Remember Wounded Knee
"WOKIKSUYE CANKPE OPI"
December 29, 1890
Written by: Tamra Brennan, NDN News
This article may not be altered or modified in any way.
In 1889 the Ghost Dance was introduced to the Lakota people by a Paiute American Indian named Wovoka. They believed the Ghost Dance would bring back the buffalo, their people and would make the wasicu (white people) vanish. In the summer of 1890 the Lakota people began the Ghost Dance at the Stronghold on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Many of them wore brightly painted Ghost Shirts, which they believed would protect them from the Calvary ’s bullets.
This uprising caused fear within the whites and the Indian Agents. The Agent at Pine Ridge contacted Washington with the following statement:
"Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy....We need protection and we need it now. The leaders should be arrested and confined at some military post until the matter is quieted, and this should be done now."
In October 1890, the Calvary was instructed to “restore order” to the Indians and to put a stop to the Ghost Dance.
Sitting Bull was the first leader to be targeted; he was murdered on December 15, 1890 on the Standing Rock Reservation. Chief Big Foot heard about the murder, in fear for his people’s safety and fearing arrest, he led his band of approximately 300 men, women and children from Cheyenne River Reservation to the Pine Ridge Reservation. On December 28, 1890 Major Whitside of the 7th Calvary, intercepted and captured Chief Big Foot and his band, they were taken to Wounded Knee Creek.
Chief Big Foot was sick with pneumonia and was not resisting his capture. His people had been almost completely unarmed; women and children were separated from the men; they were all surrounded by Calvary soldiers.
The evening of December 28th, Colonel Forsyth arrived and took charge of the camp.
The morning of December 29th, a soldier attempted to take a rifle of a deaf man named, Black Coyote, his rifle disarmed, the Calvary took it as hostility and began shooting. Unarmed and running for their lives, approximately 300 men, women and children were chased down and massacred by the Calvary soldiers.
The people were all buried in a mass grave, which is located at the Wounded Knee Cemetery . The mass gravesite is marked with the memorial headstone which includes many of the victim’s names.
After the massacre, 20 medals of dis-honor were awarded to the 7th Calvary that participated in the Wounded Knee massacre. To this day, private citizens, groups, organizations and the American Indian people are requesting that Congress rescind these medals of dis-honor.
Each year on the anniversary, the Big Foot Riders ride their horses from Sitting Bull’s gravesite on Standing Rock reservation to Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation. Some years they rode that long distance in below zero temperatures. Upon their arrival at Wounded Knee, a ceremony is held to honor the 300 lost lives of their Lakota ancestors.