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What is the Crow Reservation?

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  • Written By: Andre Zollars
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Images By: Jeffrey Banke, n/a, Wong Sze Fei, Jim Parkin
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Located in south-central Montana, the Crow Reservation is home for about 75 percent of the Native American tribe's 10,000 members. A coal mine located on the reservation provides employment for many of the tribal members. While a good deal of farm acreage and grazing land is located on the Crow Reservation, the tribe only operates a small portion of it where they still maintain a herd of American Bison. Chief Plenty Coups, the final traditional Crow chief, decreed upon his death in 1932 that all his land, as well as his home, should serve as a sanctuary for his people, which is now called the Crow Reservation.

Chief Plenty Coups State Park is where Chief Plenty Coups was laid to rest. The park includes his gravesite, as well as a museum that features Crow artifacts and tribal history. There also is a traditional Native American sweat lodge and picnic area on site. Little Big Horn College is located on the Crow Reservation and offers associate degrees in eight different fields. It offers tours, as well as presentations to visitors.

In 1876, the Sioux and Cheyenne defeated the United States (US) Army's Seventh Cavalry in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The battlefield is located on the Crow Reservation and is commemorated with the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. An interpretive center, a museum, and guided tours give a comprehensive overview of the history of the battle and its outcome.

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The Bighorn River, a blue-ribbon trout fishery, flows through the Crow Reservation. Camping on the reservation is permitted for seven days only. Toilets, a boat launch, and parking areas for camping trailers are available along the Bighorn River near St. Xavier. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and Yellowtail Dam, located at Fort Smith, also offer boating, fishing, and camping. Visitor centers are located at both the dam and Fort Smith that provide historical information about the area and the dam.

Every August, the Crow Fair and Rodeo draws one of the largest gatherings for the Crow Nation. With more than 1,500 teepees on average, it is considered the largest modern day Native American encampment in the US. Chief Plenty Coups Day of Honor celebrates the Crow culture and features music, dancing, graveside visits, and a bison feast. The annual celebration generally is open to all people, which is held in remembrance of the great Crow chief.

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