Michael Donahue, local artist, historian and teacher, played an active role in the June dedication of an Indian memorial at the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana.
Donahue, a wellknown summer ranger at Little Bighorn where he has worked since the 1980s, has been part of the team building the Indian memorial for several years. He was there in 1988 when the Indians put up a protest piece, and for the past few summers has helped research and design new markers on the battlefield to help give visitors a clearer understanding of the complex battle scenario. He participated in the 125th anniversary program at the battlefield two years ago, and contributed to the dedication program and was photographer for this year's event.
Thousands of persons gathered for the official dedication of American's only national monument to the memory of courageous Indians who fought in the famous Battle of Little Bighorn. The memorial is on Last Stand Hill were Lt. Col. George A. Custer and his famous 7th Cavalry met disaster.
The dedication ceremony was the culmination of years of political controversy. Made a national monument in 1946, the site was known as the Custer Battlefield to the annoyance of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes who pointed out that their ancestors were the winners.
In 1991 President George Bush signed legislation changing the name to Little Bighorn Battlefield and approving an Indian memorial. On the battle's 127th anniversary the bronze wire sculpture "Spirit Warriors" was formally dedicated as part of a memorial to the Indians who fought in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Among the dignitaries attending the program were Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, and Montana Gov. Judy Martz, as well as tribal leaders, members of Congress and representatives of the National Park Service.
Donahue also presented a seminar, "Beyond Custer Hill," to the Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association at a meeting held in conjunction with the dedication ceremony. The paper, based on published and unpublished Indian testimony, maps and archeology, destroys some of the longheld ideas about Custer's quick demise on Custer Hill.
He also authored two articles in the 50th anniversary issue of Greasy Grass, the association's annual historical publication, which describe the 1876 journey of Col. John Gibbon to the hill where Custer died and the importance of the Little Bighorn River to that time in history. His painting, "Homage to Mark Kellogg," was the cover art for the magazine.
Donahue has spent more than 30 years reading and researching Custer's Last Stand. He currently is working on a book dealing with maps and the untold story of the Little Bighorn.