Wounded Knee Massacre
On December 29th, 1890, at the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the Wounded Knee Massacre occurred. It all started on December 28th, when the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States under the command of Major Samuel M. Whitside ran into Chief Spotted Elk's small tribe of Miniconjou Lakota as well as 38 Hunkpapa Lakota and escorted them westward to Wounded Knee Creek, about 5 miles away.
This is where the Native Americans made camp and the 7th Cavalry Regiment surrounded it, and on December 29th, the troops went into the camp and disarmed everyone except one, named Black Coyote, who did not understand to give up his rifle as he was deaf and could not understand the soldiers. A fight broke out, and between 150 and 300 Native Americans were killed. 25 soldiers died, and 39 were wounded, 6 dying at a later time, and 20 soldiers were given the Medal of Honor, the highest recognition a soldier can receive for this.
The conflict started far before this however, when the U.S Government was taking over the land of the Lakota people. There were treaties made to protect lands that were reserved for Native Americans from people trying to set up homes or gold miners, but none were officially put into place. This greatly upset the Native Americans, who were constantly battling and searching for solutions to this ever-growing conflict.
A Native American named Wovoka had a vision of Jesus Christ returning to earth as a Native American. He had visions that the messiah would wipe the white man from the earth, and they would ascend above it, allowing the ancestors to live as ghosts on Earth and nature to be restored to its proper place. This would lead to the creation of the Ghost Dance, a dance which would help bring the Messiah forth and for this time to occur.
Because this Ghost Dance became so common amongst the Great Basin and Plains tribes, Americans started to worry this was setting up for an attack. U.S Indian agents stationed at Standing Rock Agency arrested Chief Sitting Bull. The military was hoping that Buffalo Bill, who was a friend of Sitting Bull, would help lower the possibility of violence, but James McLaughlin ignored this and would send Indian police to detain Sitting Bull.
The time came on December 15th, 1890, and there were 40 Native American policemen at his house to arrest him, arriving to a crowd of protestors. When Sitting Bull tried to pull away, the first shots were fired, killing the detaining officer. In the chaos that came after, Sitting Bull, eight people who supported him, and eight policemen ended up dead. The members of the tribe that Sitting Bull led fleed in fear of being attacked in retaliation, and tensions grew more and more as the Ghost Dance became wider and wider spread throughout the nation's Native Americans.
These events led to the Wounded Knee Massacre. The tension of having the soldiers come in and confiscate their weapons, on top of the apparent insubordination from Black Coyote all led to the slaughter of many Native Americans.
It is documented that the firing started from Black Coyote's gun misfiring as they tried to take his gun, the soldiers shot him, and then chaos ensued, but nothing can be certain. It wouldn't be until 1990 when the U.S Congress would officially rebuke the incident and call it a tragedy, and in 2003 the soldiers who received the Medal of Honor would all have their medals stripped post-mortem.
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