It’s been 150 years since the infamous Battle of the Washita. The historic site is just west of Cheyenne, Okla. The site now sports a visitor’s center and is surrounded by the serene Black Kettle National Grassland.
The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) are both hosting symposiums in commemoration of the event.
On Nov. 27, 1868 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th Calvary in an attack of a village of sleeping Cheyenne. An estimated 60 natives were killed along the banks of the Washita River that fateful morning including Chief Black Kettle and his wife.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, SWOSU will be dedicating the recently remodeled Mann Hall in honor of Dr. Henrietta Mann. Mann is the former president of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal College. She has been a lifelong proponent of Native American education. The dedication will be at 1 p.m.
After the dedication Mann will speak at SWOSU’s symposium at 2 p.m. in the Stafford Center on the Weatherford campus. Other speakers will be Superintendent of the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site Tucker Blythe and Oklahoma Poet Laureate Nominee Dorothy Alexander. Associate Professor Dr. Kodumthara will lead a Q&A session regarding the cultural significance, history, and perspectives of the battle.
At 5 p.m. a dinner will be held with opening comments by Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana and SWOSU President Randy Beutler. OHS Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn will then be the feature speaker.
The Oklahoma Historical Society is holding a symposium with several keynote speakers and a plated lunch on Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Oklahoma History Center is on 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City Northeast of the state capitol off 23rd and Lincoln Blvd.
Dr. Paul Hutton will talk on how the attack was a turning point in the American West.
Horton is a professor of history at the University of New Mexico, past president of Western Writers of America and former executive director of the Western History Association. He has made several appearances on the History Channel, Discovery, PBS and more.
Dr. Donald Fixico will be speaking on the meaning of the Washita battle for the Native American community.
Fixico has published several books including Indian Treaties in the United States: An Encyclopedia and Documents Collection, Indian Resilience and Rebuilding: Indigenous Nations in the Modern American West and The American Indian Mind in a Linear World: American Indian Studies and Traditional Knowledge.
Blackburn, Washita Battlefield Superintendent Sarah Craighead and Congressman Frank Lucas will be reflecting on the National Park Service’s part in the battlefield today.
For more information about the SWOSU symposium call 580-774-3063 or purchase tickets online at SWOSUSymposium.com.
To purchase tickets or more information about the OHS symposium call 405-522-0765.
To visit the Washita Battlefield National Site in Cheyenne Okla. or for more information call 580-497-2742 or visit nps.gov/waba.