Monday, October 3, 2005 Big Sky Briefs

Descendent of Reno’s Command Tours Custer Battlefield Museum

GARRYOWEN , MT   -- Last week, the historic town of Garryowen was honored with a visit by Forrest Girard, an enrolled member of the Blackfoot tribe, and his lifelong friend Stan Stephens, an enrolled Crow Tribal member. Mr. Girard is the grandson of Frederick F. Girard, who served under General Custer as Reno ’s interpreter at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

“The Custer Battlefield Museum has fantastic exhibits,” Mr. Girard noted, after enjoying lunch and receiving a personalized tour of the complex and grounds by Museum Director Chris Kortlander. Both Mr. Stephens and Mr. Girard were notably impressed with the exceptional collection of artifacts and ephemera housed in the Museum. “Garryowen is a must-see for locals and visitors, alike,” added Mr. Stephens. “I’ve lived here my whole life, and like many nearby residents, I never took the time to visit this wonderful museum. I’m so glad I came, today.”

 Forrest Girard (left) and  Stan Stephens (right)
for a picture with Chris Kortlander, director of the Custer Battlefield Museum.

Mr. Girard’s grandfather, Frederick F. Girard, served as post interpreter at Fort Abraham Lincoln for Arikara and Sioux scouts from 1872 to 1883, and was hired by order of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer as interpreter for the 7th Cavalry in 1876. In a letter to his children dated July 6, 1876 , immediately following the fight at the Little Big Horn, he wrote:

“You will no doubt see by the papers that Gen. Custer’s command had a fight with the Indians on the Little Big Horn, where Gen. Custer and 12 officers and nigh on to 300 men were killed. During the fight, I with 3 others became separated & hid in the brush for 2 days & one night, and had a narrow escape from drowning. I escaped through the grace of God. If I ever return to [Fort] Lincoln I shall never go out again with an expedition. I lost many good & true friends.”

“We are truly privileged to welcome descendents from both sides of the Battle ,” said Kortlander. “It’s easy to forget that this battle occurred only a few generations ago, and it’s not unusual for a descendent to come to our Museum to do research on their ancestry. It is always a privilege to welcome descendents from the Battle to Garryowen.”

Mr. Forrest, now 80 years old, makes his home in Albuquerque , New Mexico , and is in Montana visiting Mr. Stephens of Prior, Montana . Both gentlemen made the trek to Garryowen to visit the Museum and see the place where the Battle began.

Article Courtesy of the Big Sky Briefs