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DECEMBER 29th, 1890



The massacre at Wounded Knee is a military operation that took place in the United States of America, South Dakota , December 29, 1890. Between 300 and 350 Indians of the Lakota tribe Miniconjou ( including dozens of women and children) were killed by the army of the United States.


Five hundred soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States , supported by four Hotchkiss guns , surrounded an encampment of Lakota Indians with orders to convey train to Omaha, Nebraska . The commander of the 7th had been ordered to conduct a preliminary disarmament.

There are different versions of the massacre but historians agree that the shooting started when disarming the Indians. A shot rang out and the Indians surrounded and disarmed , were shot . A total of 26 troopers and 153 Sioux Indians were killed, including 62 women and children. Indian corpses were buried in a mass grave on the site of the massacre . Other Sioux died of their injuries later and a lieutenant in the cavalry.


In February 1890, the government of the United States broke a treaty with the Lakota by dividing the Great Sioux Indian Reservation in the State of South Dakota ( which included most of the state) in which all five reserves is smaller. This is done to satisfy the interests of the owners of the East, in accordance with the clearly stated policy of the government " to break the tribal relations" and force "the Indians to conform to the lifestyle of the white man , peacefully if possible or otherwise by force . "

Once reserves "adjusted" , the tribes were separated into family units on plots of 320 acres or 130 hectares.
Because of drought, crop 1890 are insufficient to ensure the supply of the Sioux. Unfortunately for the Indians, the government has also cut rations in half, the Indians are considered " lazy" . As bison , moreover, been virtually cut off from the plains a few years earlier , the Sioux are found in famine .

The Ghost Dance (Ghost Dance)
In 1890 , Jack Wilson, an Indian religious leader known as Wovoka said that during the total solar eclipse of January 1, 1889 , he received the revelation that he is the Messiah of his people. The spiritual movement it creates becomes known as the " Ghost Dance " (Ghost Dance) , syncretic blend of Christianity and spiritualism Paiute shaker . Although Wilson has predicted the demise of the white men , he also teaches that until doomsday , Native Americans should live in peace and do not refuse to work for whites .


Among the Sioux , the two first converts to the new religion are Kicking Bear and Short Bull , the Pine Ridge Reservation . Both ensure that Wilson was levitated in front of them , but they interpret his words differently. They reject the contention of Wilson to be the Messiah and believe that the Messiah will not arrive until 1891. They also refuse Wilson 's pacifism and feel as special clothes, " shirts minds" ( ghost shirts ) will protect them from bullets.

The Ghost Dance spread rapidly among the Sioux demoralized and hungry. Frightened , Indian officials seek help from the army. Although it appears that a majority of Indians of Pine Ridge Reservation was converted Chief Sitting Bull did not belong. However, it guarantees religious freedom , but federal officials interpret this tolerance as a full support , and General Nelson Miles ordered his arrest. Forty-three Indian policemen try to stop 15 December 1890 at the Standing Rock Agency . For unclear reasons, shooting trips and Sitting Bull among the twelve killed.

Four hundred Hunkpapa Lakota fleeing the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation Lakota Miniconjou . 38 Hunkpapa Lakota village of Sitting Bull took refuge in the camp of Miniconjou Big Foot in the Cheyenne River reservation . Miles immediately ordered the arrest of Big Foot but the army procrastinate , hoping that the reputation of pacifist it will prevent hostilities. When Hunkpapa occur, frightened by the arrival of many soldiers in the reserve , 300 Miniconjou decide to abandon their villages and join Chief Red Cloud ( which is not part of the movement of the Ghost Dance ) branch Pine Ridge .

Ignoring the intentions of the Indians, and fearing that the destination of Big Foot is the stronghold of the followers of the Ghost Dance in the Bad Lands , General Miles deploys the 6th and 9th cavalry regiments to block Minniconjou .

Big Foot Clan is intercepted by Major Samuel Whitside and about 200 men of the 7th Cavalry ( decimated at Little Big Horn by the Sioux 14 years ago ) . Whitside transfers Big Foot suffering from severe pneumonia to an ambulance and escort them to the Lakota camp for the night at Wounded Knee Creek. The army provides Lakota tents and rations. Indians are counted : there in the village 120 men and 230 women and children.

The next morning, the Lakota are faced with them the rest of the regiment , with its commander, Colonel James W. Forsyth , who arrived during the night, and a battery of Hotchkiss guns of the 1st regiment of artillery. The arms are arranged on a small hill overlooking the camp. Forsyth informed Whitside the Lakota should be transferred to a military camp in Omaha, Nebraska.


The 7th Cavalry was ordered by the commander of the Department of the Platte , General John Brooke , disarm clan Big Foot before transferring to Nebraska. The night before , after being escorted to the camp and being surrounded on all sides, the Lakota are treated as virtual prisoners. Forsyth chose not to try to disarm them in the evening.

In the morning, the Lakota men gathered and told that they must submit all their firearms. The soldiers , fearing that weapons are hidden , begin to search the tents, angering Lakota , according to the army, under the influence of a shaman Miniconjou , Yellow Bird.

When the soldiers tried to disarm a Lakota named Black Coyote , a shot part. Generally shootout ensues. Most Lakota men , surrounded by soldiers , are killed . Survivors emerge . This is when the cannons bombard the village women and children.


It has long been claimed that 146 Lakota were killed and 25 troopers of the United States which also had 35 wounded , Big Foot among the dead.
In fact , the U.S. military now recognizes that it is 300 to 350 Native Americans who died in the "massacre" [1] , a term used by General Nelson A. Miles in a letter of 13 March 1917 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs . The soldiers firing from all sides , we believe that some of them were killed by their own regiment , but no investigation has allowed to know the truth .
Lieutenant James D. Mann, one of the main causes of fire , died of his wounds seventeen days later on 15 January 1891 at Fort Riley in Kansas.

When the snowstorm that hit the meantime to calm the military hire civilians buried in a mass grave of 146 victims Lakota : 84 men and boys, 44 women and 18 children. In addition, 7 die in hospital Lakota Pine Ridge as a result of their injuries.


Colonel Forsyth, disowned by General Nelson Miles, was immediately relieved of his command . A thorough investigation by military tactics critical Miles arrangements by Forsyth while exempting from liability. The Secretary of War then restored Forsyth in his command of the 7th Cavalry Regiment .

The court held that, for the most part , the troopers tried to avoid damage to non-combatants .
However Miles continued to criticize Forsyth , according to him, deliberately disobeyed orders . It is the general opinion is that Miles that Wounded Knee was a deliberate rather than a tragedy caused by poor decisions ( the American public while being generally supportive Forsyth ) massacre.

Twenty " medals of honor" are awarded to soldiers of the 7th Cavalry for their conduct during the massacre. Today , Native Americans claim they are strongly reclassified as " medals of dishonor ."

Many non- Lakota living near the reservations interpreted the battle as the defeat of a murderous cult , the Ghost Dance , which is the amalgamation of the followers of this cult and Native Americans in general.


Shortly after the massacre, a young journalist , L. Frank Baum ( who later became famous as the author of the Wizard of Oz ) wrote in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer of Saturday, January 3, 1891 :

"The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer has said the past that our safety depended on the extermination of the Indians . After they have wronged for centuries , we should , in order to protect our civilization , insist again and rid the land of these untamed and untamable creatures. On this depends the safety of the settlers and soldiers commanded by incompetent . Otherwise, we can expect that future years bring us many troubles with the Redskins past years . "

Towards the end of the twentieth century , critics are more vivid. Many consider the event as one of the greatest atrocities in the history of the United States.
It is well remembered by the song committed Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (" Bury my heart at Wounded Knee ") , written by Buffy Sainte -Marie .
It is also the subject of a bestselling book by historian Dee Brown published in 1971 (New York , Holt, Rinehart & Winston ) : Bury my heart at Wounded Knee : the long march of Indians to death ( Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee , an Indian History of the American West ) .


Wounded Knee is generally considered the event that puts an end to 400 years of Indian wars. Strictly speaking , however , the killing is not the last conflict between Native Americans and the Army of the United States.
A skirmish took place at Drexel Mission the day after the massacre at Wounded Knee , which causes the death of a trooper and wounding six others belonging to the 7th Cavalry . This event at Drexel Mission was almost completely overshadowed by the drama of the day . Lakota dancers who were persuaded to go away prefer learning what happened at Wounded Knee. They burned several buildings of the mission and attract a squadron of the 7th Cavalry in an ambush and harass until the arrival of reinforcements from the 9th Cavalry Regiment .