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NYSNYS NEWS: SUNY ESC offering online course on Custer's Last Stand from perspective of Indian victors.
Indian dress: Indian tradition holds this dress was made with fabric from the uniforms of U.S. troops killed in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. The dress is seen today, left, and in an old news clipping at right -- NYSNYS News photo.

NYSNYS NEWS: SUNY ESC offering online course on Custer's Last Stand from perspective of Indian victors.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 14) -- Tied to the anniversary of Custer's Last Stand this month, SUNY Empire State College said Tuesday professors are teaching a course on the Battle of Little Big Horn from the perspective of the Indian victors.

The course will include a live video connection to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on June 25, the 140th anniversary of perhaps the most famous battle in the Indian Wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The anniversary will also see the display of a Indian dress that Cheyenne Indian tradition holds was made from cloth taken from the uniforms of dead U.S. troops, though some experts doubt that is true. The dress is part of the collection of a Washington State museum and will be displayed at Little Bighorn in Montana this month.

Tuesday, ESC professor Rhianna Rogers said students will have a "a once in a life opportunity to see the creation of history right in front of them, either live or through video. So that is a really, really unique opportunity that many courses don't always offer -- actually being a part of the creation of history."

"We decided that this was the best way to accommodate because students from all over can participate," said professor Menoukha Case of ESC's Center for Distance Learning. "I have students from Tennessee, New York City, California."

Clifford Eaglefeathers, member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and SUNY adjunct, was also on hand at the College Tuesday to talk about his memories of the battlefield. He said the dress was made in the 19th century and was handed down through five generations. It was given to a Indian museum in Spokane, Washington in 1975 and is now in the collection of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

The Battle of Little Big Horn saw nearly 300 vastly outnumbered U.S. troops killed by Indian warriors. The troops were commanded by George Custer and the Indians were led by Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and three others.

Custer was buried along with other in shallow graves on the battlefield, but was exhumed a year later and was re-buried at West Point. The battlefield's mass grave is now a national cemetery.


SUNY course description: