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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Chief Magpie, 1930, at park overlook
Chief Magpie, at the reburial of unknown Indian remains at the park overlook, 1930 Photo courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

Created on November 12, 1996, the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site recognizes the importance of the Battle of Washita as a nationally significant element of frontier military history and as a symbol of the struggles of the Southern Great Plains tribes to maintain control of their traditional areas. It also establishes a partnership among the National Park Service, the State of Oklahoma, private landowners, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

The Battle of Washita, which took place on November 27, 1868, was one of the largest engagements between the Plains Indians and the United States Army on the Southern Great Plains. Lt. Colonel George A. Custer, leading the 7th United States Calvary, attacked the sleeping Cheyenne Village of Chief Black Kettle at dawn. Chief Magpie was a young teenager in Chief Black Kettle's village, and was attacked by a lone trooper. Magpie shot the trooper and took his horse, then rode off to safety. He fought Custer again at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Custer's attack resulted in about 150 Indian casualties, many of them women and children.

The park includes the attack site, uplands, riparian area, railroad grade, and farmstead remains. The 300-acre park is located in Roger Mills County in western Oklahoma.

Originally submitted by: Frank D. Lucas, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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