Well today marks the 40th Anniversary of the Wounded Knee Stand Off and it comes close to the recent death of one of the events major players, Russell Means. Means is today remembered more for his role in Last of the Mohegan’s than for the 71 day stand off arranged by AIM (The American Indian Movement.)
The incident began February 27, 1973 when about 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of AIM seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The grassroots protest followed the failure of their effort to impeach the elected tribal president Richard Wilson
The story however dates back to December of 1890 when 290 women, babies, children, old people and a handful of warriors were massacred by the 7th Calvery. Yes massacred. The 25 to 30 service members were for the most part killed by friendly fire as the Indians had been rounded up and fired upon by the troops after one Native American struggled with a soldier for his gun and it went off!
History seems to like to forget things like our total lack of concern for the people who originally lived and owned this land called the United States of America.
Today we need to look back to our past to understand how we can improve the future…a future that must deal with immigration, drug wars, religious inequity, and civil rights abuse. People today are just as angry as that one brave who did not want to give up his rifle… a rifle that was his only means to provide meat and fur and protections for his family.
The other thing is that it brought back to me back to one of my greatest peeves that I bitch about frequently during dinner parties when we talk about Madison County history... I hate it that we seem to only embrace and promote the bad guys in good guy clothing as our major history players...celebrating them... rather than the wonderful people who actually did change history from Madison county.
Yes I mean the likes of Gerrit Smith whose good side rallied against slavery, but whose bad side funded and knew of the treasonous acts of a crazy zealot named John Brown. What about Noyes founder of the Oneida Community…his good works founded a community business that flourished for a long while in the area ...his questionable side a “Perfectionist “ leader…who still practiced and condoned the sexual predatory nature of so called “Religious Leaders”? Then of course there is L Frank Baum of Wizard of Oz fame?
L Frank Baum is a man we celebrate for his Wizard of Oz children’s books…but what about his roll in the "Massacre of Wounded Knee"… Yes, the children’s book writer was once the editor of a newspaper that advocated through “his editorials” the extinction of Natives Americans that precipitated the Massacre at Wounded Knee!
In the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. A week or so before the massacre of the Lakota at Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, Baum "urged the wholesale extermination of all America's native peoples." Baum's words:
"The nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. 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. Why not annihilation? Their glory fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they should die than live the miserable wretches they are."
After news of this mass murder was circulated, L. Frank Baum crowed: "We had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up ... and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."
What Happened At Wounded Knee?
What followed next can perhaps best be told by the Commanding General, Nelson A. Miles:
General Miles : "I was in command of that Department in 1889, 1890 and 1891, when what is known as the Messiah Craze and threatened uprising of the Indians occurred...the Indians had been in almost a starving condition in South Dakota, owing to the scarcity of rations and the nonfulfillment of treaties and sacred obligations under which the Government had been placed to the Indians, caused great dissatisfaction, dissension and almost hostility...During this time the tribe, under Big Foot, moved from their reservation to near Red Cloud Agency in South Dakota under a flag of truce. They numbered over four hundred souls. They were intercepted by a command under Lt. Col. Whitside, who demanded their surrender, which they complied with, and moved that afternoon some two or three miles and camped where they were directed to do, near the camp of the troops."
General Miles :"During the night Colonel Forsyth joined the command with reinforcements of several troops of the 7th calvalry. The next morning he deployed his troops around the camp, placed two pieces of artillery in position, and demanded the surrender of the arms of the warriors. This was complied with by the warriors going out from camp and placing the arms on the ground where they were directed. Chief Big Foot, an old man, sick at the time and unable to walk, was taken out of a wagon and laid on the ground."
General Miles :While this was being done a detachment of soldiers was sent into the camp to search for any arms remaining there, and it was reported that their rudeness frightened the women and children. It is also reported that a remark was made by some one of the soldiers that "when we get the arms away from them we can do as we please with them," indicating that they were to be destroyed. Some of the Indians could understand English. This and other things alarmed the Indians and [a] scuffle occurred between one warrior who had [a] rifle in his hand and two soldiers. The rifle was discharged and a massacre occurred, not only the warriors but the sick Chief Big Foot, and a large number of women and children who tried to escape by running and scattering over the prairie were hunted down and killed."
Fast forward to Modern times..
A festival was to be held in 1990’s in Aberdeen to address past issues and a document was submitted that in part reads thus:
We Apologize We apologize to the Lakota people for the part that our community and nation played in the killing of their relatives.
We Apologize In as much that as] residents of Aberdeen, some of us are descendants of settlers who lived in Aberdeen at the time of the Wounded Knee massacre and who read L. Frank Baum's editorials and made no protest against them as far as we know; As residents of the state in which the massacre took place; as residents of a nation in which, according to Sen. Tom Daeschle (1993), the Congress apologized to the Sioux people for the 1890 Massacre in Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 153 of the 101st Congress.
A question remains….why would someone who believed in genocide.. so dark and ..evil turn to writing children’s books ….Truthfully there are tons of theories…the one I pick is ...this:
“The energy created from the opposition is ‘given’ to both sides equally” (“Jung”), which is explained in the “Carl Jung” web page. Each of these characters feed off of each other with their desire to make it to the Emerald City. The third principle, the principle of entropy, is seen through the image that the Wizard puts up for himself, and his actual personality. “This is the tendency for oppositions to come together, and so for energy to decrease, over a person’s lifetime” (“Jung”). The image that the Wizard tries to fool everyone with is the total opposite than that of his true identity. At the end of the story, since his true identity is revealed, these opposite images even each other out.
Here is a good video based on fact…
Some links for more information....
Some links for more information....
Read the book - American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World by David E. Stannard