A pair of forensic scientists who’ve studied the 1876 clash on the shores of the Little Bighorn River in south central Montana delivered a special lecture on the MTSU campus Thursday, March 27, with archaeological evidence that tells a more complete story.
Drs. Douglas D. Scott and P. Willey delivered the MTSU’s William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship, “Bullets and Bones from the Battle of the Little Bighorn,” in the Tennessee Room of MTSU’s James Union Building.
MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, or FIRE, sponsored Scott and Willey’s free public lecture. The Bass Lecture Series, named for renowned University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass, brings respected forensic-science experts to campus each fall and spring.
Scott and Willey explained how the archaeological evidence at the Little Bighorn site, where Gen. George Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment was soundly defeated by the warriors of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, reveals the weapons used and equipment carried and the locations where the men fought and died. Their bones have helped the investigators understand their true ages, heights and illnesses and how they died.
Scott, a forensic archaeologist often called “battlefield archaeology’s founding father,” is an adjunct professor with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Willey, a physical anthropologist who specializes in human skeletal remains and historical medical anthropology, is a professor at California State University-Chico. Before joining that faculty, he curated the Bass skeletal collection at the University of Tennessee.