Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

John Douglas

Commitee Members

Richmond Clow, Kelly Dixon, Richard Sattler, Pei-Lin Yu


Bear Paw Battlefield, Big Hole National Battlefield, Interpretation and Commemoration Practices, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Memory Archaeology, Rosebud Battlefield State Park


University of Montana


Using a memory archaeology paradigm, this dissertation explored from 2010 to 2012 the ways people used place-based narratives to create and maintain the sacredness of four historic battlefields in Montana: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument; Nez Perce National Historical Park- Bear Paw Battlefield; Nez Perce National Historical Park- Big Hole National Battlefield; and Rosebud Battlefield State Park. This research implemented a mixed-methods approach of four data sources: historical research about on-site interpretation and land management of the battlefields; participant observations conducted during height of tourism season for each battlefield; 1,056 questionnaires administered to park visitors; and 32 semi-structured interviews with park personnel. Before formulating hypotheses to test, a preliminary literature review was conducted on three battlefields (Culloden, Fallen Timbers, and Isandlwana) for any observable patterns concerning the research domain. This dissertation tested two hypotheses to explain potential patterns at the four battlefields in Montana related to on-site interpretation of primary sources, the sacred perception of battlefields, and the maintenance and expression of place-based cultural heritages and historical knowledge. The first hypothesis examined whether park visitors and personnel perceived these American Indian battlefields as nationally significant or if other heritage values associated with the place-based interpretation of the sacred landscapes were more important. Although park visitors and personnel overall perceived the battlefields as nationally important, they also strongly expressed other heritage values. The second hypothesis examined whether battlefield visitors who made pilgrimages to attend or participate in official on-site commemorations had stronger place-based connections for cultural heritage or historical knowledge reasons than other visitors. Overall, these commemoration pilgrims had stronger connections to the battlefields than other park visitors. Closer comparisons of the four battlefields demonstrated that they had both similar patterns and unique aspects of why people maintained these landscapes as sacred places.



© Copyright 2013 Helen Alexandra Keremedjiev