The Wounded Knee Massacre

December 29, 1890

An Introduction

by Lorie Liggett


The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 (which was originally referred to by the United States army as the Battle of Wounded Knee -- a descriptive moniker that remains highly contested by the Native American community) is known as the event that ended the last of the Indian wars in America. As the year came to a close, the Seventh Cavalry of the United States Army brought an horrific end to the century-long U.S. government-Indian armed conflicts.

On the bone-chilling morning of December 29, devotees of the newly created Ghost Dance religion made a lengthy trek to the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota to seek protection from military apprehension. Members of the Miniconjou Sioux (Lakota) tribe led by Chief Big Foot and the Hunkpapa Sioux (Lakota) followers of the recently slain charismatic leader, Sitting Bull, attempted to escape arrest by fleeing south through the rugged terrain of the Badlands. There, on the snowy banks of Wounded Knee Creek (Cankpe Opi Wakpala), nearly 300 Lakota men, women, and children -- old and young -- were massacred in a highly charged, violent encounter with U.S. soldiers. The memory of that day still evokes passionate emotional and politicized responses from present-day Native Americans and their supporters. The Wounded Knee Massacre, according to scholars, symbolizes not only a culmination of a clash of cultures and the failure of governmental Indian policies, but also the end of the American frontier. Although it did bring an end to the Ghost Dance religion, it did not, however, represent the demise of the Lakota culture, which still thrives today.





Great Sioux Nation
Ghost Dance Religion
The Massacre
Wounded Knee Research Resources

Return to 1890s America: A Chronology


Other Wounded Knee Websites:

Cankpe Opi Official Wounded Knee Website
PBS Archives of The West 1887-1914 Documents
Wesbites Devoted to Wounded Knee : (1), (2)
Lyric's to Buffy Sainte-Marie's Ballad "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"
The Native Voice
Dee Brown's Book "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"
Native American Protest Site
NativeNet Resources about Wounded Knee
Workers World News Article about the 1890 and 1973 Wounded Knee Incidents

Contributed by Lori Liggett
Bowling Green State University, American Culture Studies Program
Summer 1998