fbpx
 

This Day in History – Feb. 27, 1973

Among the American Indian Movement (AIM) membership, February 27th is known as Liberation Day to mark the occupation of the hamlet of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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

It was 49 years ago today, AIM began to occupy Wounded Knee as a protest against the federal government and its policies towards Native Americans.

The occupation lasted 71 days. It was viewed nationally as a standoff between AIM and the federal government.

 

Russell Means and Dennis Banks were two of the AIM leaders who occupied Wounded Knee on Feb. 27, 1973. (Photo/file photo)

“At the time of Wounded Knee 1973, I was a member of the Denver chapter of the American Indian Movement. I spent 71 days at the Little Big Horn bunker with these other warriors. We survived eleven fire fights, while protecting the Eastern boundaries of the community. The big issue at the time was protecting treaty rights of the Oglala Sioux Nation, and seeking compliance of those treaty rights by the U.S. government,” Lenny Foster (Diné), who is the spiritual advisor to Leonard Peltier, said to Native News Online about his involvement at Wounded Knee.

On March 13, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the US Justice Department, Harlington Wood Jr., became the first government official to enter Wounded Knee without a military escort. Determined to resolve the deadlock without further bloodshed, he met with AIM leaders for days and, while exhaustion made him too ill to conclude the negotiation, he is credited as the “icebreaker” between the government and AIM.

Both sides reached an agreement on May 5 to disarm, and three days later the siege ended and the town was evacuated after 71 days of occupation; the government then took control of the town. During the incident, a Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota were killed by the FBI.

Editor’s Note: Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources contributed to this article.

More Stories Like This

Cortez Masto, Gallego Introduce BADGES Act to Strengthen Tribal Law Enforcement 
University of Kansas Says It Has Native American Remains in Museum Collection
AAIA Aiming to ReACTivate Ancestral Connections at 8th Annual Repatriation Conference
A Road Map Home: Reclaiming Buried Relatives from Carlisle Indian School
Preservation of Peyote Habitat Top Priority by Native American Church on Capitol Hill

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected]