Wounded Knee

On this date in 1890, the 7th Cavalry killed about 350 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It is considered the last action of the Indian Wars, but it wasn’t a battle. It was a massacre. The Indian men had been largely disarmed before the firing began.

This 10-minute video, excerpted from a longer production, is a well-produced telling of what happened.

American Horse: There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce, and the women and children of course were strewn all along the circular village until they were dispatched. Right near the flag of truce a mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing, and that especially was a very sad sight. The women as they were fleeing with their babes were killed together, shot right through, and the women who were very heavy with child were also killed. All the Indians fled in these three directions, and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys who were not wounded came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there.

Lakota accounts of the massacre at Wounded Knee (1891)

One of the survivors was Black Elk, the famous medicine man, who was 27 years old at the time of the massacre. He wrote: “… I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, — you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.”

The Writer’s Almanac (2009)

The Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 is different from the Wounded Knee incident of 1973.