You’ll be encouraged and enlightened at one of these Badlands Cemeteries. On Memorial Day, honor and respect veterans and families here.
Step back 140 years in time, and walk this graveyard hill. Families in the region honor their families buried here at this cemetery since 1881.
The scenic vantage point overlooks the Chateau, the Little Missouri River, the Badlands, the National Park and the tourist town of Medora.
You won’t find some of the more interesting legends buried here. That’s because many of the oldest graves, going back to about 1881, are unmarked and unknown.
However, each burial site marks legends and stories that may or may not be true. That includes one of the first men memorialized here. He was shot in a gunfight even before there was a town called “Medora.” They say William S. Livingston was buried here on July 17, 1881, but his remains are unknown and unmarked. Rolf Sletten includes several of the mysteries of the cemetery in either his book about Medora and his book about Roosevelt in Medora.
Apart for the romantic history, several very important and poignant memorials mark the loss of children and adults in the last century. In some cases, just the memorial sits here; the bodies are somewhere else.
In other cases, pioneers families who helped settle the Dakota Territory and the Montana Territory remain here. Veterans from many modern conflicts and wars lay here, too and are properly remembered on Memorial Day. Billings County honors veterans in town at the memorial next to the Museum.
Fort Buford Cemetery
Life was more difficult at Fort Buford than at most military outpost in the 1800s. Men here suffered in isolation far from civilization. They battled disease, weather, natives and each other. They carried the hurts and grudges of the war between the states. They faced many reasons to die.
The cemetery holds more than one sad story of murder and suicide at the fort, including this one.
As miserable as it was here, Fort Buford played an important role in bringing to an end, a long and bloody war.
So, the nation honored soldiers who were buried here years later. In official ceremony, the U.S. disinterred and removed the graves to the national cemetery at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. As far as it is known, the graves marked by civilian headstones still contain the bodies of those buried here. They say, the ghosts are here, too.
Reconstructed wooden headboards mark the graves where soldiers were once buried. Some of their stories, carved in to headstones are remarkable.
Old Scouts Veterans Cemetery
Hidatsa and Arikara joined the U.S. Cavalry to fight their common enemy, the Sioux nation. Skilled men became the first Indian Scouts and are still serving in that capacity. Their story is rich in military history, going back to Little Big Horn. They are among those who served honorably with General Custer and served as heroes in the battle.
The traditional warrior identification remains strong over the decades. And so, veterans from every military conflict are buried here.
The Old Scout Cemetery is an incredible memorial ground. It sits east of Garrison and White Shield on Highway 1804.
It holds a essential meaning for the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes. After all, they’ve been here much longer than the U.S. soldiers.
That is why you notice the difference when you approach and wander through the markers.
Honor and respect of ancestral heritage is a major part of daily life for the Hidatsa and Arikara. Visit the cemetery and find fresh tributes to their family ancestors year round here.
Many MHA Nation cemeteries mark that ancient history, including one south of Parshall.
Sadly, this one has been horribly marred. Yet you will still find it is an appropriate site to honor those who have gone on.
When you visit the Badlands and these important historic cemeteries, don’t forget your camera. Of course, snapshots are good, but who knows? You may get yourself an wonderful image to display for generations to come.
Our spring project this year is to visit, explore and share each of these places. We want to encourage you to treat yourself to good things. Get out into the social distancing that only the Badlands can provide. So, subscribe to be the first to now when a new article is posted. Plan your “staycations” and your visits to this unique area of the United States.
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