CROW AGENCY - Just across Highway 212 from the entrance of the Little Bighorn Battlefield sits a charming cafe and trading post where many stop to shop and eat.
The Custer Battlefield Trading Post is a popular spot for tourists, especially during the peak summer months when the battlefield draws in thousands from around the United States and the cafe serves hundreds of people daily.
“I would venture to say that this battlefield is about as famous as any battlefield in the world,” said Putt Thompson, owner of the trading post.
Putt and Jill Thompson first moved to Wyola in the 1970s and Putt began work as one of the first bus tour guides at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Quickly realizing how many people come to the area, he and Jill decided to open a trading post and cafe and started building it in 1987.
“We’ve always said that this is the baby that never grows up,” Jill said while laughing.
The Thompsons have created a space filled with the history of the area, home-cooked food, and handmade work.
In the gift shop, customers can find everything from tourist T-shirts and trinkets to handmade beadwork and smoked hides. The Thompsons buy and commission items made by local beaders to sell in their store.
“Our store supports a lot of families around here,” Jill said. “I think the most rewarding is seeing the change we can make in our employees' lives.”
The trading post is also home to fresh meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. One of their most popular dishes is an Indian Taco, one that even Oprah has written about.
“We were the great food find in the state of Montana for our Indian taco,” Jill said. “And we still have people stopping by that say, 'Is this the place in Oprah's magazine that said to come and eat an Indian taco?'”
One of Putt and Jill's favorite parts of running the place is the amount of people traveling to the area that they get to meet. While MTN News was at the trading post, a couple from Atlanta, Georgia stopped in to get breakfast.
Malcolm Brice and his wife had a wedding in Fargo, North Dakota, and wanted to stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. They were recommended to go to the trading post and said they were very pleased with the experience.
“Probably the best (breakfast) of the trip so far. Awesome for these guys here and Putts just a walking book of knowledge,” Brice said.