And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

Tuesday, December 22, 1998
       Knife River ranger to be head
    interpreter at The Little Bighorn 

                  KEN ROGERS, Bismarck Tribune


STANTON -- The earth remembers the lodges of the Knife River Indian Villages
with round depressions in the grass on the high ground above the Missouri
For visitors to the historic site, Ken Woody remembers the ways and the
stories of
the Mandan and Hidatsa people who lived here.

A National Park Service ranger and interpreter, he has built bull boats,
buffalo hide, planted Indian corn, recorded the Mandan language and crafted
traditional Mandan and Hidatsa weapons, cloths and a cradle board.

Lewis and Clark author Steven Ambrose says Woody is "the best interpreter I
heard in a lifetime of listening."

Woody will leave Knife River after Christmas for a new job, head
interpreter at
the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument an hour east of Billings,
His wife and three children will be moving there before the new year.

"That's the place I want to go," says Woody, tall, well-built, with an open
face and
easy smile. "I've been here seven years, and it finally came true. The job

                   But it almost didn't. There's been a freeze in the
                   National Park Service, with rangers laid off on both
                   coasts getting the first crack at openings.

                   "No one was interested," Woody said. "I redid my
                   whole application. Sent it in. And waited. Then they
                   started calling my references."

                   Maybe what did it was the references, two former Little
                   Bighorn superintendents, Gerard Baker and Barbara
                   Booher, as well as Chas Cartwright, former Knife River
                   superintendent, now top man at Devils Tower.

                   Maybe it was Woody's knowledge of Plains Indians. His
                   grandfather, a Mohawk, worked in wild west shows in
                   the end of that era. "He worked with a lot of western
Indians," Woody says.

The older Woody would tell his grandson stories about Indians from the plains,
illustrated with headdress, bustles and parfleches he had obtained during
his wild
west show days.

"I was all bug-eyed," says Woody, who grew up in Pittsburgh and considers
Dakota the west.

Two years ago, Woody traveled to the Peabody Museum at Harvard. That's
where many of the artifacts collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition are
In an nearly unprecedented move, the Peabody curators allowed Woody to trace
designs from a Mandan buffalo robe that the explorers sent Jefferson before
left the Knife River for the Pacific in the spring of 1805.

Once back at Stanton, Woody brain-tanned a buffalo hide and then retraced the
design on to the robe. He also did the quill work. It now hangs in a large
case in the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Great Falls, Mont.

The artwork on the robe tells the story of a battle with the Mandan and
Hidatsa on
one side and the Arikara and Sioux on the other. It took place in the 1790s.

In preparation for work at the Little Bighorn, Wood says, "I've been doing
a crash
course in Custer, soldiers, soldiers' wives. I've visited Fort Lincoln,
gone through
the house, videotaped and had the rangers show me the equipment that the

"Even though I have a good tribal customs background, I've been reading more
about the Indian side of the story (Little Bighorn battle)," says Woody, who
acknowledges that the soldiers' part in the battle is very important.

"My goal is to tell a balanced story," he says.

Meanwhile, Woody is working with Larry Belitu, the man who constructed the
tepee displayed in the Heritage Center, on a book about buffalo hide tepees
how they were made.

Woody says the move from Knife River to the Bighorn is a move from a slow
park to a fast park, from 22,000 visitors a year to 400,000 visitors.

One of the high points of Woody's stay at Knife River reflects the respect he
earned from Indian people. One of the Mandan elders allowed Woody to see "but
not touch" the sacred Mandan turtle drums.

Woody said, "It was incredible to see the drums that (George) Catlin
painted ... the
Turtle drums used in the Okipa ceremony."

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