A ceremony was held this weekend at Ft. Lincoln State Park south of Mandan, marking the 30th anniversary of the opening of the restored Custer House.
That’s where 7th Cavalry commander Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his wife stayed after he was assigned to Ft. Abraham Lincoln – and before he was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, near modern-day Hardin, Montana.
"The true test to the success of the Custer House vision is that even though 30 years have passed, visitors from around the globe still visit this small but dynamic part of North Dakota's heritage," said North Dakota Parks and Recreation director Melissa Baker.
The state park has also restored the On-A-Slant village – and is working to tell all sides of the story of Custer and his mission to further the doctrine of manifest destiny, meaning forcibly taking land that Native Americans claimed as their own.
Gerard Baker is the former assistant director of the National Park Service, and is an enrolled Hidatsa tribal member. Baker said to Native Americans, Custer remains a controversial figure – but he welcomes the renewed emphasis on telling all sides of the Custer story.
"There are some old-timers, obviously, who are very upset by what happened to the Indian people, due to that time, and to what Custer did," Baker said in an interview. "But it's history, and as long as we know that, we never want history to repeat itself."
The doors of the restored Custer House opened during North Dakota’s Centennial year, 1989.