The Root of Ethnic Discrimination at Wounded Knee

In December of 1890, some 300 Lakota Indians, led by Chief Spotted Elk, took up an encampment in the area we now know as Wounded Knee, South Dakota. While they were resting, a larger group of U.S. soldiers surrounded the Indians. A single shot was fired from the soldiers, sparking a string of unprecedented fire from the troops. When the rain of ammunition ceased, over 300 Lakota Indians laid dead from gunfire, cannon fire or manual butchering from the soldiers. For four days, the dead laid where they were, frozen in the cold winter snow and air. The soldiers came back on that fourth day and loaded the dead in wagons and hauled them to mass graves. Following this incident, 27 Congressional Medals of Honor for bravery were awarded to several of the soldiers who participated in the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Eighty-three years later, on February 27, 1973, a large group of armed Native Americans reclaimed Wounded Knee in the name of the Lakota Nation. For the first time in over a century, those Oglala Sioux ruled themselves, free from government intervention. The federal government found out about the militant movement and surrounded the group of Native Americans at Wounded Knee. Forces inside Wounded Knee demanded an investigation into misuse of tribal funds, as well as an investigation into the BIA and the Department of the Interior regarding their handling of the affairs of the Oglala Sioux tribe. The warriors also demanded an investigation into the 371 treaties between the Native Nations and government, all of which had been broken by the U.S. The warriors held fast to these demands and refused to lay down arms until they were met. In turn, the government cut off the electricity to Wounded Knee and attempted to keep all food supplies from entering the area. For the rest of the winter, the men and women inside lived on minimal resources, while they fought back and forth with the feds. Heavy gunfire was issued between the two sides dai…


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