When I visit Pine Ridge Reservation I am always struck by the history of the place. Indeed, so much United States history has played out in that area that it is difficult to ignore it.
Today marks the anniversary of one of the most infamous of events that occurred there.
Today is the anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. It is often referred to as the last battle between the United States and Indians. But there was no battle, only a massacre of innocents. Five hundred troops from the U.S. 7th Calvary which has formerly fought under General Custer, opened fire on 350 unarmed Lakota men, women and children.
The stories vary as they usually do when something like this happens. In short, the 7th Calvary was ordered to disarm the Lakota and it was during this process that a deaf man who did not understand what was happening refused to give up his rifle. Shots rang out and then chaos as
the Calvary opened fire. By the time it was over, more than 146 men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux lay dead. Twenty-five soldiers were also dead but it is not known whether they died at the hands of the Lakota or by "friendly fire".
While the bodies of the dead were left scattered over the field to freeze, the wounded were taken to an agency church which was quickly converted into a clinic. Ironically, being a few days after Christmas, the church was still decorated with a banner that read "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men".
The U.S. soldiers were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor, which still stand to this day. This video tells the story. It's almost 10 min. long, but it is extremely well done and informative.
Today is a historic day, but Pine Ridge Reservation continues to make history. In the early 70's there was an uprising at Wounded Knee. Our group always travels to Wounded Knee to see the Memorial with the mass grave from the 1890 massacre, and to see the church shot full of bullet holes during the 70's uprising.
And as recently as last week, the Lakota officially withdrew from the U.S. Today more history-making events are scheduled to occur when the Lakota reveal the "new land boundaries". I am curious to see how that will take place and what effects it will have.