Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

There’s a Lot to Enjoy Early on a Beautiful Morning

Monday August 9, 2014
Red cloud Campground
Fort Robinson State Park





I was up with the sunrise this morning and walked over to the Crazy Horse site to see the stone in the daylight and pay my last respects. It was a beautiful quiet morning.  I was the only person around and the stillness as the sun came over the buttes was very moving.  The flowers put by someone else were a little less bright hours after picking but the grasses and sage looked lovely I thought. 

If you have not read my last post about the Fort’s part in the Cheyenne Outbreak and Custer’s Death, you can find it here.  I must admit that I was very surprised at the lack of response to that post.  It was probably the hardest I’ve ever done and one of the most personal.  I knew almost nothing, before coming here, about this important part of our Nation’s past and what I learned was very powerful at least for me.







As I walked back Winnona looked perfect in front of the buttes and the pink sky.  I took this picture zoomed up from a distance as I came toward her.  From the patio, the view of the buttes shows more clearly how far they are from her.




David was up and we took Ruby out on the road to see if we could find any of the wildlife and semi-wildlife out doing some cool of the morning grazing.

We were in luck with both.  The park has a small herd of Long Horn cattle as part of its history as a USDA research site.   They looked great in the tall grass.  There were horses grazing near them as well as pronghorn.











We drove on along the park road following the route of the Cheyenne who escaped from the fort on January 9, 1879. Two historical markers along the way tell the story.  The first is an excellent summary of the Outbreak




The second is about the fighting in the buttes and tells us they climbed the buttes to the south of the fort and fled through this area pursued by cavalrymen. Soldiers and Cheyennes fought sharp engagements west of here on January 11 and 13.  I think about how cold it must have been, how much snow there might have been.  The pursuit continued to near the Wyoming border until the Cheyenne turned northeast.  On January 22 the survivors reached Antelope Creek.  In a final charge by the soldiers, the last thirty-two Cheyenne were killed or captured.






On a cheerier note, further down the road we come across this picturesque windmill.  We have seen many of these located in Nebraska as we have driven through.  We aren’t sure if they are abandoned or still in use perhaps to fill stock tanks or ponds.







On another bright note, we also found a tribute to the Boy Scouts who replanted 350,000 trees to reforest the pine ridge areas of Fort Robinson State Park after a devastating lightning fire on July 8 of 1989 burned 48,000 acres.   You would never know now that there had been a fire.  The pines those boys planted are big trees and we read that many of the “boys” have returned over the 25 years to see the glory of their efforts.

Notice how tall the vegetation is and rich with grasses, trees and wildflowers.


















Morning is definitely the time for wildlife.  As we return to the fort, off to our left we see a herd of pronghorn and a herd of bison graving.













A short way further down the road a bit further in the distance we see more bison and what we initially think are more pronghorn although they don’t look quite right.  Closer inspection proves this to be a pack of burros busily grazing away.   How we love burros!  Fred and Ginger’s family.  What a wonderful morning surprise!!



They look like buddies the bison and the burros.




We head back to the 1909 Barracks for some breakfast chow.  There are lots of interesting pictures and other artifacts hanging on the wall including this bison made of buffalo head nickels.  Even the border around the dining room walls is interesting.

It’s a mighty hardy breakfast they provide.


















Before returning to Winnona to pack up and leave Fort Robinson we stop by the Nebraska History Museum and Landmark bookstore.  It’s one of the best bookstores I’ve been in and I was so busy looking at all the books and trying to cut down the number I wanted to buy that I forgot to take a picture of the inside of the store. 

The building is the original Post Headquarters.  It has the two teepees  on the parade grounds side as well as the monuments to Lt Robinson and Crazy Horse.  The street side is the entrance to the bookstore and museum.





In the museum we find wonderful artifacts of the Native Americans and the history of the fort in artifacts and pictures.  The bead work is beautiful.  There are photographs of the Red Cloud Agency.  It puts a face on the place we visited last night.   There is also a photograph of the 9th Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers.














The museum is on two floors of the post building and is very complete.  This is such a small sampling of what you can see.  I have not included any of the information or artifacts about the fort over the years.  For those interested in military history this is an excellent place to visit.


One of the most powerful things about the museum was at the very beginning and I did not take a picture of the semi dark hallway lined with pictures at the end of which in the bright light was the Native headdress seen above.  I am very sorry for that.  The curator of the museum deserves an accolade for this placement.

One of the most difficult problems about doing a post on a place I have left is that I sometimes find a picture I did not take that I wish I had.  If I were still there I would absolutely go back for this picture.

If you have been following along on our summer escapades you may remember that in one post on the Native American Pow Wow at Red Cliff in Wisconsin I did a number of close ups of the dancers and other tribal members.  Many comments said they really enjoyed those pictures so I’ll close this post with the faces seen in this hallway on my way into the museum.  In most of these photographs the person’s name is on the bottom of the picture.  These are the faces of the people to whom the events at Fort Robinson happened.













Check in time at the Red Tail campground was 4:00 and check out is 2:00 so we have been able to spend the entire morning here because our drive for today is only another 80 miles south to Scott’s Bluff National Monument.


  1. I love how you make the most of your time at these parks, and share their stories with us. Just about all the Native American stories that interact with our ancestors are sad and embarrassing. Looks like a very thorough little museum.

  2. Your posts on this subject were excellent! I knew there were atrocities, but had no idea that the Native Americans were treated so badly. So very shameful. :-(

    I have been in Nebraska only once, and that was in February of 1964, with a four-month old baby. Sadly the only thing I saw there, apart from the inside of my in-law's house, was a hockey game at a local arena. And I slept through that! I missed so much history - sad history.

  3. Beautiful Sunrise- Your posts on this have been very good. It is a hard chapter in our history to reckon with- one of several.

  4. If you travel to Nebraska City, there is a windmill museum that is very interesting. I'll bet the one in the photo is an Eli.

  5. Early morning is the best... Just very glad that not everyone likes them ;o))

    It is quite obviously that these last few post were difficult for you to write, but extremely well done. So much history that we just never learned about. Sad, but true and that can be difficult to understand. The photos of the faces make it very real.

  6. I have to admit I haven't read your last post yet. I've been busy and gotten behind, but I'll do it now. This was a very well done post and the pictures of the people really bring it home. These people were treated so badly, but they don't seem to harbor any ill will towards us. Coincidentally, we recently met two different men here at our Rv park that are Native American. One of them had family in South Dakota and the other Tennessee. We haven't gotten to know them well enough to hear much of their stories, but maybe someday.

  7. I am so enjoying your recent posts! They remind me of a place that we explored all too briefly and hope to return to some day. There is so much to learn!

  8. It surprises me that you did not know the sorry history of our dealings with the native peoples. It seems I have know it all my life, and always find visiting these places very sobering and moving. Have you read "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"?

    1. Oh yes Judy I have read that and many more. Somehow I didn't specifically place Fort Robinson with the death of Crazy Horse and the Cheyenne uprising. So I was surprised when I arrived. I too was very moved and am disappointed that over 160 people read the previous post and did not comment at all.

  9. The animal energy there must be incredible - with the fort's history of horses, dogs and cattle, plus the wildlife in abundance - it has to be healing for a land that saw too much sadness. Thank you for the picture of Red Cloud :-). That is quite the breakfast they put out at the barracks - happy David!!

    I love the portraits. While stoic and powerful warriors, there is also a sense of wonder in the eyes of some. I will remember them.

    1. The photos taken during that time, all people were stoic looking. The reason was not what we would think, but that they could not hold a smile as long as it took for the very slow shutter speed. So said my grandfather who was a professional photographer in the late 1800's and very early 1900's.

  10. That certainly was a hearty breakfast, wow! Glad that you have the ability to get up early enough for the sunrise to share with all of us. Even better to pay tribute to Crazy Horse!

  11. another great post. . .you know I loved all the art, especially the buffalo made from buffalo nickels. . .awesome!

  12. The first picture of the longhorn cattle is stunning- the colors are so rich- I just love it! The sunrise is lovely.Love the picture of you in the flowers. Burros! I adore burros and had such a good time taking pictures of them- there are 4 that live a couple houses down from.Kate's house. I wonder how the Native Americans chose names. Dull Knife doesn't sound very complimentary. Normally I would think that artwork made from coins is tacky but the buffalo made of nickels is pretty cool. Dove Eye is beautiful- look at those cheekbones!

  13. Love the picture of you in the sunflowers! Had gotten behind in reading and now two incredibly deep posts in a row. Almost too much to fathom although I did know the story of Crazy Horse. We've never been in either of the Dakotas, but our trip across southern Nebraska a few years ago taught us much about the harsh conditions and difficult lives that are so much a part of our history. Now I just want to know and see more.

  14. Burros!! And other wildlife - that certainly made for a good day :) I can imagine the struggle of fighting there in winter around the stately buttes. What a history - it would be somewhat forgotten without the museums such as that one. I do enjoy the face shots; seeing those whose heritage that is. Sometimes it's difficult to know what to say in light of such a history full of discrimination and challenge. Those pictures show their strength.

  15. Great post! I am really interested in western history and a lot of our travels the first few years centered on that. I must have missed the last one and going to that next:)

  16. Traveling though out this area of the country one comes across so many sad stories of the Native American's. What a terrible struggle with devastating results usually.

    Glad you were able to find some wildlife on your last day. There are so many wild burros around.

  17. It's hard to wrap your head around the horrible tragedies of war that occurred on such beautiful landscapes.

  18. Those faces...
    And, the beauty of the land and animals. I LOVE the longhorn cattle! AND, I LOVE those beaded moccasins!!
    Oh, and the prickly poppy - crinkly paper...
    Really lovely photos and such wonderful documentation of so much of your travels and that you're sharing with us - Thank you!!

  19. well, I did not comment as there is really nothing to say, I have read extensively about what happened, including "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee". It was a shameful part of America's history.... we never kept our promises, they were treated as nothing....

  20. I missed the burros, darn it! While I was there a group of equestrians were there, too. Instead of cowboy hats, they were wearing flat topped hats. Except for the heat, I enjoyed my stay. I couldn't get into the museums because of Jack, but just seeing all the buildings at the center of the park was amazing to me--especially since they were all occupied.

    The plight of Native Americans truly was the most shameful part of our history, in my opinion. I share your passion. Did you hear the coyotes at night. They sounded like they were right outside of my trailer.

  21. The Native American portraits are so powerful -- they remind me of the fabulous work of Edward Curtis.

  22. I'm a little embarassed to admit that until the last few years I had no interest in Native American history whatsoever, and me with Cherokee ancestry. Now every place I go I try to learn a little about the REAL natives and history of the area...I blame textbooks for my previous lack of interest. They suck the real drama and interesting parts of history dry and leave behind nothing but dates and names.

  23. Ive learned a lot from your post about the Native Americans, and thank you for sharing and enlightening me. Because of the western movies I used to watched when I was young in the Philippines, I have a very different perception of them.
    Another wow on your wildlife sightings, amazing animals!


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