December 29 1890 - Wounded Knee

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RightHand, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    1890 U.S. Army massacres Sioux at Wounded Knee

    In the tragic final chapter of America's long war against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

    Tensions had been running high on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for months because of the growing popularity of a new Indian spiritual movement known as the Ghost Dance. Many of the Sioux at Pine Ridge had only recently been confined to reservations after long years of resistance, and they were deeply disheartened by the poor living conditions and deadening tedium of reservation life. The Ghost Dance movement taught that the Indians were defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional ways. If they practiced the Ghost Dance ritual and rejected white ways, many Sioux believed the gods would create the world anew, destroy the unbelievers, and bring back murdered Indians and the giant herds of bison.

    By late 1890, Pine Ridge Indian agent James McLaughlin was alarmed by the movement's increasing influence and its prediction that all non-believers--presumably including whites--would be wiped out. McLaughlin telegraphed a warning to Washington, D.C. that: "Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy. We need protection now." While waiting for the cavalry to arrive, McLaughlin attempted to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who he mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dance supporter. U.S. authorities killed Sitting Bull during the arrest, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge rather than defusing them.

    On December 29, the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. Big Foot and his followers had no intentions of attacking anyone, but they were distrustful of the army and feared they would be attacked if they relinquished their guns. Nonetheless, the Sioux agreed to surrender and began turning over their guns. As that was happening, a scuffle broke out between an Indian and a soldier, and a shot was fired. Though no one is certain which side fired it, the ensuing melee was quick and brutal. Without arms and outnumbered, the Sioux were reduced to hand-to-hand fighting with knives, and they were cut down in a withering rain of bullets, many coming from the army's rapid-fire repeating Hotchkiss guns. By the time the soldiers withdrew, 146 Indians were dead (including 44 women and 18 children) and 51 wounded. The 7th Cavalry had 25 dead and 39 wounded.

    Although sometimes referred to as a battle, the conflict at Wounded Knee is best seen as a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it is highly unlikely that Big Foot's band would have deliberately sought a confrontation. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of Custer's old 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment's defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the army's massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the final major confrontation in America's deadly war against the Plains Indians
  2. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    The treatment of the native people of this country is a dark and shameful stain on the history of this nation. And the mistreatment of these people is much more recent than most people realize. My wife and I are both members of the Choctaw tribe.My Grandmother told stories of being beaten for daring to speak her native language in the BIA government school that she attended. My wife's Grandmother had scars on her back from being horsewhipped for daring to dance with a white boy at a community dance.This within the last 50 years.
    But most tribes have shown the intense pride and self sufficiency that made them such a formidable force to overcome. The Choctaw nation of Oklahoma is one of the wealthiest tribes in the nation.We just built a brand new, state of the art hospital, without one penny of federal assistance. All our members have complete and free health care.We have numerous programs to aid our elderly,our low income,our students, all of our members.
    So I have little tolerance for other minorities that whine and cry about how bad their ancestors were treated,and want government handouts and compensation.Get over it!!!
  3. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I know what you mean on things being more recent than most folks realize. I would have enouph indian blood to be on the rez if I wanted except that my family didnt go to the end of the trail of tears, they escaped and settled in MO and so never had roll numbers. Then they had to deny being indians since it wasnt untill my dad was in Jr High or high school that they repealed the law that made it not only legal to kill any indian found in MO but also offered a bounty from the state in addition to the fact that if you would kill an indian family you got everything they owned as a reward in addition to the bounty from the state. IIRC it was 1957 when they finaly repealed that law here.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Remember, the "winners" write the history.

    Those indians were slaughtered like cattle.
  5. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    My wife is Cherokee

    You want some good reads on early frontier White/Indian relations, Check out "The Frontiersman", by Eckart.

    Brutality on both sides but one was the oppressor and the other was the Defender... In todays terms, Native American would be dubbed Terrorists as they were "against them"

    Sad pages of history and sad that that way of living is almost gone. ;)
  6. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Well, after reading "Lights Out", I have to say that the distinct possibility of that time returning actually occurs in the hearts of some if not it being represented in real physical form. ;)

    Who knows? Maybe we will see the err of our ways before it is too late. Wishful thinking, I know....
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