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. The
Wounded Knee Massacre was a conflict between the North American Lakota
People and agents of the U.S. government. Most of the victims were members
of the Miniconjou band of the Lakota Sioux. They had been intercepted by
military forces after they fled their reservation in South Dakota for refuge
in the Badlands. After the death of Sitting Bull, a band of Sioux, led by
Chief Big Foot, were captured by the Seventh Cavalry on Dec. 28, 1890, and
brought to the creek. On Dec. 29, the Sioux were surrounded and ordered to
disarm. Some Indians began singing a Ghost Dance, which involved throwing
handfuls of dirt in the air. The troops perceived these actions as signals
to attack. A man (possibly named Black Coyote) refused to forfeit his rifle
to a U.S. soldier. In the ensuing struggle the gun discharged, at which
point the U.S. troops opened fire. The outnumbered Lakotas fled, with the
military in pursuit. More than 250 Native Americans (including Chief Big
Foot) were killed, including women and children. According to oral testimony
by Indian survivors, some soldiers shouted "Remember the Little Bighorn" as
they gave chase to those who fled. Casualties were discovered up to three
miles away from the camp. Photographers accompanied the burial detail. The
photographs, together with news stories, spread the story of the Wounded
Knee Massacre. 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. C. Richardson, Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an
American Massacre (2010); J. A. Greene, American
Carnage: Wounded Knee (2014); D. W. Grua, Surviving
Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (2016); R.
L. Nichols, Massacring Indians: From Horseshoe Bend to Wounded
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