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
culture, which still thrives today.
Return to 1890s
America: A Chronology
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