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Woods 1Eliza WoodsAri FeldWRIT 1120November 20, 2018The Wounded Knee Massacre: The Aftermath It is a well-known fact that as our country started to expand from 13 colonies, it experienced dark times. Beneath the spirit of Manifest Destiny and the Gold Rush of the late 1800s, a period that ultimately led to this country’s prosperity, lies a trend of expulsion, forced assimilation, assassinations, battles with, and extermination of countless Native American tribes. This pernicious trend is well-demonstrated through the Wounded Knee Massacre, America’s last act of genocide against Native Americans. To honor the 300 murdered members of the Lakota Sioux tribe, the U.S. Department of the Interior should extend the memorial that lies where the massacre occurred. Before diving straight into the event, it is important to recognize the events leading up to the massacre itself, as they also exemplify the aforementioned trend as well. In “Healing the Sacred Hoop,” David J. Simo, author and the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) natural resources program manager in 1991, provides a detailed telling of the Wounded Knee Massacre and the events leading up to it. According to Simo, this chain of events started on December 15, 1890 (3). On this day Chief Sitting Bull was assassinated at the reservation in which he resided. The members of Sitting Bull’s tribe, now refugees, escaped joining the Minneconjou Sioux, led by Chief Bigfoot. Fearful of the U.S. Army, Chief Bigfoot, his tribe, andthe refugees fled to Pine Ridge Reservation. However, while being pursued by the 7th Calvary, Bigfoot soon fell ill and had no choice but to surrender. From here on out, events become increasingly grim and lead up to the U.S. government’s last act of genocide against Native
Woods 2Americans. After Bigfoot’s surrender, Simo describes how a small scale battle between the Lakota men and the soldiers quickly evolves into a massacre. He reports, “The crash of gunfire that followed killed most of the Lakota men in the Council Circle, and hand to hand fighting broke out. The soldiers began firing the big Hotchkiss guns—releasing a shell a second shredding tepees and killing men, women, and children” (4). In the end, while some did escape and survive,around 300 Lakota Sioux members and 31 U.S. soldiers laid dead. While researching this event, Ilearned that pictures taken after the massacre are now compared to pictures taken of death campsduring the Holocaust. Images of American soldiers gathering Native bodies were placed side-by-side with images of Nazi soldiers gathering bodies, and the similarities are chilling. This goes to show how cruel and severe this massacre was, and how the U.S. government must hold itself accountable for atrocities such as this.