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Wounded Knee in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Massacre of Wounded Knee

 
 
Massacre of Wounded Knee Marker (front) image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, July 2003
1. Massacre of Wounded Knee Marker (front)
Inscription. [Front side]:
Dec. 29, 1890, Chief Big Foot, with his Minneconjou and Hunkpapa Sioux Band of 108 warriors, 250 women and children were encamped on this Flat, surrounded by the U.S. 7th Cavalry (470 soldiers) commanded by Col. Forsythe.

The "Messiah Craze" possessed many Indians, who left the vicinity of Ind. Agencies to "Ghost Dance" during the summer and fall of 1890. "Unrest" on the Pine Ridge Reservation was partly due to the reduction of beef rations by Congress, and to the "Ghost Dancing" of Chiefs Sitting Bull, Hump, Big Foot, Kicking Bear, and Short Bull. The Sioux were told by Kicking Bear and Short Bull that by wearing "Ghost Shirts" the ghost dancing warriors would become immune to the whiteman's bullets and could openly defy the soldiers and White settlers, and bring back the old days of the big buffalo herds.

On Nov. 15, 1890, Indian Agent Royer (Lakota Wakakpaj) at Pine Ridge called for troops, and by Dec. 1, 1890, several thousand U.S. Regulars were assembled in this area of Dakota Territory.

On Dec. 15, 1890, Chief Sitting Bull was killed by Lt. Bullhead of the Standing Rock Indian Police. Forty of Sitting Bull's braves escaped from Grand River, and joined Chief Big Foot's band on Deep Creek to camp and "Ghost Dance" on the south fork of the Cheyenne River. Chief Big Foot was under
<i>The Opening of the Fight at Wounded Knee</i> image. Click for full size.
By Frederic Remington, January 24, 1891
2. The Opening of the Fight at Wounded Knee
Harper's weekly, 1891 Jan. 24, p. 65., courtesy of the Library of Congress.
close scrutiny of Lt. Col. Sumner and this troops, and on Dec. 23, 1890, they were ordered to arrest Big Foot as a hostile. However, the Big Foot band had already silently slipped away from the Cheyenne county, into the Badlands, heading for Pine Ridge.

On Dec. 28, 1890, without a struggle, Chief Big Foot surrendered to the U.S. 7th Cavalry (Maj. Whitesides) at the site marked by a sign five miles north of here. The Band was then escorted to Wounded Knee, camping that night under guard.

Reenforcements of the U.S. 7th Cavalry (including one company of Indian Scouts) arrived at Wounded Knee from Pine Ridge Agency the morning of Dec. 29, 1890. Col. Forsythe took command of a force of 470 men. A battery of four Hotchkiss guns was placed on the hill 400 feet west of here, overlooking the Indian encampment. Big Foot's Band was encircled at (OVER)

[Back side]:
(CONTINUED)
9:00 p.m. by a line of foot soldiers and cavalry. Chief Big Foot, sick with pneumonia, lay at a warmed tent provided by Col. Forsythe in the center of the camp. A white flag flew there, placed by the Indians. Directly in the rear of the Indian Camp was a dry draw, running east and west.

The Indians were ordered to surrender their arms before proceeding to Pine Ridge. Capt. Wallace, with an Army detail, began searching the teepees for hidden weapons. During this excitement,
<i>Big Foot's camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre </i> image. Click for full size.
By Trager and Kuhn, 1891
3. Big Foot's camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre
Full title provided by the Library of Congress is: Big Foot's camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre (Dec. 29, 1890), with bodies of several Lakota Sioux people wrapped in blankets in the foreground and U.S. soldiers in the background.
Yellow Bird, a medicine man, walked among the braves blowing on an eaglebone whistle, inciting the warriors to action, declaring that the "Ghost Shirt" worn by the warriors would protect them from the soldier's bullets. A shot was fired, and all hell broke loose. The troops fired a deadly volley into the Council warriors, killing nearly half of them. A bloody hand-to-hand struggle followed, all the more desperate since the Indians were armed mostly with clubs, knives and revolvers. The Hotchkiss guns fired 2-pound explosive shells on the groups, indiscriminately killing warriors, women, children and their own disarming soldiers. Soldiers were killed by cross-fire of their comrades in this desperate engagement.

Surviving Indians stampeded in wild disorder for the shelter of the draw 200 feet to the south, escaping west and east in the draw, and north down Wounded Knee Creek. Pursuit by the 7th Cavalry resulted in the killing of more men, women and children, causing the battle to be referred to as the "Wounded Knee Massacre". One hour later, 146 Indian, women and children lay dead in the Wounded Knee Creek valley. The bodies of many were scattered along a distance of two miles from the scene of the encounter. Twenty soldiers were killed on the field, and sixteen later died of wounds. Wounded soldiers and Indians alike were taken to Pine Ridge Agency. A blizzard came up.
<i>Big Foot, chief of the Bules [sic] taken at the Battle of Wounded Knee, S.D.</i> image. Click for full size.
By Trager and Kuhn, 1891
4. Big Foot, chief of the Bules [sic] taken at the Battle of Wounded Knee, S.D.
Body of Spotted Elk, chief of the Miniconjou, Lakota Sioux, lying in snow, after the Massacre at Wounded Knee, S.D., Dec. 29, 1890. - Library of Congress
Four days later, an Army detail gathered up the Indian dead and buried them in a common grave at the top of the hill northwest of here. A monument marks this grave.

"Ghost Dancing" ended with this encounter. The Wounded Knee battlefield is the site of the last armed conflict between the Sioux Indians and the United States Army.
 
Location. 43° 8.991′ N, 102° 20.959′ W. Marker is in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in Oglala Lakota County. Marker is on an unnamed extension off Big Foot Trail 0.1 miles north of Big Foot Trail and Mouse Creek Road, in the median. Click for map. The marker is on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Marker is in this post office area: Batesland SD 57716, United States of America.
 
More about this marker. The marker's title has apparently been altered. Initially, it read "'Battle' of Wounded Knee," and it shows signs of extensive vandalism over the years--bullet holes and other damage. Since the 1970s, the marker site has been a stage for American Indian Movement demonstrations and occasionally violent confrontations with federal authorities.
 
Regarding Massacre of Wounded Knee. Credits on the marker's bottom front read:
Delineator - Irving P. Pond and Herbert H. Clifford
By - Stanley S. Walker, Sup. Highway Engr.
Reprinted
<i>Birds-eye View of Canyon at Wounded Knee, S.D.</i> image. Click for full size.
By Trager and Kuhn, 1891
5. Birds-eye View of Canyon at Wounded Knee, S.D.
Image, courtesy of the Library of Congress, showing the aftermath of the massacre, with bodies strewn along the canyon.
by Stacey and John Stewart, 5-5-95
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. (Submitted on April 12, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Wikipedia entry for the Wounded Knee Massacre. (Submitted on April 12, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Photos by Phil Konstantin, 2003. Includes pictures of the Wounded Knee Cemetery and various markers on the Pine Ridge Agency. (Submitted on April 12, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.) 

4. The Wounded Knee Museum. (Submitted on April 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
5. Rescue at Pine Ridge. This book, by Erich Martin Hicks, depicts the gallantry and spirit of the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers during their heroic rescue of the 7th Cavalry on the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. (Submitted on October 2, 2009, by Erich Martin Hicks of Woodland Hills, California.) 
 
Additional keywords. 9th U.S. Cavalry.
 
Categories. LandmarksNative AmericansNotable EventsWars, US Indian
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 5,579 times since then and 137 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on . • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Text readable photo of marker reverse and a wide shot of marker and surroundings. • Can you help?
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