54 miles E of Billings
The beautiful Crow Reservation -- the Crow People call themselves the Apsáalooke, "Children of the Large-Beaked Bird" -- encompasses over 9 million acres in southeastern Montana. It consists of seven main communities, of which Crow Agency, on I-90, is the hub of tribal management and government.
One of the main Indian Nation events of the summer-long powwow trail is Crow Fair, held here the third week in August. Powwows are social gatherings featuring traditional food, dress, and dances. Visitors are welcome at powwows, but flash photography is not allowed during contests, and you should always ask dancers for permission before taking their photographs. For more information, contact the Tribal Headquarters, P.O. Box 159, Crow Agency, MT 59022 (tel. 406/638-3700), or visit www.crow-fair.com.
The most famous historic site here is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, a somewhat ironic inclusion on this reservation. The Crow scouted for Custer, and the Little Bighorn is the site of the cavalry's most infamous defeat at the hands of the Indians.
A good place to learn about the Crow culture is at Chief Plenty Coups State Park (tel. 406/252-1289; www.fwp.mt.gov). The tribe's last traditional chief, Chief Plenty Coups, deeded his home and lands as a memorial to the Crow Nation, and the museum houses many of the Crow leader's personal items plus interpretive displays about the Crow people. From Billings, drive about 25 miles south on Montana highways 416 and 418 to Pryor, then go a mile west, following signs. There are picnic facilities but no overnight camping. The grounds are open May through September daily from 8am to 8pm, and the museum is open from 8am to 5pm (by appointment in the off season). Access to the grounds is free, but the museum's admission is $3 per adult, $2 for children 6 to 12, and free for kids 5 and under.