Wounded knee .docx - The Massacre at Wounded Knee It took all my nerve to keep my composure in the face of this spectacle and of the grief of my Indian

Wounded knee .docx - The Massacre at Wounded Knee It took...

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The Massacre at Wounded Knee “It took all my nerve to keep my composure in the face of this spectacle, and of the grief of my Indian companions, nearly every one of whom was crying aloud or singing his death song (Charles Eastman).” Those were the words of Charles Eastman as he walk upon the site of Wounded Knee. The spectacle that he was speaking of was the massacre that occur there on December 25 th during which almost 300 Lakota were killed by the U.S army in an event that would ultimately be known as the last chapter in America’s long “Indian” war. The conflict between the Lakota and the American government started long before 1980, since the white settlers had arrived on this continent they had taken land and claimed it theirs while pushing the Native tribes further and further back, confining them to smaller lands. One piece of those lands that the Americans took included the Black Hills which are a sacred place for the Lakota tribe. Black Elk, a Lakota historian describes why the black hills are sacred by saying “all of the universe holds a song and all of the songs of the universe [are] located in the Blacks Hills” and that it “is only complete in the Black Hills (Black Elk)”. Like the American government had done before, they signed a treaty with the Lakota called The Treaty of Fort Laramie and in that treaty the Lakotas were guaranteed the rights to the land that included the Black Hills. In 1874 gold was discovered on those lands and after that the public interest in that area increased with more people wanting to move out there to mine for gold. When the Lakotas tried to have that treated enforced they were met with conflict by the United Sates forces. Before when there was little interest for the white settlers to live the American government had no problem with giving that land to the Lakota tribe but now that it could profit them they quickly took those lands back. This ended with the Lakotas being forced to live on designated reservations. One these reservation they would be force to be dependent on government agencies
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for food and supplies. Because of this many reservations dealt with starvation. Faced with the reality that their former way of life was gone and watching their families starve caused some to seek a solution. Some of those desperate to return to their old way of life stated following the preaching’s of a Paiute shaman called Wovoka. Wovoka said that if the Sioux (also referred to as the Lakota) properly practiced the Ghost dance that they would restore their former way of life and the dead would rejoin the living. The ghost dance had become popular amongst the Sioux, this began to worry the white settlers who believed that this meant the Sioux were trying to rid the world of whites. One Indian Agent at Pine Ridge wrote Washington saying that the "Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy .... We need protection and we need it now. (Unknown)." When
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  • Spring '18
  • John Abbot
  • History, Lakota people, Wounded Knee Massacre, Wounded Knee

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