REMEMBERING THE STORIES
I am currently reading a book called "The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge" which is the true story of a century of Lakota Sioux life - an epic journal of cultural identity found, lost, and found again - told through the voices of a single family: the Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Many times over the years I've read about the massacre at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation on December 29, 1890. This book is taking me deeper into the story. Personal accounts give shocking reality to the events at Wounded Knee. In all 290 were slaughtered by the US Army's 7th Cavalry, which just 14 years earlier had been boldly defeated by Indians at the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn. The 7th Cavalry was heavily armed that day at Wounded Knee with newly developed Hotchkiss cannons and Gatling guns - the massacre turned into a field test of these new weapons technologies.
Those massacred at Wounded Knee were led by an old and dieing Chief Big Foot. The starving Indians were attempting to move from one part of the reservation to another to escape an enormous military mobilization intended to put down the last ditch effort by the people to use the spiritual Ghost Dance to hang onto their culture and traditional way of life. But even this was considered a threat by the US government and they responded to the Ghost Dance movement by first assassinating Sitting Bull in his log cabin on the reservation and then killing the defenseless people at Wounded Knee.
The weak, hungry, ill-clothed, and poorly armed Indian people had no chance up against the overwhelming power of the US Army. Just like we have more recently seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya the US military at Wounded Knee killed innocent people, mostly women and children, with unrestrained violence.
The army eventually conducted an "official investigation" (notice the similarity to current times) of Wounded Knee, initiated by the Congress. Written by Gen. E. D. Scott, the report concluded:
"That women and children were casualties was unfortunate but unavoidable, and most must have [been killed] from Indian bullets...The Indians at Wounded Knee brought their own destruction as surely as any people ever did. Their attack on the troops was as treacherous as any in the history of Indian warfare, and that they were under a strange religious hallucination is only an explanation, not an excuse."
The US government later awarded twenty Medals of Honor to soldiers (heroes?) who had participated in the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Following the massacre many Indian leaders on the reservation were rounded up and moved to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for imprisonment. On March 14, 1891, a newspaper reported: "Buffalo Bill has secured the consent of the government and will within a few days start for Europe with the hostile Sioux now held at Fort Sheridan. They are to be a part of his Wild West show."
The government essentially sold the Indians into slavery. Even then our government did the bidding of the "business" community.