Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Prologue
Wounded Knee Cemetary
Distant Drums of Wounded Knee Prologue
Wounded Knee, South Dakota is on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is the site of the 1890 massacre described so well by Dee Brown in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970). In 1973 AIM (American Indian Movement) seized Wounded Knee cemetary, a trading post and Catholic church on February 27th in protest of incredibly poor and degraded living conditions of tribal peoples of the Northern Plains and elsewhere. AIM was founded in 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement in order to draw attention to Indian poverty, poor housing, treaty issues and political and social harassment. Founding members included Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, George Mitchell and Russell Means.
Treat of Fort Laramie 1868
One big issue was the Treaty of Fort Laramie signed in 1868 by Chief Red Cloud and by U.S. Government officials. It promised that the sacred Black Hills would belong to the Lakota Nation for as along as grass grows and rivers flow. But once gold was discovered there, all bets were off and the U.S. Army was sent in to protect gold miners and eventual towns established nearby. (See my hub "Spiritual Reclaiming of the Black Hills). Other local issues of importance were the seizing of funds by the Nixon administration for medical staffing of new medical facilities built by the Johnson Administration. During World War Two the United States Government seized thousands of acres of land from Pine Ridge for gunnery ranges. They were supposed to be returned after the war but never were!
Siege of Wounded Knee '73
AIM's seige of Wounded Knee last 71 days from February 27 through May 5, 1973. Representatives from tribes as far away as Eastern Canada (the Micmac people) participated in this siege. Several Indians were killed as well as one federal agent when the government surrounded Wounded Knee with armored vechicles and snipers. All of this gained world-wide attention that attracted interests of countless thousands of non-Indians from Europe, Asia and Africa. People in United States either supported the Nixon administration on this issue or did not. Those who did not included hundreds of returning Viet Nam veterans, some of whom actually organized air-drops of supplies over Wounded Knee. Additionally, Marlon Brando refused to accept his oscar for his performance in The Godfather (1972) and arranged for Sacheen Littlefeather to speak on his behalf at the ceremonies to explain Brando's protest of Hollywood's treatment of Indians in films (1973).
Paul Newman's Support
Paul Newman sympathized with the seizure of Wounded Knee and actually arranged for supplies to be smuggled into Wounded Knee during March and April, 1973 where the flag of the Lakota People flew overhead with the colors of the four sacred directions. The Nixon administration agreed to listen to the Indians in return for the giving up of the seized territory. It, of course, did not honor this promise and later incarcerated most of the tribal leaders involved with the seizure and protest.
I decided to write a piece of fiction which will have seven parts about the seizure of Wounded Knee in 1973 with characters including Samuel Revelle (a Shoshone), Spotted Hawk (a Lakota) and Kitty O'Connell (an Irish girl). I hope my fellow hubbers will enjoy this nearly completed series of stories.
See my hub Spiritual Reclaiming of the Black Hills of South Dakota
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Pine Ridge Indian Rez
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