Cheyenne, OK

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site protects and interprets the setting along the Washita River where Lt. Col. George A. Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry on a surprise dawn attack against the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle on November 27, 1868. The attack was an important event in the tragic clash of cultures of the Indian Wars era.  The event was hailed at the time by the U.S. military and many civilians as an important victory aimed at reducing Indian raids on frontier settlements in Kansas. Washita remains controversial because the Cheyenne and Arapaho view Custer’s attack as a massacre instead of a battle.  Today, Chief Black Kettle is remembered and honored as a leader who never ceased striving for peace even though it ultimately cost him his life.

Peace Chief Black Kettle

Click here for the in-depth story of the Washita

The National Park Service offers educational opportunities for students and teachers to learn more about the events leading up to the conflict by a visit to the park.  many educators stop first at the park visitor center to walk through the museum exhibits, visit the book store and view the park film, Destiny at Dawn.

Additional options for students include a Discovery Challenge walk led by a park ranger along the Dust and Fire Trail.   This .4 mile walk (approximately 30 minutes) around the visitor center was created by the U.S. Forest Service and provides student’s opportunities to, “Discover how plants, animals, and people have survived the harsh conditions of the high plains.”  Among the stops are a dugout home, windmill, fire plot and the Native Garden.

Not to be missed is another ranger guided tour at the park overlook about ½ mile from the visitor center.  This 1.5 mile trail (approximately 1 hour) traverses the battle site.  There are 15 stops designed to give your students a better understanding of the happenings that took place on November 27, 1868.  

How to make a reservation for your school visit

1. Call the park at 580-497-2742 and speak to the Education Coordinator, Kathryn Harrison (ext. 3015), or any park ranger at least two weeks in advance to schedule your visit.

2. There is no charge for this visit and there is school bus parking at the visitor center.

3. For additional information and curriculum ideas, please visit the park’s website, www.nps.gov/waba.

 

Reservations are encouraged -  priority will be granted to reserved groups.

 

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

 

Garry Owen In Glory

Grades 1-4, 20-30 minutes

Examines the life of soldiers in the 7th    Cavalry during the 1860’s.  Students will have the chance to see pieces of military equipment and a uniform. A lesson plan demonstrates the diversity, duties, and daily life of the frontier army.

Through The Eyes Of History

Grades 4-8, 20-30 minutes  

Based on oral history and other first-hand accounts of the Washita. A lesson plan helps define the importance of using eyewitness stories, and helps outline the process of gathering and preserving primary sources.

The Boy General And The Old Man Chief

Grades 4-8, 20-30 minutes

The story of George Custer and Chief Black Kettle.  Examines the life, family and culture of each man.  A lesson plan will assist students in learning about the converging set of social, economic and political events that lead each man to the Washita Valley in 1868.

Grandson Of The Mississippi

Grades 4-8, 20-30 minutes

 Introduces students to the natural and cultural history of the Washita River. A lesson plan explores the Washita’s relationship to the regional system of creeks and rivers as well as to local geology.

Circles In The Snow

Grades 1-4, 20-30 minutes

Activities and a lesson plan introduce students to Cheyenne history and the story of several Cheyenne who were at the Washita in 1868. Students will also have the opportunity to see examples of traditional Cheyenne crafts.

Like A Creeping Panther

Grades 4-8, 20-30 minutes

 Explores the importance of frontier and Indian scouts in the U.S. Army, focusing on their dual roles as guides, trackers, and fighters.  A Lesson Plan will assist students in exploring the unique attributes and personalities of these men

A Time To Forgive

Grades 4-8, 20-30 minutes

Defines the processes of memorializing and  commemoration. Lesson plan applies these concepts to Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.

 

All The Pretty Horses

Grades 4-8,  20-30 minutes 

Looks at the importance of horses to participants at the Washita.  The program focuses on the destruction of the Indian horses, analyzing the reasons for the military order, and the dramatic effect this had on the Cheyenne. A lesson plan will be used to link the historic event with scientific research.

 

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer

Additional Teaching Materials

Earn Your Rank Home is Where the Heart Is
Match Me If You  Can The Unscramble Ramble

GUIDED TOURS – A GREAT WAY TO SEE THE WASHITA!

Guided tours last 45-50 minutes.  Tours start near the parking lot and follow a trail across approximately ¾ mile of the National Historic Site.    Subject matter can be fashioned to meet the needs of individual classes, and is flexible enough to address both the cultural and natural history of the site.  

Self-Guided Tours

Groups are always welcome at the site.  Self-guided tours are required to follow all safety guidelines, provide chaperones, and adhere to the same park regulations as ranger-led groups and other visitors.  Self-guided tours are asked to contact the part prior to arrival.  A member of the park staff will try to be on hand to provide orientation and assist with directions and other information.  Teachers can pick up a copy of the site brochure and purchase a Trail Guide at the Black Kettle Museum or at the park office.

MAY WE SUGGEST:

 

Black Kettle Museum

Operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society.  The Museum maintains an award-winning exhibit about the Battle of the Washita.  Also offers a wide range of literature about the Washita, the Plains Tribes of Oklahoma, and the U.S. Army.  Open early spring through late fall – please call 580-497-3929 for information or visit bkmus@history.mus.ok.us.

Cheyenne City Park and Pioneer Museum

Features the restored Roll One Room School.  1910 type of instruction, includes McGuffy Readers, in session weekdays 9:30 – 1:30; April-May, and mid-September-November.  The Museum has a large display of antiques and other collectibles beginning with the land run era of the 1890’s.  Memorabilia from ranches, businesses and families throughout Roger Mills and adjoining counties is also highlighted.  Open year round - please call 580-497-3318 for information. 

Cheyenne Heritage Trail

A western Oklahoma driving tour featuring 10 stops and 2 drive-by sites significant to Southern Cheyenne history.  Besides the Black Kettle Museum and Washita Battlefield, other local attractions featured include Clara’s Cottage and Coyote Hills Ranch.  Please call the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Dept. at 405-521-2409 for information or visit www.travelok.com

 

How To Make a Reservation  School groups are encouraged to notify the park before scheduling a visit.  A two-week or more notice is suggested for all education programs.

To make a reservation, contact the Park Education Technician at (580) 497-2742 ext. 4 

Please have the following information ready when you call: 

·         School name and mailing address

·         Your name and daytime telephone number.

·         Date and time of proposed visit

·         Type/Title of activity that you are      requesting (Program, Tour, Self-guided)

·         Number of students in your group

·         Special needs or other considerations

Reservations can also be made online through our website at: www.nps.gov/waba

Click on the “CONTACT” button and email your reservation to: WABA_Ranger_Activities@nps.gov  

Group Size: Programs are limited to a maximum of 75 students.

 Chaperones:  All students must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the park.  We recommend one adult per every 10 students.

 Confirmation:  Once your reservation has been approved, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail.

 How to Get There:    

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site is located approximately 2 miles west of Cheyenne, OK.  The site is accessible via Highway 47 and Highway 47A.

For more information, contact Craig Moore at (580) 497-2742.

Official Webpage of the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

Back to the Tours and Field Trips page!

Back to the Teacher's Page!