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Wounded Knee

Wounded Knee, creek, rising in SW S.Dak. and flowing NW to the White River; site of the last major battle of the Indian wars. After the death of Sitting Bull, a band of Sioux, led by Big Foot, fled into the badlands, where they were captured by the 7th Cavalry on Dec. 28, 1890, and brought to the creek. On Dec. 29, the Sioux were ordered disarmed; but when a medicine man threw dust into the air, a warrior pulled a gun and wounded an officer. The U.S. troops opened fire, and within minutes almost 200 men, women, and children were shot. The soldiers later claimed that it was difficult to distinguish the Sioux women from the men. See also Ghost Dance. The site, which is on the Pine Ridge reservation, is now a national historic landmark.

The village of Wounded Knee, which borders the creek, was seized and occupied (Feb.–May, 1973) by American Indian Movement and Oglala Sioux activists protesting the treatment of Native Americans and the governance of the tribe. An armed standoff resulted between the occupiers and federal authorities, and several persons died from gunshots during the 71-day occupation. After the Native Americans surrendered, the leaders of the occupation were tried, but the case was dismissed on grounds of misconduct by the prosecution.

See H. Cox, Wounded Knee (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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