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Press Release - Whitestone Hill Commemoration Events Open to Public

Contact: August 20, 2012
Diane Rogness

Events Commemorating Key Anniversaries at Whitestone Hill State Historic Site Open to Public

KULM – A series of free public programs commemorating key anniversaries at the Whitestone Hill State Historic Site near Kulm, ND, will be featured Sunday, August 26 and Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

Events are sponsored by the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND) and the site’s friends group, the Whitestone Hill Historical Society.

On August 26 beginning at 2:30 p.m., the Larsen Brothers, Paul and Lowell, from Taylor, ND, will provide a performance of classical western music and gospel tunes. Paul and Lowell have been singing together for 50 years. They will be joined by guitarist John Lardenois.

Intermission will feature Walt Bailey. Walt will talk about the incidents leading up to the 1863 Whitestone Hill event. A grandson of North Dakota homesteaders and a graduate of the University of Montana Department of History, Bailey spent six years with the US National Park Service as a ranger-historian before becoming historic preservation planner for the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Walt currently serves as executive director of the Bismarck Historical Society. Walt has lectured on North Dakota, western and military history, has authored National Register of Historic Places nominations, has written articles for various magazines, and was a principle author of the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s popular book, A Traveler’s Companion to North Dakota State Historic Sites, which includes sections on the Sibley-Sully Campaign of 1863 and Whitestone Hill.

Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Admission cost for the program and concert is free. A picnic meal will be served after the concert for $10 per person, with children ages 6 and under free.

On Wednesday, August 29, the 12th annual Education Day will be held at the site, marking the 149th anniversary of the encounter at Whitestone Hill. Programs are targeted to fourth grade and upper elementary students and teacher groups from area schools, but the public is also invited to attend. School groups will rotate through demonstration areas throughout the day.

Visitors will be able to visit several stations from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 until 3 p.m. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch. Demonstration stations will include a replica tepee, a tepee raising, visits to historical monuments and markers, hide tanning, a description of Dakota winter counts, military campaign food, a mapping exercise, artist sketches, and the museum store.

On Aug. 29, SHSND will host an on-site “museum store” with items relevant to the history of Whitestone Hill Battlefield State Historic Site. Merchandise will be suitable for children, with a special emphasis on targeting fourth grade students.

Whitestone Hill State Historic Site preserves a site long used by native peoples, as well as the location of the fiercest clash between Indians and white soldiers east of the Missouri River in North Dakota. On September 3, 1863, Sixth Iowa and Second Nebraska Volunteer Cavalry troops under Brigadier General Alfred Sully attacked a camp of various bands of Dakota people, including Yanktonai, some Dakotas, Hunkpapa Lakotas, and Blackfeet (Sishasapa Lakota), who had gathered in a large encampment for an annual fall bison hunt. Sully’s attack was part of a military mission meant to punish participants in the US-Dakota War of 1862, which involved different bands of Dakota people than those gathered at Whitestone. Many Indian men, women, and children were killed or captured in Sully’s attack and some soldiers were killed. The army also destroyed virtually all of the Indian’s property and food, leaving them nearly destitute for the coming winter. The site commemorates both the Indian and the white participants.

The Whitestone Hill State Historic Site can be reached by traveling from Kulm south 12 miles on North Dakota State Highway 56, then east four miles on a gravel road, then north nearly two miles to the site. The site features a small museum, two monuments, an adjacent park and picnic and recreational facilities. The site is open through September 15.

For a calendar of 2012 state historic site programs, contact the State Historical Society at 701.328.2666, e-mail at, or visit

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