Never Forgetting What Happened at Wounded Knee December 29, 1890Roundup: Talking About History
Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji), a Lakota Indian, writing in the Baltimore Sun (Dec. 28, 2003):
On crystal-clear nights, when winter winds whistle through the hills and canyons around Wounded Knee Creek, the Lakota elders say it is so cold that one can hear the twigs snapping in the frigid air.
They called this time of the year"the Moon of the Popping Trees." It was on such a winter morning on Dec. 29, 1890, that the crack of a single rifle brought a day of infamy that still lives in the hearts and minds of the Lakota people.
After the rifle spoke there was a pause and then the rifles and Hotchkiss guns of the 7th Cavalry opened up on the men, women and children camped at Wounded Knee. What followed was utter chaos and madness. The thirst for the blood of the Lakota took away all common sense from the soldiers.
The unarmed Lakota fought back with bare hands. The warriors shouted to their wives, their elders and their children,"run for cover," Iynkapo! Iyankapo!
Elderly men and women, unable to fight back, stood defiantly and sang their death songs before falling to the hail of bullets. The number of Lakota people murdered that day is still unknown. The mass grave at Wounded Knee holds the bodies of 150 men, women and children. Many other victims died of their wounds and of exposure over the next several days.
The Lakota people say that only 50 people out of the original 350 followers of Sitanka (Big Foot) survived the massacre.
Five days after the slaughter of the innocents an editorial in the Aberdeen (S.D.) Saturday Pioneer reflected the popular opinion of the wasicu (white people) of that day. It read,"The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."
Ten years after he wrote that editorial calling for genocide against the Lakota people, L. Frank Baum wrote that wonderful children's book, The Wizard of Oz.
The federal government tried to forever erase the memory of Wounded Knee. The village that sprang up on the site of the massacre was named Brennan after a Bureau of Indian Affairs official. But the Lakota people never forgot. Although the name"Brennan" appeared on the map, they still called it Wounded Knee. In the 1920s, Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve built the Wounded Knee Trading Post there to serve the Lakota people.
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