Before Wounded Knee

In 1890 American fear, xenophobia, and religious intolerance led to the massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. While there have been many books written about this massacre, there were a number of related incidents prior to this.  

Setting the Stage for Violence in 1890:

In South Dakota, the Great Sioux Reservation was broken up into five smaller reservations occupying about half the land as previously. The other half of the reservation was opened up for non-Indian settlement at bargain prices. The proceeds from the sale of the former reservation lands were supposed to go to the Indians as compensation for their lost territory. The railroads were given permission to survey and build lines with no regard for any Sioux concerns.

At that same time, in Nebraska, the Christian Indian newspaper The Word Carrier reported about the Paiute prophet Wovoka:

“The Indians are generally excited over a so-called super-human visitor who is making frequent visits to the Indians in the Rocky Mountains. He performs some sleight of hand work and has made them believe that he is the Christ the Son of God. He is nothing but a petty representation of the Mormons of Utah.”

Wovoka

Paiute prophet Wovoka is shown above.

Missionary Mary Collins reported that Sitting Bull was a Ghost Dance leader. She recommended that he be banished:

“A few years in a prison learning English and a good trade would have a quieting influence upon the old man and his followers.”

While Sitting Bull, like other Indian leaders, was aware of Wovoka as a Paiute prophet in Nevada, he had no contact with him and was not involved with the new religion.

An editorial in the Black Hills Daily Times in response to rumors about the Ghost Dance:

“The Indians must be killed as fast as they make an appearance and before they can do any damage. It is better to kill an innocent Indian occasionally than to take chances on goodness.”

In Nebraska, the Christian Dakota language newspaper Iapi Oaye reported on the Ghost Dance movement with preaching and teaching. Calling Wovoka a false prophet, it quoted Bible verses showing that the religion was wrong.

In South Dakota, Kicking Bear introduced to the Lakota a special shirt. The shirts were decorated with a star and crescent moon and feathers at the shoulders. According to non-Indian sources, he claimed that bullets would not go through these shirts. The new shirts became a part of the Ghost Dance movement among the Sioux.

Kicking Bear’s Ghost Dance shirts seem to have been inspired by the shirts worn by the Arapaho Ghost Dancers. These shirts are made out of white muslin with a painted line of blue and one of yellow on the back. The Arapaho shirts, in turn, seem to have been inspired by the Mormon endowment robes of white muslin ornamented with symbols of their faith.

Anti-Indian Violence in 1890:

In Nebraska, the non-Indian residents of Chadron, concerned about rumors regarding an Indian upr55ising stemming from the Ghost Dance religion, passed a resolution asking for government troops. The resolution states in part:

“Resolved, that the leaders and instigators of criminality in savages should receive at the hands of the Government the punishment the law provides for traitors, anarchists and assassins.”

In South Dakota, Anglo settlers fearing an uprising from the Lakota Ghost Dancers asked the government for rifles and ammunition. Two militia units were organized to kill Indians. South Dakota’s governor told them “Be discreet in killing the Indians.”

At the Cole Ranch, Dead Arm was shot and killed as he rode into the trading post. His body was scalped and allowed to lay in the dirt for three days while cowboys poked sticks at it and photographers took pictures of it.

Near the Lakota Stronghold, the militia ambushed and killed about 75 Ghost Dancers, including women and children. One of the militiamen took seven pack loads of items from the dead — guns, war bonnets, ghost shirts — and used them to start a museum in Chicago.

The United States 8th Cavalry sent out a unit on a reconnaissance mission near the Lakota Stronghold. The unit came across a small band of Lakota and killed them all. The Indians’ guns were removed and the bodies buried. The troops were sworn to secrecy.  

In South Dakota, James McLaughlin, the Indian agent for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, angrily confronted Sioux leader Sitting Bull, telling him that Wovoka’s messiah doctrine was absurd and that Sitting Bull should stop his people from dancing. Sitting Bull replied that he and McLaughlin should go to Nevada and meet with Wovoka to find out first hand about the new religious movement. Sitting Bull promised McLaughlin that he would not hesitate to enlighten his people if Wovoka’s words were false and he would urge them to give up the ritual. McLaughlin refused the challenge. McLaughlin claimed that Sitting Bull was uncooperative, and he threatened the dignified leader with jail.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull is shown above.

Indian police were sent to arrest Lakota leader Sitting Bull because of rumors that he intended to attend the Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge. In a short fight, Sitting Bull and several of his followers were killed by the Indian Police. The Indian agent’s reasons for arresting Sitting Bull:

“Sitting Bull is a polygamist, libertine, habitual liar, active obstructionist, a great obstacle in the civilization of those people, and he is so totally devoid of any of the nobler traits of character, and so wedded to the old Indian ways and superstitions that it is very doubtful if any change for the better will ever come to him.”

The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, in its report on the death of Sitting Bull:

“The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.”

The newspaper was published by L. Frank Baum who later gained fame for his book The Wizard of Oz.

Aftermath:

Commenting on the spread of the Ghost Dance on the Sioux reservations which led to the massacre at Wounded Know, Lakota writer and physician Charles Eastman would write in 1918:

“The teachings of the Christian missionaries had prepared them to believe in a Messiah, and the prescribed ceremonial was much more in accord with their traditions than the conventional worship of the churches.”

The Sioux Return

In 1876 the United States declared war on the Sioux in order to obtain the Black Hills in what is now South Dakota. Subsequently, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led the 7th Cavalry in an attack on a Lakota and Cheyenne  camp at the Little Bighorn River and was soundly de¬feated. Following this defeat, the U.S. military launched a major campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne.

In 1877, Sioux leader Sitting Bull brought 135 lodges of his people north from the United States to find refuge in Canada. They settled in the White Mud River area of Saskatchewan. Here the Sioux found the buffalo in greater numbers than in the United States. To the Sioux, this appeared to be the promised land where they could continue their traditional lifestyle.  

Major James Walsh of the Northwest Mounted Police met with Sitting Bull and told him that the Sioux would now have to obey the queen’s laws and in return they would receive the queen’s protection. He warned the Sioux that they were not to return to the United States to hunt or to steal. The Mounted Police had a reputation for being fair in their judgments. Some of the Mounted Police, including Walsh, felt that the Sioux had been badly treated in the United States. Walsh had a genuine concern for the well-being of Sitting Bull and his people.

The following year, an additional 240 Sioux lodges sought asylum in Canada. The bands were under the leadership of Little Hawk and Fools Heart. The arrival of more Sioux in Saskatchewan was of great concern to the Canadian tribes, such as the Cree, Blackfeet, Piegan, and Blood, who had been enemies of the Sioux. It was the task of the Mounted Police to maintain the peace.

In 1880, Major James Walsh, the Northwest Mounted Police officer who had been dealing with Sitting Bull’s Sioux was reassigned. N.F. Cozier replaced him and began to pressure the Sioux to return to the United States. He persuaded the young Sans Arc Sioux leader White Eagle of the futility of staying in Canada.

The Sioux leader Gall was the first to lead his people back to the United States. In 1880, Gall led his people south into Montana to the Poplar River Agency (now the Fort Peck Reservation). They camped in a wooded site across from the agency. Gall’s band was soon joined by a Sans Arc band under the leadership of Spotted Eagle. This increased their camp from 38 lodges to 73 lodges. In response to the gathering of these “hostile” Sioux bands, the army sent a force of 400 soldiers from Fort Keogh under the command of Major Ilges.

It is interesting to note that when the Sioux entered Canada, they were met by a single police officer who was successful in maintaining the peace. In the U.S., the Sioux were met with a show of overpowering military force.

Gall took the initiative and asked for a council with the major. In this council, Gall indicated that he was reluctant to give up his old way of life. While the major lacked specific instructions on dealing with Gall, he insisted that Gall and his people were going to move to Fort Buford in three days. Gall explained that he could not surrender because to do so would be to face certain starvation. While surrendering to the army might have provided the Sioux with rations, Gall did not trust the army and would rather risk starvation as a free man. He was aware that the Sioux and Assiniboine at the Fort Peck Agency were destitute and that starving Indians refused to live there.

Following the council with Gall, the Sioux warrior Crow then requested a council with the major. Crow and his warriors made it clear to the major that Sitting Bull was their chief and that they were going to wait to see what Sitting Bull was going to do.

In 1881, Army troops with three-inch Rodman guns prepared to attack the Sioux camps of Gall and Crow King near the Poplar River Agency. The soldiers crossed the frozen Missouri River and found one camp with 32 lodges that was almost deserted. A short time later they reached Gall’s camp of 40 lodges and found it deserted. In what was later called the “Battle of Poplar River,” the Army bombarded the Sioux villages with artillery fire. Soon, the Sioux began to trickle out of the thickets to surrender. The term “battle” is perhaps a misnomer for this encounter.

In spite of deep snow and bitter cold, the Army marched the three hundred captives-men, women, and children-to Fort Buford in North Dakota. The walk took four days.

Sioux leader Low Dog and 20 lodges of his people surrendered at Fort Buford. They were shipped by steamboat to Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.

A few months later, Sitting Bull and 187 members of his Lakota Sioux band returned south and surrendered to United States authorities at Fort Buford. When they boarded the steamer at Fort Buford, they believed they were going to be taken to Fort Yates near the Standing Rock Reservation so that they could be reunited with their families. At Fort Yates, however, they were told that they were to be transported to Fort Randall where they were to be confined as prisoners. The army was afraid that Sitting Bull would stir up trouble among the Indians at the agency. They spent 20 months at Fort Randall and were then allowed to return to the Standing Rock Agency.

Sitting Bull 1

Thus in 1881, most of the Sioux refugees had returned to the United States and surrendered to the American army. The old hunting way of life was now over and the Sioux would have to settle down to life on the reservation.

Sitting Bull 2

Sitting Bull Was Right (HBO’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee)

( – promoted by navajo)

Photobucket

http://digilander.libero.it/Bo…

Historical revisionists of American Indian history portray indigenous people being as violent as white Europeans were before they arrived on this continent and after settlement. Consequently, HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” was no exception in the scene with Sitting Bull and Col Nelson Miles on the Buffalo Robe, as Miles justified the genocide he was committing as “You were as violent as we are, we’re doing the same thing to you that you did to them (paraphrasing).”



Source

Miles challenges Sitting Bull’s account of the Lakota people as champions of the plains. “The proposition that you were a peaceable people before the appearance of the white man is the most fanciful legend of all. You conquered those tribes, lusting for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.” Sitting Bull exclaims, “This is your story of my people!” Miles responds, “This is the truth, not legend.”

(Reposted due to “General Miles Blows Off Indian Myths” – “The best scene of ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ (2007). General Nelson Miles gives a history lesson to Sioux Chief Sitting Bull. http://www.custerwest.org”)

This is the truth, not historical revisionism. There are general and specific reasons why Sitting Bull was right. To get the answers as to why, we turn to the scholarship of James Demeo. First, we’ll look at his conclusions to get the general overview.


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 150 – 151

Conclusions

This evidence, drawn from history, archeology, and anthropology, speaks clearly: The New World prior to Columbus was a far less violent place than the Old World. And it can be argued that, in spite of many terrible events which followed after Columbus, the New World remained a less violent place all the way down through the centuries because of its geographical isolation from the more violent Saharasian empires…This summary suggests the general vindication of the vast majority of Native American values and peoples as standing on the peace – making side of history. Certainly, not all Indigenous American cultures fit the peaceful images given in Dances with Wolves, but it is not an exaggeration to say that the majority did.

To go to the specifics, we’ll go to page 148 of his essay under the heading “Archeological Evaluations.” This is number 3 of a list of 9 in which other listings are of Michigan, Illinois, and Southern California to list three of them.


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 148

3. South Dakota, Crow Creek, c. 1300 C.E. Site of a tribal massacre of around 500 men, women, and children, but with a deficit of reproductive – age females.15


Source

At least fifty Middle Plains Woodland skeletons and the Crow Creek massacre mass burial bones have been examined. A few Siouan skeletons from various places have been evaluated. A significant number of bones came from skeletons for which there was little or no provenience. The oldest human remnants we have seen from South Dakota (carbon dated 3,800 BP +/- 110 years) were 16 incomplete skeletons from the Hilde Gravel Pit near Lake Madison (161,162). The Middle Plains Woodland skeletons, the Crow Creek villagers (probably proto-Arikara) (361) and the Hilde Gravel Pit skeletons are pre-Columbian; those in museums, private collections, and salvage archaeology skeletons are primarily post-Columbian.


Source

Who Carried Out the Massacre and Why?:
We cannot know for certain. Several explanations are possible. One is that it was some outside group, perhaps displaced Middle Missouri villagers from the north. Another suggests that some distant group from the east or west came through the area and massacred the villagers. Though neither can be ruled out, some problems suggest that it would have been difficult to do due to villages size, protection, and the fact that relatives lived in villages nearby.

Another explanation suggests that overpopulation combined with climatic instability caused competition for arable land. The massacre may have been carried out by one or several allied villages of the same culture. Evidence of malnutrition in the paleopathology suggests part of the hypothesis could be true. Computer simulation suggests that the hypothesis is feasible.

So, the only possible evidence, simply because of its location, does not at all justify “You conquered those tribes, lusting for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.”

In addition, just above the “Archeological Evaluations” is stated:


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 148

Even the most aggressive and warlike of the Native American empire – building  cultures (i. e., the Aztecs) never came close to the systematic murder and destruction seen at the hands of various Saharasian butcher – kings (e. g., Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse – Dung, Pol Pot, ect.). In fact, the overwhelming percentage of New World Peoples, even after all the trauma and destruction which followed Columbus,  maintained significant elements of their peace – oriented matristic cultures, all the way into the 1800’s.

Dick Wolf states in the 2007 edition of Cowboys and Indians about the movie, “The reason Law & Order has been on for 17 years is that it tries to point out on a weekly basis that the world is in shades of gray.” Perhaps this is why a friend of mine thought Col Miles was right: Wolf’s innovative use of “gray.” Never does Wolf use his “shades of gray” to distort the moral line when it pertains to rape, murder, or theft. A rapist, a murderer, and a thief are always clearly on the wrong side of the law. Never have I heard an officer say, “She deserved it, they had it coming, or they shouldn’t leave their stuff lying around where someone can steal it.” To the contrary,  his “shades of gray” that I have seen in Law & Order  pertain to trying the case, where after the trial the one clearly on the wrong side of the law may go free as a result of politics or loopholes in legislation. Why Wolf didn’t do the same with Sitting Bull and Col Miles in the movie I don’t know, but I do know this – Sitting Bull was right. And, there are no “shades of gray” when it’s about genocide.


Sitting Bull

“The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it.”

Sitting Bull Was Right: “This is your story of my people!” (HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”)

( – promoted by navajo)

Photobucket

http://digilander.libero.it/Bo…

Historical revisionists of American Indian history portray indigenous people being as violent as white Europeans were before they arrived on this continent and after settlement. Consequently, HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” was no exception in the scene with Sitting Bull and Col Nelson Miles on the Buffalo Robe, as Miles justified the genocide he was committing as “You were as violent as we are, we’re doing the same thing to you that you did to them (paraphrasing).”


Source

Miles challenges Sitting Bull’s account of the Lakota people as champions of the plains. “The proposition that you were a peaceable people before the appearance of the white man is the most fanciful legend of all. You conquered those tribes, lusting for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.” Sitting Bull exclaims, “This is your story of my people!” Miles responds, “This is the truth, not legend.”

This is the truth, not historical revisionism. There are general and specific reasons why Sitting Bull was right. To get the answers as to why, we turn to the scholarship of James Demeo. First, we’ll look at his conclusions to get the general overview.


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 150 – 151

Conclusions

This evidence, drawn from history, archeology, and anthropology, speaks clearly: The New World prior to Columbus was a far less violent place than the Old World. And it can be argued that, in spite of many terrible events which followed after Columbus, the New World remained a less violent place all the way down through the centuries because of its geographical isolation from the more violent Saharasian empires…This summary suggests the general vindication of the vast majority of Native American values and peoples as standing on the peace – making side of history. Certainly, not all Indigenous American cultures fit the peaceful images given in Dances with Wolves, but it is not an exaggeration to say that the majority did.

To go to the specifics, we’ll go to page 148 of his essay under the heading “Archeological Evaluations.” This is number 3 of a list of 9 in which other listings are of Michigan, Illinois, and Southern California to list three of them.


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 148

3. South Dakota, Crow Creek, c. 1300 C.E. Site of a tribal massacre of around 500 men, women, and children, but with a deficit of reproductive – age females.15


Source

At least fifty Middle Plains Woodland skeletons and the Crow Creek massacre mass burial bones have been examined. A few Siouan skeletons from various places have been evaluated. A significant number of bones came from skeletons for which there was little or no provenience. The oldest human remnants we have seen from South Dakota (carbon dated 3,800 BP +/- 110 years) were 16 incomplete skeletons from the Hilde Gravel Pit near Lake Madison (161,162). The Middle Plains Woodland skeletons, the Crow Creek villagers (probably proto-Arikara) (361) and the Hilde Gravel Pit skeletons are pre-Columbian; those in museums, private collections, and salvage archaeology skeletons are primarily post-Columbian.


Source

Who Carried Out the Massacre and Why?:
We cannot know for certain. Several explanations are possible. One is that it was some outside group, perhaps displaced Middle Missouri villagers from the north. Another suggests that some distant group from the east or west came through the area and massacred the villagers. Though neither can be ruled out, some problems suggest that it would have been difficult to do due to villages size, protection, and the fact that relatives lived in villages nearby.

Another explanation suggests that overpopulation combined with climatic instability caused competition for arable land. The massacre may have been carried out by one or several allied villages of the same culture. Evidence of malnutrition in the paleopathology suggests part of the hypothesis could be true. Computer simulation suggests that the hypothesis is feasible.

So, the only possible evidence, simply because of its location, does not at all justify “You conquered those tribes, lusting for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.”

In addition, just above the “Archeological Evaluations” is stated:


Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Peaceful verses Warlike Societies” essay by James Demeo. p. 148

Even the most aggressive and warlike of the Native American empire – building  cultures (i. e., the Aztecs) never came close to the systematic murder and destruction seen at the hands of various Saharasian butcher – kings (e. g., Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse – Dung, Pol Pot, ect.). In fact, the overwhelming percentage of New World Peoples, even after all the trauma and destruction which followed Columbus,  maintained significant elements of their peace – oriented matristic cultures, all the way into the 1800’s.

Dick Wolf states in the 2007 edition of Cowboys and Indians about the movie, “The reason Law & Order has been on for 17 years is that it tries to point out on a weekly basis that the world is in shades of gray.” Perhaps this is why a friend of mine thought Col Miles was right: Wolf’s innovative use of “gray.” Never does Wolf use his “shades of gray” to distort the moral line when it pertains to rape, murder, or theft. A rapist, a murderer, and a thief are always clearly on the wrong side of the law. Never have I heard an officer say, “She deserved it, they had it coming, or they shouldn’t leave their stuff lying around where someone can steal it.” To the contrary,  his “shades of gray” that I have seen in Law & Order  pertain to trying the case, where after the trial the one clearly on the wrong side of the law may go free as a result of politics or loopholes in legislation. Why Wolf didn’t do the same with Sitting Bull and Col Miles in the movie I don’t know, but I do know this – Sitting Bull was right. And, there are no “shades of gray” when it’s about genocide.

To conclude, there’s nothing like a protest to bring these racists’ and revisionists’ ideas out in the open. BTW, the sign that I saw said “Dawes Commission + land run = Genocide
(wasn’t mine, but that’s what it said).”

Notice the framing the commenter uses, not knowing that “the vast majority of Native American values and peoples (are on) as standing on the peace – making side of history,” and what an excuse it makes for them to be racist.

(video and definition added)


‘We’re part of Oklahoma history’

Jubilation and outrage marked festivities at an American Indian parade Saturday in downtown Oklahoma City.

The Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Traditions hosted the parade, which kicked off about 9 a.m. at the corner of Reno and S Hudson avenues.

– snip –

Others walked the length of the parade carrying handmade signs bearing slogans such as “Frybread Power” and “Dawes Commission + land run = organized theft.”

(The youth in the beginning are stickball players, which is an ancient game that southeastern American Indians called the “little brother to war.” Requiring many of the same skills and rituals as war, stickball historically settled disputes between towns and sometimes between tribes.)

(from comments)

“You were here FIRST and they RAN over you,” is CUTE, plus it’s clever revisionist history. Wouldn’t it be closer to the truth to say someone was here before the current Indian residents and the current Indian residents either knocked politely on their doors and requested entrance or the current Indian residents trampled, beat, stole, pillaged, razed, shackled and raped them to get THEIRS? Will we get that depiction in your revised history of the American Indian? When the “Great White Father in Washington” moved you from your homelands in Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, etc., and “gave” you land in Oklahoma, didn’t someone else have to be moved off YOUR new land? Will your “true” depiction incorporate what happened to those the current Indidan residents displaced? So much for INDIGENOUS. DOUBLED. You also bought and sold other human beings the way you buy and sell “frybread.” Power up that depiction in your history of the American Indian, o truth seekers.

I’ll say it again, Sitting Bull was right.


Sitting Bull

“The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it.”