Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site recognizes the 147th Anniversary of the Fetterman Fight with the addition of the “Thunder Lake Singers” from Pine Ridge, S.D., and an appearance by Shannon Smith, author of “Give Me 80 Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight,” to this year’s annual tour of the battlefield.
The annual event, Dec. 21, begins at 9:30 a.m. at Fort Phil Kearny Interpretive Center, five miles off of exit 44, Interstate 90 and will include a tour of the battlefield, Native drum presentation, Native and soldier weapons demonstrations, and a book signing by Smith. Terry Richards, Oglala Lakota, and R.C. Wilson, retired Fort Phil Kearny superintendent will lead the tour.
“The tradition of visiting the battlefield on the anniversary of the fight is longstanding and I’m excited to offer some new components to the event,” says Superintendent Misty Stoll. “The Native narrative of the fort and the fight is most appropriately heard through an oral historian – and Richards knows his stuff. You can’t get this experience in books or signage.”
The fight occurred on December 21, 1866 between the United States 18th Infantry 2nd Cavalry Regiments and members of the Lakota (Sioux), Northern Cheyenne, and Northern Arapahoe Native American Nations. At that time, the battle marked the largest defeat of U.S. Forces in the Northern-Plains Territories.
Smith’s “Give Me Eighty Men” was a best seller in the Bozeman Trail Association Gift Shop during the 2013 visiting season. Many visitors to Fort Phil Kearny were familiar with the story that pins the blame for the December 21 disaster on Captain William J. Fetterman.
“This book has transformed the way we tell one of the foundational stories of Fort Phil Kearny. It’s been incredibly exciting to share this new perspective with our visitors,” Stoll said.
Following the tour, hot drinks and snacks will provided at the Interpretive Center with an opportunity for visitors to ask questions of the guides and view the museum. The complete program will take approximately four hours. Visitors are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather and expect wind at the battlefield.
Terry Richards and Thunder Lake Singers are made possible by the Wyoming Humanities Council. Site fees have been waived for all visitors for the anniversary tour.
Fort Phil Kearny State History Site is located at 528 Wagon Box Rd in Banner, Wyoming. For more information call (307) 684-7629.