fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 
Opinion. Editor’s Note: This commentary was originally published by Native News Online in December 2013. It has been updated to reflect 132 years that have passed since the tragic day.

 

One hundred and thirty-two winters ago, on December 29, 1890, some 150 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by the US 7th Cavalry Regiment near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some estimate the actual number closer to 300.

Enjoying Native News Coverage?
NNO Logo Make A Donation Here

Snowfall was heavy that December week. The Lakota ancestors killed that day were left in brutal frigid wintry plains of the reservation before a burial party came to bury them in one mass grave. The photograph of Big Foot’s frozen and contorted body is a symbol for all American Indians of what happened to our ancestors.

Some of those who survived were eventually taken to the Episcopal mission in Pine Ridge. Eventually, some of them were able to give an oral history of what happened.

One poignant fact of the massacre has remained in my mind since first reading it. Every time I think about Wounded Knee, I remember this:

"It was the fourth day after Christmas in the Year of our Lord 1890, when the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men," writes Dee Brown in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

There was no peace on earth for the Lakota four days after Christmas.

Later, as absurd as it may sound, some 20 US Cavalry soldiers were given the Medal of Honor – for killing innocent Lakota men, women and children. What an insult to those who lost their lives. What an insult to humanity.  

Rightfully so, there is a movement afoot to strip those soliders of their medals. Hopefully, Congress will see fit to pass the Remove the Stain Act in 2023. They must.  

The Wounded Knee Massacre is a symbol for all American Indians of what happened to our ancestors.

History records the Wounded Knee Massacre was the last battle of the American Indian Wars. Unfortunately, it is when most American history books drop American Indians from history, as well. As if we no longer exist.  

Fortunately, American Indians have survived – one generation after another – since Wounded Knee. It is for us who remain to remember our ancestors as we make for a better life for those we encounter today. We are also taught to prepare for the next seven generations, but as we do, we must remember our ancestors.

We remember those ancestors lost 132 winters ago on December 29.  

More Stories Like This

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to Host Hearing on Public Safety in Indian Country
Native Bidaské with Kevin Sharp on Leonard Peltier’s Upcoming Parole Hearing
Senate Subcommittee to Hear Testimony on President Biden’s FY Budget for Indian Programs on Thursday
Native News Weekly (May 19, 2024): D.C. Briefs
Native Artist and Former Cultural Advisor to the Chicago Blackhawks Sues Team for Sexual Harassment, Fraud

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].