Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The Slaughter at Wounded Knee by Ginger Simpson #wounded knee #history
Rumors flew through all the reservations in Dakota around September 1890, that in reprisal to the Ghost Dance, the government would take action. Of course, fear spread like wildfire, that the government would erase any future the Sioux had, so those 400 or so left of Sitting Bull's followers fled, seeking shelter and aide under Chief Big Foot at the Cheyenne River Reservation. Very few of the original number reached their destination because the remaining were intercepted and convinced to surrender to the authorities.
Those who made it safely to Chief Big Foot found themselves trapped by the Cavalry, who didn't move to attack until they received orders. The fear the Lakota felt now spread to Big Foot's people and during the night on December 23, 1890, around 350 total, including the Chief, left the village.
The soldiers, along with their small arms arsenal followed, and on December 28th, the renegades gave up and made camp at a place called Wounded Knee. When the army demanded the tribe surrender their weapons, the Indians refused and a scuffle ensued, What was a peaceful encampment turned into a nightmare.
The Indians stood firm, but since the combatants were not equally armed, they didn't stand a chance. The proverbial 'heat of battle' led many of the cavalry on a killing spree, cutting down defenseless women, the babes in their arms and old men, women and children as they tried to flee.
The death count: 25 soldiers (many killed by friendly fire.) 39 wounded.
at least 153 Indians died, but some claim as many as 300.
The military dead were buried with full honors, but a civilian crew was hired to dig a common grave and dump all the bodies of the deceased Indians into it.
Quoting one civilian worker: "It was a thing to melt the heart of a man, if it was of stone, to see those little children, with their bodies shot to pieces, thrown naked into the pit."
The massacre at Wounded Knee remains the day the Plains Indians' resistance ended, however, the slaughter serves as a symbol of how the whites treated those with red skin.
Note from Ginger: I have paraphrased this from my favorite research source, America's Fascinating Indian Heritage from Reader's Digest. How sad that we learned nothing from this experience.