Yep a little slice of American history that most young people have NO idea ever occurred.
50 years ago last month the Native Americans started their protest at Wounded Knee, the site of a US cavalry massacre of American natives….
The 1973 Siege at Wounded Knee is the longest “civil unrest” in the history of the US Marshal Service. For 71 days, the American Indian Movement (AIM) and members of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) nation were under siege in a violent standoff with the FBI and US Marshals equipped with high powered rifles and armored personnel carriers. Two people were killed, over two dozen wounded. At stake, sovereignty and self-determination guaranteed through treaty rights.
Fifty years have passed but for American Indians the struggle for recognition of the nation-to-nation treaties continues to be seen as survival. At the end of February, young Indian leaders joined older activists to gather at Wounded Knee to commemorate the violent events that began on February 27, 1973, and renew their call for self-determination and recognition of their treaties.
For older Wounded Knee veterans, this Fiftieth Anniversary year is a time for a ritual passing on of the struggle. “You are the seventh generation. It’s your time to stand up and protect your water, defend your land,” proclaimed Vic Camp, son of Wounded Knee AIM leader Carter Camp, “Remember your treaty rights, protect those treaties . . . we have to remind the United States government that this is our land.”
Bill Means, a veteran of the 1973 siege urged people to be clear on the purpose, “Remember, we came here for the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty. We didn’t come here just to raise hell. We had to make a statement, to tell the world that Indians are still alive, that this is still our land, and the Black Hills are not for sale!”
For the Lakota this fight for self-determination, the preservation of their nation and its land, were the central demands of the siege at Wounded Knee. It was a fight for survival. During the negotiations in 1973 the local Oglala leaders were frustrated with the Justice Department’s refusal to grasp the central issue of the Treaty. Gladys Bissonette, a revered Oglala elder admonished the Government negotiators, “In the past there were a lot of violations of the sacred treaties . . . This is real. We’re not playing here. So all you people that go back to Washington, think real good, because our lives are at stake. It concerns our children’s children, the unborn.”
Much has been written about the aftermath of the 1973 siege, including the murders of 60 AIM sympathizers and activists in the following year, known as the Reign of Terror, carried out by a local vigilante group self-titled “Goons” (Guardians of the Oglala Nation). U.S. District Court Judge Fred Nichols viewed this as the FBI colluding with vigilantes to target AIM sympathizers. The continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier despite universal calls for clemency – even by the prosecutor – demonstrates the truth of the FBI’s intent to eliminate Indian activists even at the cost of truth.
Siege at Wounded Knee 50 Years Later: the Fight for Self-Determination Continues
I remember those days and thinking ahead…..the Native Americans are still trying to gain some sort of respect from this government and the nation at large….slow go and little has changed…..they still do not get the respect they deserve from either the government or the nation at large.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”