking over artifacts and documents about one of the most discussed battles in history, and you can't do that just anywhere. There's an appreciation that comes from being located on the battlefield, driving around and looking at the landscape that they traversed on that day, that you can't learn about in books no matter how hard you try.

Every good thing must eventually come to an end, I've been told, and its a sentiment that I share. While I am leaving now, Aimee and Rob will still be updating you since their time here isn't over yet- and like you, I will be turning in here from time to time to read about their adventures, and the interns to come next year!

With all the love in the world,

Friday, August 12, 2011

Clark Days !

Aimee here—the past few weeks at Garryowen have flown by! Between rodeos, birthdays, bull riding, and interns coming and going, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. About two weeks ago, Chris gave all three of us the day off to go to Clark Days. Clark (of the famous duo Lewis and Clark) Days is a festival that happens every summer at Pompey’s Pillar dedicated to the memory of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, but I want to reiterate the fact that I LOVE the story of Lewis and Clark. Needless to say, I had been itching to finally get a chance to experience some L & C stuff out here.

Pompey’s Pillar is a very historic place in itself. It stands as the only physical evidence on the land from the journey. In 1806, Clark carved his name and the date onto the rock structure. At the time, he also named it for Sacagawea’s son who he called Pomp. I had been looking forward to seeing this landmark since I found out I was moving to Montana, but when you add a day full of L & C themed activities, I could barely contain my excitement.
That morning, I put on my moccasins, beaded shorts and L & C shirt (yes, I do have a shirt with the pictures of L & C and a map on it) and hit the road. When we finally arrived, we checked out the Visitor’s Center. I had warned Sami and Rob that I would be “channeling my inner nerd” all day, but I don’t think they fully understood until I put on the “explorer” clothes they had on display. The center had about 2 shirts, a pair of pants, and a dress that looked and felt like what the explorers would have worn during the expedition. Of course, I made a silly pose like I was exploring and had Sami take a picture. When I disappeared to watch the movie by myself, I think they finally realized exactly what I had meant about reaching out to my inner nerd.

After I read about every sign and looked at every picture in the Visitor’s Center we ventured outside to the other activities. I thought I couldn't get anymore excited and then I saw Sacagawea. Obviously not the real one, but a woman was standing there in Native clothing depicting the famous Shoshone Indian woman. For those of you who don't know, I have been wearing moccasins for about three years now because of my nerd-love for Sacagawea. It was like I was seeing a celebrity; I wanted to get a picture with her, but I was too star struck to ask. I finally asked her (with much taunting from my fellow interns) and it is certainly a picture I will always treasure.

On the site, they had a lot of fun, educational activities. We learned about the medicine that was used on the expedition and the clothes they would have worn. I got to play dress-up again and this time Sami joined me. We put on some raccoon hats and Native shirts and had a small photo shoot. There was a booth set up to make a rubbing of the famous Wm. Clark signature. I asked the ladies if I was too old to participate and happily started coloring when they told me there was no age limit. I took a big, black crayon and colored my sheet of paper until the signature appeared. Then, I got to use rubber stamps and add pictures of animals and teepees. The other two interns just laughed, but I was really proud of my artwork!

We embarked on an expedition of our own when we started the hike up to the top of the pillar to see the signature. There were a lot of stairs and it was incredibly hot, but the views made it all worthwhile. At the top of the pillar, you could see for miles and miles; it seemed like the landscape never ended. I was really excited to finally see the signature and snap some photos of it. It was such an amazing feeling to actually be in the same place where Clark and his part of the expedition walked and see the same things they did. All in all, Clark Days satisfied the nerd in me and fulfilled my desire to explore some of the Lewis & Clark expedition out west.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What we've been up to- Rodeos, and Bull Riders!

Hi! Sami here- Since my time in Garryowen is sadly coming to a close soon, I thought I’d write something to update you guys on what we’ve been doing lately.

The 15th of July was my birthday (yay me!) so Chris let us take off from the museum early to go to the Rodeo. Our new intern joined us maybe a day or so before, and Kiley was getting ready to head back home to grad school, so it was a fantastic event to celebrate all of these things in one fell swoop.

The Rodeo was in Sheridan, Wyoming, and it’s an adorable little town. We got there a few minutes into the Indian relay races- which were really neat to see. The riders rode a horse bareback around the entire arena, stopped in the middle, jumped off that horse, and onto another one, before running around the arena again. It was really neat to see- and I can’t even imagine the amount of skill it takes to not only ride bareback at the speeds they were going, but to jump off one horse and directly onto another with rapidity. We also got to watch bull ropers, a few bucking broncos, and some very amazing ladies ride.

All in all it was a very good night.

More recently, Rob, Aimee and I managed to go to Billings to see the Professional Bull Riders when they came through town. Since it was on a Friday night and started at 8:00 with general admission, Chris was awesome and watched the museum so we could leave to get up there around seven- which turned out to be a really great idea. I don’t know what I’d been expecting when we were heading up there- but once we made it through the ticket area (and got free flashlights!) we walked around the outer circle of the arena. There were so many vendors! Lots of raffles to sign up for, and free stuff promoting all of these western companies… it was pretty interesting to me.

Bull riders only ride for 8 seconds at a time, but a lot of the riders when we were they didn’t manage to hold on for the full 8. Watching it, it always seemed like a lot longer from when they left that gate to when they either fell off or the buzzer sounded. Of course, it must’ve been all that much crazier for those poor guys actually on the bulls!

Follow the road to glory....

Follow the road to glory....

The View From the Outside Looking In

The View From the Outside Looking In

All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses

The First Visit to LBH NM

The First Visit to  LBH NM

Battle Recreation Table

Battle Recreation Table

Ghost Dance Shirt

Ghost Dance Shirt

LBH Miniatures

LBH Miniatures
a close-up of the battle recreation

Custer's Cravat

Custer's Cravat
Somebody loves the cravat

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark
A bear, a 400-year-old canoe and a ram head, with one thing in common

Justin and his gun

Justin and his gun
he is waaaay too excited about holding this gun

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