The Treaty was only the beginning of the famous historical events that took place, though. During the winter of 1890, Chief Big Foot was leading a group Lakota Indians (mostly women and children) to find shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Before they could make it, the US army waged an attack on the banks of Wounded Knee. They were buried in a mass grave three days later, leaving the land sacred for all Indians after their time. This was the last armed resistance and played a key role in the events that transpired 100 years later. The reason for this brutal attack was a combination of American uncertainty and Indian culture. The Indians were peaceful and expressed themselves and their desire for a restoration to their culture through ceremonies with ghost dancers. However, Americans assumed this was a tribal preparation for war and aimed to shut it down before war broke out. US military personnel were sent to kill Chief Big Foot and 300 of his people who were merely travelling to another reservation site. “ The massacre would mark the brutal end of centuries of armed Indian resistance (WK, pg 11).” This gave the Indians to come a sense of connection to the sacred land and there was power in its symbolism. With the help of the media, eyes were turned on the American people to treat the Indians and
3 their massacre site with more respect than they would have received without the supervision. In the 1970s there was a big standoff at the same site as this last massacre of Indian resistance. With the eyes of the media upon them, the Indians were able to tell their story and divulge their struggles with the US government. The US was no longer able to walk in and shoot them down because all citizens watching the news were well aware of the significance of the land-- this was the site of the last Indian resistance, shot down by the government. Carter Camp of the Ponca tribe described “ If they didn’t, if they decided, you know, that that media was there so they don’t want to murder all of us, well, then the media is there to tell our side of the story (WK, pg 12).” The media, whether keeping the government from acting too harshly or whether giving American citizens a small taste of Indian life, kept this event from spiraling out of control. Because
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- Winter '18
- John Shaw
- History, Native Americans in the United States, Lakota people, Wounded Knee Massacre, Wounded Knee