Wounded Knee Massacre – 29 December 1890

Victims of Wounded Knee Massacre buried in a mass grave
Victims of Wounded Knee Massacre buried in a mass grave

Anniversary of Wounded Knee Massacre

THUNDER BAY – The Massacre at Wounded Knee saw over 300 men, women and children shot down on December 29th in 1890.

The United States 7th Cavalry Regiment, under the command of Major Samuel M. Whiteside was responsible for the shootings, which has to this day remained an annual memorial for people around the world. The Massacre happened at Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota.

The events leading up to the massacre were similar to the battles in the territory that were a result of the United States Government basically ignoring treaty obligations.

U.S General Miles sent this telegram from Rapid City to General John Schofield in Washington, D.C., on December 19, 1890:

“The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations that the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing.”

“They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures.”

“The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life. These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses.”

Victims of Wounded Knee Massacre buried in a mass grave
Victims of Wounded Knee Massacre buried in a mass grave
The Sioux and Lakota Nations were being pushed to the point of starvation by direct decisions made by the government.

The government decided that the solution was disarming the people.

The military battle started the previous day when the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment  intercepted Spotted Elk’s band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them five miles (8.0 km) westward to Wounded Knee Creek, where they made camp.

The remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, led by Colonel James W. Forsyth, arrived and surrounded the encampment.

On the morning of December 29, the cavalry went into the camp to disarm the Lakota.

One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it.

A scuffle over the rifle escalated, and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow soldiers. The Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking soldiers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.


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