Massacre at Wounded Knee

By: Abby Reichen and Baylee Smith

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"... every redskin must be killed from off the face of the plains before we can be free from their molestation..."-Major John Vance Lauderdale

The Sioux Indian tribe was attacked unjustly by the Seventh Calvary United States troops which resulted in a bloody massacre. (1) The Sioux Indians were targeted by the troops because of religious and lifestyle differences. The Massacre at Wounded Knee was the scene of multiple unnecessary fatalities between US Soldiers and the innocent Native Americans. December 29, 1890 marked the beginning of a new relations between the Native Americans and the people of the United States.-AR

Native Americans and the Ghost Dance

Native Americans danced a special ceremonial dance called the Ghost Dance. The Ghost Dance was a dance to the gods asking for new soil, the bison to return, and for the white people to go back where they came from. (2) Many tribes danced this dance but the Lakota Sioux were the most fervent about it. This frightened the white authorities so, they decided to do something about it. The authorities wanted Native Americans in reservations so that they wouldn't bring any harm to them. (3) Native Americans and the white people had different religious beliefs and lifestyle choices and neither party was willing to accept one another.-AR

Political Cartoon of a US troop attacking an innocent Sioux Indian-AR

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US Troops vs. Sioux Native Americans

The Sioux tribe was just devastated with the news that their leader, Sitting Bull, had died. Bigfoot took about 350 people from the tribe to go on a spiritual journey along the South Dakota territory. Bigfoot and his men took refuge at Wounded Knee to set up camp. US troops surrounded the Sioux camp and charged at them on December 29, 1890. Every Native American was disarmed and Bigfoot was arrested (5) .-AR

"Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy....We need protection and we need it now. The leaders should be arrested and confined at some military post until the matter is quieted, and this should be done now."

The arrest of the Sioux Indian leader sparked the start of the massacre. Bigfoot and his people were disarmed and Bigfoot was taken away with the United States soldiers. (1) The Sioux Indians believed that along with the Ghost Dance these Ghost Shirts would help protect them and give them the spiritual strength they needed from the United States soldiers. (2) Bigfoot was sick with pneumonia and was starting to age and die. The United States troops shot and killed Bigfoot the same day he was arrested, after they were talking with him. (1) This caused the outbreak of the Massacre at Wounded knee.- BS

The Seventh Calvary

Indians were furious from the death of Bigfoot. They gathered what they could of their disarmed weapons and attacked the United States soldiers. The seventh cavalry was the name of the United States soldiers that surrounded the group of Indians. They had four Hotchkiss guns that were set up on a hill, over looking and pointed right at the Sioux Indians camp grounds. It was led by colonel James Forsyth. Joesph Horn Cloud Lakota, a Sioux Indian who survived the massacre, was one of the witnesses of the massacre. The officers said to the Sioux "I want the same number of soldiers to stand in front of the Indians and take the cartridges out of the guns and cock them and aim at their foreheads and pull the triggers. After this you will be free." (7) He and 500 of his men fired at the 350 Sioux Indians. (4) Clouds of gun smoke and the screams from men, women, and children filled the air. As many Sioux Indian women and children ran for their lives away from the soldiers or to the next reservation to seek safety. Most of these women and children unfortunately did not seek the safety they wished and were shot and killed by the United States soldiers. -BS

Seventh Calvary Men -BS

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Deaths

After the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared from the air, about 300 Indian men, women, and children died instantly from the fighting. Some also died from freezing to death, due to the cold South Dakota weather conditions and the snow on the ground. About 25 of Forsyth's men died from the fighting and there were about 39 soldiers wounded. (4) This battle and these deaths are unnecessary and could've been avoided if the people of the United States were more accepting of the Sioux Indians Ghost Dance. -BS

Info-graphic of the Massacre at Wounded Knee -BS

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A Killed Dream

"I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes young."(6). This massacre showed the United States's true colors. America was suppose to be a free country, and you could practice any religion you wanted to, no matter what race or religion you were. Why was it so different for these Sioux Indians? The United States soldiers had no right in killing these harmless Sioux Indians. The Sioux, along with many other Indians, were forced out of their homes, lost of their belongings and homes and put on reservations by the cruel Americans, and now they were killed for practicing their own religion and spiritual beliefs. This massacre marked the last showdown between the Native Americans and United States armies. - BS