Monday, May 28, 2012

Custer's Heart

So much has been written about the Battle of the Little Bighorn that it is nearly impossible to present new information. But here is a curious tidbit from the Helena Herald of 1890 noting a legend told by the Sioux Indians. As the only human survivors of the deadly encounter, the Herald noted, the Sioux alone can tell the true history of the infamous event. The Sioux claim that on the hill where Custer fell, a peculiar plant now grows. This plant had never been seen there before the battle and it is not known to grow anywhere else. It is a very odd plant with broad, flat leaves that curve like a sword. Its edges are sharp as a saber and will slice through the skin like a razor blade. Those who unknowingly pick this plant drop it right away as its leaves are strangely cold and clammy. The plant bears a beautiful golden blossom that is shaped exactly like a heart. In the center of the flower there is one small spot of brilliant red, like a drop of blood. The Indians regard this plant with awe. They call it Custer’s Heart and refuse to touch it. They claim that the blossom crushed in the hand leaves a blood red stain that is impossible to remove.

John H. Fouch snapped this first known photograph of the battlefield in 1877. He titled it "The place where Custer fell."
Image from Traveler's Guide to the Great Sioux War, courtesy James Brust
From Montana Moments: History on the Go

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