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Dec. 25, 1877

Readers of the Butte Miner wake up to a Christmas Day report that gives a glimpse of Sitting Bull’s version of the Battle of the Little Bighorn 18 months earlier.

Martin Marty of Indiana, a Benedictine abbot who has lived with the Sioux and speaks their language, followed Sitting Bull and his people into Canada after the battle. He stayed in the camp for eight days last spring, and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat has now passed on his report of the visit.

The American accounts of the battle are all wrong, the Hunkpapa chief claims. The Indians had 11 days warning that the soldiers were coming. Lt. George Custer’s Seventh Cavalrymen were too tired to fight, the horses broken down by hard travel and no food. The soldiers “had been so long in the saddle that they were overcome by sleep,” Sitting Bull said.

There were not the massive numbers of Indians involved in the fight as most reports had it, but they still outnumbered Custer’s men six to one. The annihilation was over in a few minutes.

“Our powder was scarce, and we killed the soldiers with our war clubs,” the chief told Marty. “The soldiers … were killed so quick they did not have time to fight us.”

Sitting Bull said the Sioux did not recognize Custer in the fight, and they did not know him to call him “Long Hair.”

Dec. 20, 1913

It’s midnight and time to eat at a Saturday night dance in Superior. Mrs. Charles Olson of the Riverside Restaurant furnishes the spread of delectables.

A good-sized crowd from Superior and Iron Mountain has gathered at Red Men’s Hall to celebrate the completion of the fine new bridge across the Missoula River. It’s the last Christmas season the town will be part of Missoula County, and commissioners McQuarrie, Flynn and Nelson are honored guests, as is contactor Davis Graham and his wife.

Arthur Phillip Johnston, Jack Johnson and the Yager Show Company are providing the music. Johnston, better known as “A.P.,” is the father of Superior. His Big Day placer claim defined the boundaries of the town, and his store at the corner of River Street and Mullan Road was the area’s first. Johnston is in the forefront of a move to carve out a chunk of western Missoula County to form Mineral County, a move that will bear fruit in 1914.

Dec. 24, 1913

The Good Fellowship club in Missoula, organized at the suggestion of Attorney H.H. Parsons, throws a “Christmas Tree entertainment” for kids at the Elks’ Temple on East Front Street.

More than 500 children attend, beckoned by a special invitation issued just last night.

The invitation requested that “every boy and girl in Missoula and vicinity” come to the celebration from 4 to 6 p.m., “no matter what his other Christmas plans or prospects may be.”

“If any children live too far out to walk and have no way to come, we will send for them,” the invitation promises. “We have several automobiles waiting at our beck and call all day and will be glad to go after the children and take them home again.”

Just call “383 Bell” for a ride. A partial list of presents and toys waiting on and under the giant Christmas tree includes 80 doll buggies; 80 pairs of skates; 100 dolls; scores of warm winter caps, sweaters, and mittens; 40 coaster sleds; 250 pounds of candy, a barrel of nuts and small trinkets, and “100 of the finest jackknives a boy ever saw.”

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

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