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2016 Mari Sandoz Symposium, October 14, 2016

"Sandoz and Custer"

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, Mari Sandoz’s last book – published after her death in 1966 – was the theme of the 2016 Sandoz Symposium at the High Plains Heritage Center in Chadron.  Sandoz used her unique story‐telling skills to explore the mindset and experiences of George Armstrong Custer and his compatriots during the era of the Indian Wars.

Conference sessions addressed: Sandoz’s contribution to this well studied topic; the experiences of his family members; the worldviews of his Native American adversaries; the legacy of Custer from a multi‐ethnic standpoint. Kent Blansett from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, led a discussion of “Indian Wars 101: Mari Sandoz and the Fog of War.”  "Draft by Draft: The Battle of Sandoz & Her Big Horn Manuscript," was presented by Sandoz Board Member and Blansett’s wife, Elaine Nelson, also from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Sandoz Board Member Dan McGlynn of Omaha discussed the good Custer, "Tom Custer: In The Shadow of A Giant." A panel discussed “Teaching Custer” and looked at George Armstrong Custer, a familiar name and a controversial figure 150 years after his death. Custer is celebrated as an Indian fighter, decried as an ineffective commander, and villainized as a part of the colonial occupation of Native American lands. “Native Lens on the Battle of the Greasy Grass" was also discussed by a panel of experts with a unique perspective on what is also known as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.