The Battle At Wounded Knee Essay

This essay has a total of 1569 words and 8 pages.

The Battle At Wounded Knee

The Battle At Wounded Knee

On December 15, 1890 authorities feared that the Sioux's new Ghost
Dance3 religion might inspire an uprising. Sitting Bull permitted Grand
River people to join the antiwhite Ghost Dance cult and was therefore
arrested by troops. In the fracas that followed, he was shot twice in the
head.
Sitting Bull' followers were apprehended and brought to the U.S
Army Camp at Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota.
Moving among the tipis, soldiers lifted women's dresses and
touched their private parts, ripping from them essential cooking and
sewing utensils. The men sitting in the council heard the angry shrieks of
their wives, mothers, and daughters. Several Lakota, offended by the
abusive actions of the cavalry, stubbornly waited to have their weapons
taken from them. It was a show of honor in front of their elders, for few
of them were old enough to have fought in the "Indian Wars" fifteen years
before.
That night, everyone was tired out by the hard trip. James Asay, a
Pine Ridge trader and whiskey runner, brought a ten-gallon keg of whiskey
to the Seventh Cavalry officers. Many of the Indian men were kept up all
night by the drunken Cavalry where the soldiers kept asking them how old
they were. The soldiers were hoping to discover which of the men had been
at the Battle of Little Bighorn where Custer was killed.
On the bitterly cold morning of December 29, 1890, Alice Ghost
Horse,
a thirteen- year old Lakota girl rode her horse through the U.S Army camp
looking for her father, one of the Indian men who had been rounded up
earlier that day.
Less than fifty yards away she could see her father sitting on the
ground with other disarmed men from Chief Big Foot's band, surrounded by
more than 500 heavily armed soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry. She looked
North up the hill where four "guns on wheels" were mounted. Troopers
watched silently on each side of the Hotchkiss battery.
To one side Alice noticed a familiar figure standing with hands
raised above his head, his arms turned upward in prayer. It was the
medicine man by the name of Yellow Bird. He stood facing the east, right
by the fire pit which was now covered with dirt. He was praying and
crying. He was saying to the spotted eagles that he wanted to die instead
of his people. He must have sense that something was going to happen. He
picked up some dirt from the fire place and threw it up in the air and
said, "This is the way I want to go, back to dust."
Seventh Cavalry interpreter Phillip F. Wells, whose knowledge of
the Lakota language was poor, later told military investigators that a man
named Yellow Bird stood up at Wounded Knee and deliberately incited the
Lakota to fight.
Colonel Forsyth gave a bizarre order: each soldier was told to aim
his unloaded gun at an Indians forehead and to pull the trigger. After
Wells translated the demeaning order to the astonished Lakota, they could
not comprehend this foolishness. Looking at each other, their faces grew
"wild with fear."
Alice then saw two or three sergeants grab a deaf man named Black
Coyote who had yet to be disarmed. His friends had been so busy talking
that they had left him uniformed. The soldiers tore off his blanket,
roughly twirling him around. He raised his rifle above his head to keep it
away from them. In the midst of yelling, jerking, and twisting, the
struggle ended unexpectedly when the rifle pointed toward the east end
discharged in the crisp morning air.
Lieutenant James Mann screamed, "Fire! Fire on them!" On command
the troops opened fire in an explosive volley, enclosing both attackers
and victims in a dark curtain of pungent smoke.
That day over three hundred elderly men, women, and children, all
disarmed were brutally murdered. After the genocidal procedure occurred, a
blizzard hit, and it was on the forth day that search parties were sent
out to bury the dead.
A newspaper reporter accompanying the burial party described the
first body they found as that of a male about twelve years old. The boy
had been shot.
He was wearing a "ghost shirt" embolized with an eagle, buffalo, and
morning-star insignia. They believed that these symbols of powerful
spirits would protect them from the soldier's bullets.
Many of the wounded survivors later died or were secretly carried
away in the night by Lakota from other bands. The dead were buried in
hidden locations, and carefully concealed from federal officials who later
underestimated the death toll at 146, over two hundred less than the
actual number butchered an their own land.
The frozen bodies were taken to the top of the hill overlooking
the valley where they had died. Gravediggers carved a gaping hole form the
earth, six feet deep, ten wide, sixty long. When the orders were given to
bury the first load, three soldiers jumped into the grave and each corpse
was given to them one at a time. They stripped them of all salable
articles from the bodies as if they were skinning rabbits.
Without prayer services of any kind, the Lakota dead were layered
in a mass grave, first one naked row across the bottom of the trench, and
old army blankets were placed over them, then another row of limp bodies
lengthwise. And so on they continued until the last mound of dirt was
shoveled on.

Continues for 4 more pages >>




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