Veteran’s Day made us think about all of the battlefields that are part of the National Park Service. You may be familiar with many of them, ones that commemorate aspects of the United State’s history like the American Revolution or the Civil War, honoring the memory of those who sacrificed their life on these hallowed grounds.
But similar to Big Hole National Battlefield in Montana, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Oklahoma represents another chapter in US history, exemplifying the conflict between the US government and the Indians, and the clash of cultures that escalated as people migrated westward on to Indian lands.
Washita was just one battle in an ongoing fight for territory, this one near the end of “The Great Plains Wars” that raged from the 1850’s to the 1870’s. It was here that on November 27, 1868 – over 150 years ago – Lt. Col. George Custer attacked a sleeping Cheyenne camp.
The visitor center at Washita Battlefield brings this history to life with a movie, educational displays and ranger talks. The building looks over the Washita valley and provides an overview of the battle site. You can also follow a one and a half mile self guided trail that takes you out on to the plains.
Just like other battlefields, this is a sacred place that preserves history for future generations, allowing us reflect on and hopefully learn from our past.
If you are driving along the Interstate 40 between Amarillo, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it is worth taking the 22 mile detour north to visit Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.