Native American Headress



PART V The Last Battle: Wounded Knee

   "Saddam has used chemical weapons against his enemies," Clinton said, "and against his own people." CNN 11/14/97.

   "Of all the forms of murder, none is more monstrous than that committed by a state against its own citizens . . . .

    "'The homicidal state shares one trait with the solitary killer--like all murderers, it trips on its own egoism and drops a trail of clues which, when properly collected, preserved, and analyzed are as damning as a signed confession left in the grave.' --Forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, speaking before the May, 1984 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He used his skills to expose the atrocities committed by governments. (Quoted by Christopher Joyce and Eric Stover in Witnesses from the Grave, pg. 217)." Taken from the Waco Electronic Museum.

    The Battle at Wounded Knee has been called the final Native American battle. It was not the last because there were battles fought after it. There was the 1913 Navajo war in New Mexico and the 1915 Paiute war in Colorado. It was not the bloodiest in terms of number slain, neither was it greater in atrocities because of the manner in which it was done. What makes the battle the last was the finality it brought to all Native American dreams. It brings all the pieces of the Native American tragedy together. At Wounded Knee we see every avenue brought to bear with cruel, devastating force upon the red man. By understanding the Native American's story, in terms of weapons of mass destruction, a larger picture begins to develop.

The Press

    Ten days before the massacre the editor of the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer named L. Frank Baum, later the famous author of The Wizard of Oz, urged the extermination of all Native Americans. He wrote, "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." Baum continues his policy of destruction towards the Native American re-enforcing their death when he penned, "Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they should die than live miserable wretches that they are." A week-and- a-half later, Sioux blood would stain the snow-covered ground of Wounded Knee a crimson red. Baum expressed his approval of the slaughter later by saying, "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." (18) The war of the press continued unabated against an already dying people.

    What Baum didn't know about the Native Americans was that their vision was actually being sharpened by a prediction from Wovoka, a Paiute messiah. The battle at Wounded Knee brought about the extermination, not of a race, but a dream of victory. After Wounded Knee he could have written that their spirit was broken, not before.

A Treaty Broken - Again

    Just before the time of Wounded Knee, the Teton Sioux had lost the Powder River country and the Black Hills to those seeking gold. They had been given a Great Sioux reservation of about 35,000 square miles. Chief Red Cloud's Oglalas settled at the reservation of Wazi Ahanhan, Pine Ridge. The Oglalas made permanent camps along the Yellow Medicine, Porcupine Tail, and Wounded Knee creeks that flowed into the White River. The Brules, led by Spotted Tail, settled along the White River at the Rosebud agency. For the other four tribes the Lower Brule, the Crow Creek, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock agencies were created. With increased clamoring for cheap lands and the need to build roads across the Great Sioux reservation there was a push to break it into smaller pieces.

    After a couple of land grab failures, one in 1882 and another in 1886, officials in Washington convinced General George Crook in 1888 that if the Native Americans did not sell their land, it would be seized. He journeyed to the Great Sioux Reservation in May of 1889. Crook felt a degree of sympathy for the Native Americans but saw the handwriting on the wall for the Sioux. His main obstacle was Sitting Bull who would not save the government the embarrassment of breaking the treaty by selling. After a couple of failures to convince the Native Americans to sell in general councils with Sitting Bull present, he spoke to them individually trying to convince them that the land would be taken away if they did not sign. In a secretly guarded meeting with the commissioners on August 3rd, John Grass, the chief spokesman for the Standing Rock Sioux and the other chiefs, signed away the reservation. Sitting Bull broke in on the meeting saying he had not been informed of the meeting. Agent James McLaughlin lied by saying that he had been informed. At that point, Sitting Bull left without signing. As he left, a newspaper man asked him how the Native Americans felt about giving up their lands. Sitting Bull shouted, "There are no Indians left but me!" His words would prove prophetic for a small band of Minneconjous who would struggle to get to Pine Ridge. Another treaty had been broken by stealth. It could be called the last treaty. (2)

Religion Outlawed

    In October of 1890, about a year later, Sitting Bull sent for a Minneconjou Sioux from the Cheyenne River agency called Kicking Bear to hear of the prophecy of the Fish Eaters' (Paiutes) prophet, Wovoka. In 1889, during a solar eclipse, Wovoka had been taken off into a trance where he saw the buffalo return by the millions, the earth made fresh and new, and the white man was no longer. During his vision he saw Christ who told him the Native American could never wage war again. They could achieve the fulfillment of the vision by a slow dance that he taught him.

    After this, Kicking Bear traveled to Pyramid Lake in Nevada where he attended a congregation of hundreds of Native Americans from many different tribes. They were assembled to meet Jesus who was to appear to them. After Jesus appeared, they were surprised to see Him as a red man. They asked Him of this. He told them that in the beginning God made the earth. Then He sent Christ to teach the white man, but the white man had treated Him badly leaving scars on His body, so He ascended back to heaven. Now He was returning to earth as an Indian to renew the earth and make it like it was. He told them that the dead would be raised again, the buffalo would appear on the earth, the grass would be high again. The Native Americans who believed would be suspended high above the earth as the new world would be created below them, then, afterwards, they would settle back to the earth to be with their resurrected ancestors on the new earth. Christ, as a red man, taught them a dance to celebrate all these things. The white men feared the dance. When they asked the Native Americans what they were doing, they were told they were celebrating the resurrection of their dead, so the whites called it the Ghost Dance.

    The white man had no reason to fear, for Christ gave the Native Americans some rules to live by. The rules were very simple: "submit yourselves to the white man, he cannot hurt you, do not steal, do not drink alcohol, do not hurt anybody or do any harm to anyone. Do always right." The doctrine called for nonviolence and brotherly love. The doctrine called for them to only dance and sing, celebrating these events about to take place.

    When Kicking Bear told Sitting Bull of the vision, he made a fatal embellishment by adding that this was to be a glorious victory for the Native Americans. He said that in the war the Native Americans' clothes would turn to iron and the white man's weapons would not hurt them. This would prove to be a disastrous addition to what could have been a peaceful victory. (10) The Indians, if there were any retaliation, he said, would be protected by holy garments.

    White Hair James McLaughlin spoke against the Ghost Dance when he said, "A more pernicious system of religion could not have been offered to a people who stood on the threshold of civilization." He ordered a list of "fomenters of disturbances" to be drawn up. Thinking that Sitting Bull was the head of the Ghost Dance "fomentors," he was ordered arrested. On December 15, 1890 during the arrest a group of Native Americans tried to prevent Sitting Bull's unlawful seizure. During the fight Sitting Bull, who was also resisting the arrest, was assassinated by one of the Native American police.

The Indians are Disarmed While Surrounded by WMD

    Hearing of Sitting Bull's arrest, a Sioux chief named Big Foot, who was also on the list of disturbers, began moving his band to Pine Ridge hoping Red Cloud would protect them. During the march of 150 miles the weather dropped severely to subzero weather. (22) The group was poorly clothed and Big Foot developed pneumonia.

    On December 28 the small band was intercepted by the Seventh Cavalry led by Major Samuel Whitside. This Seventh Cavalry was the original from which Custer, fourteen years before, took five brigades that were wiped out at the Battle of Little Big Horn. These men well remembered the battle that had been labeled "Custer's last stand" by the press.

    Whitside ordered the Native Americans disarmed, but, fearing a fight where many would get away, he decided to wait until the horses could be seized first. That night Whitside mounted two Hotchkiss guns that could shoot shells for two miles on top of a rise strategically aimed so they could rake the village length. The rest of the Seventh Cavalry arrived during the night headed by Colonel James W. Forsyth. Two more Hotchkiss guns were placed in position and the Seventh Cavalry settled down with a keg of whiskey to celebrate the capture of Big Foot.

    The next day under a white flag in front of Big Foot's tent the Native Americans, while surrounded by Hotchkiss guns and under the watchful eye of a fully armed, warmly dressed cavalry, were ordered to surrender all their weapons. They surrendered them in a pile around the white flag. Not satisfied, the commanders ordered the soldiers to search the tents. (Not content with seven years of searching they went right into the presidential palaces). All axes, knives and even the tent stakes were piled up with the guns. (Every ounce of anthrax was found). Still not satisfied, the Native Americans were ordered to disrobe in the freezing weather and submit to body searches. Greatly angered, the Native Americans submitted, being held in restraint by the promise of protection by their belief in the rules of the Ghost Dance. "Do no one any harm." Their medicine man Yellow Bird made a few dancing steps and assured them again that they would be protected from the bullets by their holy garments. This was the false belief that Kicking Bird told them.

    Two more rifles were found. During the removal of the last gun a shot rang out. Some reports say the soldiers fired first. Some say the Native Americans fired first. The question that could be asked is - how could the Native Americans have fired first? They had no weapons!

    One of the Native American survivors, speaking of the second shot, said that it was very loud, sounding like a tearing sound. It was probably a Hotchkiss shell tearing through several tepees. An immediate volley ensued from the cavalry upon the helpless women, children and unarmed men.

    The Seventh Cavalry lashed out with the Hotchkiss guns and with all the fury they could muster in their hung-over state from the previous night's drunken bash. During the fight that followed, 300 men, women and Minneconjou children were killed. Since the Native Americans were unarmed, they could only flee. Some ran as far as two miles away where they were chased down and shot.

    Fifty- one survivors (four men and 47 women and children) were loaded into buckboards like cord wood and hauled to the Pine Ridge barracks during an approaching blizzard. The rest were left to freeze or die from wounds inflicted.

    Because it was dark and the barracks were filled with soldiers, they were left in the wagons in the bitter cold while shelter was sought. Finally, the Episcopalian church was opened up. The pews were removed, straw was scattered over the floor and under a banner that read, "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men," the wounded were unloaded. An army surgeon who had been through the Civil War upon seeing the carnage in the church, remarked that he had never seen women and children so shot up.

    The Seventh Cavalry lost twenty-five with thirty-nine wounded. The soldiers were reportedly struck by their own bullets or shrapnel. Most likely, by the hangover from the previous night's kegger.

Great Honor to the Victorious

    "You can tell the character of a nation by the people that nation honors." John Kennedy

    Twenty Congressional Medals of Honor were issued to the 7th Cavalry for their gallantry in killing 300 unarmed men, women and children.

    Paul H.Weinert, a corporal with the First U.S. Artillery Battery E who was awarded a congressional medal of Honor for advancing with the Hotchkiss gun into a ravine in pursuit of women and children, later commented: "I expected a court martial, but what was my surprise when gruff old Allyn Capron, my captain, came up to me and grasped me by the shoulders and said to the officers and men: 'That's the kind of men I have in my battery.'" The comments others gave of Weinert's expertise were, "With his gun less than 300 yards away Weinert's firing inflicted terrible damage, undoubtedly killing and wounding many women and children." "...The bursting artillery rounds churned up the earth and caved in banks. ...A Hotchkiss shell punched a six-inch hole in the middle of a man's stomach. Up and down the ravine the people sang death songs...." The report continues, "An occasional shot came from the teepees. To stop this, the battery raked the Minneconjou camp from one end to the other. Flying shrapnel shredded the lodges and sought out every living thing." "...Later in the decade Weinert, adorned with his Medal of Honor, toured with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show as a member of its color guard." (6)

A Broken Spirit

    A Sioux brave by the name of Black Elk, commenting on the outcome of Wounded Knee, later sadly said, "I did not know then how much had ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young." Then Black Elk tells what was really killed during this last battle that made it so final, "And I can see something else died there in the bloody mud and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream." What died at Wounded Knee was the hope, of a nation, that was living in an endless hell, to see justice prevail. A hope that their old way of life would be recaptured, that the white man's slaughter would end and that paradise would be theirs with their ancestors who had died before, was was buried in the misery of those who survived. Many felt there was no turning back the clock that ticked mercilessly onward spelling only certain doom. The war against the Native American's conscience had been finally won at Wounded Knee. Those whose hopes were killed, passed the legacy of a broken spirit to their children. Only a few may have kept the vision alive.

Brave New World

    This New World of America, hailed as the land of liberty, equality, freedom, prosperity and happiness, has been built on a monumental mountain of misery, blood, tears and broken promises that rises to heaven. It is not hard to read in current day events a similar fate that could await a small country ordered to surrender its weapons to a smiling face that says, let's make a treaty of "peace and safety." As the Native Americans had to undergo the humiliation of a forced search of tepees under the watchful, vengeful eye of the Hotchkiss guns and a body search, do we not see today a counterpart in Iraq? As the Native Americans had their national sovereignty violated, don't we see the same today with similar events here in the U.S. at Waco, Ruby Ridge and others? Has the U.S. learned from past transgressions with its own citizens? If we look at the fate of the Native Americans and their current situation, it is not hard to see the answer is a resounding, no!

    There was much to say about women's right to vote and the slavery of the Negroes, but the Native American was not even considered a citizen of the U.S. until 1924 and that took an act of congress when it passed the Curtis Bill! Even as late as 1964 the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi were required to pay a two dollar poll tax before they could vote. (12) That the Native American remains a broken people as a result of the holocaust can be found in the following statistics.

    The poverty rate on reservations is four times the national average and on some reservations five times greater. The suicide rate among fifteen to twenty-four year olds is 200% above the national average. Alcohol mortality is 900% higher among Native American males and 1,300% higher among females in the fifteen to twenty-four year old age group. The land the Native American held in 1890 by the time of the "last" of the Native American wars has been reduced to less than half of what it was just a short time before. Some of the lands since have been confiscated for underground nuclear testing. (18) In order to "improve" the Native American's quality of life, some reservations have been turned into giant garbage dumps for which they are "paid". Thus the Indian makes his living from garbage and radioactive soil. What a legacy for those who were once the owners of it all!

    The Sioux are trying to regain the Black Hills that was illegally seized and for which they have been declared "paid" by Congress when it awarded them 122 million dollars. They refuse to touch the money. They do not want the money, they simply want back what was stolen by treachery. The biggest problem with giving back to them the land would be the setting of a precedent for other tribes who stand right behind them with a another piece of paper, supposedly granting to them possession for "as long as the grass grows and the streams flow." Scripture has come true in America for the rivers of mercy and justice are flowing backward and the green grass (a flourishing people) has been burnt up. The Native American will never realize its dreams of independence. America has no notion of surrendering back to a conquered people what rightfully belongs to the victor.

    That the reservation lands still do not belong to the Native American, is proven by Supreme Court Justice O'Connor's comments after the Lyne Vs. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association decision in 1988. The court case came about because the Forest Service wanted to build a six-mile logging road through the "High Country" of the Yurok, Karok, and Tolowa tribes of California that they had held sacred for centuries. O'Connor said, ". . . the constitution simply does not provide a principle that could justify upholding respondents' legal claims. . . whatever rights the Indians may have to use of the area, however, those rights do not divest the government of its rights to use what is after all, its land. . . ." (6)

    What Senator John Easton stated, what Logan told Sitting Bull, what Ely Parker noted, are upheld and reinforced by O'Connor's decision. The names of the men may change, but the attack upon the individual consciences of others remains unchanged. The reason for the road was economic gain to the loggers. The reason remains the same. The old saying, "what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine", holds true through all of time to the conquerors of conscience.

History As Our Judge

    In 1864 Benito Juarez told Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, "It is given to men, Sir, to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to attempt the lives of those who defend their liberty, and to make of their virtues a crime and their own vices a virtue; but there is one thing which is beyond the reach of perversity, and that is the tremendous verdict of history. History will judge us." (14) If past history of the U.S. judges it correctly, we can read in it broken treaties to sovereign nations that to this day have not been kept. We see endless greed for power and wealth fueled by an unsatiable desire to control and dominate to the death, others less fortunate. We see weapons of mass destruction used to drive to extinction all who get in the way.

    The greater weapons of debt, forced taxation, forced religion, soul-destroying education and the current news media are not heralded and for good reason. The greater the weapon, the greater the need to hide it. What greater mask could one wear than one that has a smiling face of love that speaks, "Peace on Earth and Good Will to all Men." (2) The Native American's continuing travesty has set precedents that have continued from then until the present day. Sun Tzu, the ancient war guru of 500 BC, said - "The best way to win a war is to win it without fighting a battle."

    What better way could a relentless conqueror win a war than convince his enemy that he is on their side fighting for them, while secretly doing all in his power to bring them to total ruin. Even better would be the ability to get the "enemy" to support the conqueror with all their time, money and resources to hasten their own destruction.

     As we view the formation of the New World Order, we can easily see that the weapons of subjugation have not changed. We may see in the annihilation of the Native Americans the future for all the world. History is being repeated. The faces may change, the spirit remains the same.

    "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, [appeared to be gentle] and he spake as a dragon.. . . And decieveth them that dwell on the face of the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth; that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword and did live.

"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause [force] that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." Revelation 13:11,14,15.

Selected Bibliography:

  1. Bender and Leone, Christopher Columbus and His Legacy Opposing Viewpoints, Greenhaven Press, 1992.
  2. Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1970.
  3. Brown, William C., The Indian Side of the Story, C.W. Hill Printing Co., 1961.
  4. Costner and Wilson, 500 Nations, 1996.
  5. Deloria Jr., Vine, God is Red, Fulcrum Publishing, 1994.
  6. Dill, Jordan, To Shout into the Wind
  7. Dyer, Thomas G., Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.
  8. Emmitt, Robert, The Last War Trail; the Utes and the Settlement of Colorado, University of Oklahoma Press, 1954.
  9. Grossman, Zoltan
  10. Hahn, Elizabeth, The Blackfoot, Rourke Publications,1992.
  11. Home School Legal Defense Association
  12. Jackson, Helen Hunt, A Century of Dishonor, Harper and Brothers 1881, reprinted by Harper Torchbooks, 1965.
  13. Parry, Robert, Fooling America, William Morrow and Co., 1992.
  14. Peithmann, Irvin M. Broken Peace Pipes, Charles Thomas Publisher, 1964.
  15. Pevar, Stephan L., The Rights of Indians and Tribes, 2nd Edition, Southern Illinois University Press, 1992.
  16. Prucha, American Indian Policy in the Formative Years, Harvard Press, 1962.
  17. Report to the Joint Technical Warfare Committee on "Potentialities of Weapons of Biological Warfare During the Next Ten years", November 1945.
  18. Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press,1992.
  19. Stearn and Stearn, The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the American Indian, Boston: Humphries 1945.
  20. Stein, R. Conrad, The Story of Wounded Knee, Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, Inc., 1983.
  21. Stockel, Henrietta H., Special Projects Bibliographer, author of Survival of the Spirit: Chiricahua Apaches in Captivity , Univ. Nevada Press, 1993.
  22. The American Indians, The Reservations, Time-Life Books, 1995.
  23. Waco Electronic Museum

Written 03/19/98

Pattern for the New Order Part I
Manifest Destiny Part II
Educating the Indians Part III
Sand Creek Massacre, Religion Outlawed Part IV


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