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A day when innocents were butchered
Miniconjou Lakota Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot)
lies dead in the snow. 1826 - December 29, 1890

Quote from Chief Standing Bear

"Nothing the Great Mystery placed in the land of the Indian pleased the white man, and nothing escaped his transforming hand. Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life - that to him is an “unbroken wilderness.” But, because for the Lakota there was no wilderness, because nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly, Lakota philosophy was healthy - free from fear and dogmatism."

"And here I find the great distinction between the faith of the Indian and the white man. Indian faith sought the harmony of man with his surrounding; the other sought the dominance of his surrounding. In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while, in fearing, the other found need of conquest."

"For one man the world was full of beauty; for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world, there to become a creature of wings, half-man and half-bird. Forever one man directed his Mystery to change the world He had made; forever this man pleaded with Him to chastise the wicked ones; and forever he implored his God to send His light to earth. Small wonder this man could not understand the other. But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence."

.....Chief Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939), Chief of Oglala Sioux Tribe. He witnessed the slaughter of unarmed men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in 1890.

MASSACRE

WOUNDED KNEE, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA
DECEMBER 29, 1890

The following History Highlight, which irritated me greatly because of its inaccuracy, was published in the December 29, 2003 issue of the Halifax Herald:

"TODAY IN HISTORY"

"The last battle in the American Indian wars took place 113 years ago today, in 1890, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. About 350 half starved Sioux gathered on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a Ghost Dance, a religious ceremony in which they believed their dead would rise and lead them to good hunting grounds.

When the Sioux refused to hand over their weapons to the 7th Cavalry, the troops opened fire. About 150 Sioux, half of them women and children, and 25 soldiers died in the battle."

With the knowledge that the butchery that occurred that day could not be, by any stretch of the imagination, classified as a battle, massacre is the proper term, I went to the Internet and asked some people if they could direct me to a well written, well documented, short overview of the incident, written by a First Nations person, to place on this Website as rebuttal.

Thanks to a friend, I now have such in hand. It's written By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji), Lakota Media Inc. (Originally published December 28, 2003). Also, I did get directed to a Website that has information that more than helps fill the bill. An excerpt from testimony given by a white woman, Doctor Sally Wagner, at Wounded Knee hearings follows Tim's report:


Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot) and his wife White Hawk - 1872

Decades later, the pain of Wounded Knee lingers

Massacre: A U.S. apology remains elusive 113 years after scores of unarmed Lakota -- many women and children -- died in a hail of gunfire.

WOUNDED KNEE, S.D. -- On crystal-clear nights, when winter winds whistle through the hills and canyons around Wounded Knee Creek, the Lakota elders say it is so cold that one can hear the twigs snapping in the frigid air.

They called this time of the year "the Moon of the Popping Trees." It was on such a winter morning on Dec. 29, 1890, that the crack of a single rifle brought a day of infamy that still lives in the hearts and minds of the Lakota people.

After the rifle spoke there was a pause and then the rifles and Hotchkiss guns of the 7th Cavalry opened up on the men, women and children camped at Wounded Knee. What followed was utter chaos and madness. The thirst for the blood of the Lakota took away all common sense from the soldiers.

The unarmed Lakota fought back with bare hands. The warriors shouted to their wives, their elders and their children, "run for cover," Iynkapo! Iyankapo!

Elderly men and women, unable to fight back, stood defiantly and sang their death songs before falling to the hail of bullets. The number of Lakota people murdered that day is still unknown. The mass grave at Wounded Knee holds the bodies of 150 men, women and children. Many other victims died of their wounds and of exposure over the next several days.

The Lakota people say that only 50 people out of the original 350 followers of Sitanka (Big Foot) survived the massacre.

Five days after the slaughter of the innocents an editorial in the Aberdeen (S.D.) Saturday Pioneer reflected the popular opinion of the wasicu (white people) of that day. It read, "The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."

Ten years after he wrote that editorial calling for genocide against the Lakota people, L. Frank Baum wrote that wonderful children's book, The Wizard of Oz.

The federal government tried to forever erase the memory of Wounded Knee. The village that sprang up on the site of the massacre was named Brennan after a Bureau of Indian Affairs official. But the Lakota people never forgot. Although the name "Brennan" appeared on the map, they still called it Wounded Knee. In the 1920s, Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve built the Wounded Knee Trading Post there to serve the Lakota people.

My father, Tim Giago Sr., worked as a clerk and butcher for the Gildersleeves in the 1930s and we lived in one of the cabins at Wounded Knee that was later destroyed in the occupation of 1973. As a small boy, I recall the warm, summer evenings when the Lakota families sat outdoors and spoke softly, in reverent voices about that terrible day in 1890.

Much of what they said was written down by a young man named Hoksila Waste (pronounced Hokesheela Washtay) or Good Boy. His Christian name was Sid Byrd and he was a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe, a tribe that had been relocated and scattered around the state after the so- called Indian uprising in Minnesota.

Byrd wrote that it was the white man's fear of the spiritual revival going on among the Lakota in the form of the Ghost Dance that led to the assassination of Sitting Bull on Dec. 14, 1890, two weeks before the massacre. Fearing further attacks, Sitanka (Big Foot) and his band, a group that performed the very last Ghost Dance, went on a five-day march to reach the protection of Chief Red Cloud at the Pine Ridge Agency.

The weary band was overtaken and captured at Wounded Knee Creek (Canke Opi Wahkpala). Byrd believed, as do all Lakota people, that Big Foot died as a martyr for embracing the Ghost Dance "as freely as other men embraced their religion."

Byrd wrote in his Lakota version of what happened that day, "Later, some of the bodies would be found four to five miles from the scene of the slaughter. Soldiers would whoop as they spotted a women fleeing into the woods and chase them on horseback. They made sport of it. I heard from the elders that the soldiers shouted, 'Remember the Little Big Horn.'"

The 7th Cavalry, Custer's old command, spread out across the Pine Ridge Reservation hunting for survivors. They rode into the playgrounds of the Holy Rosary Indian Mission near Pine Ridge village. Prodded by the Jesuit priests, the children were forced to water and feed their horses. My grandmother, Sophie Abeyta, was one of those children. She later recalled that some of the soldiers, still bloody from the massacre, were laughing and joking about their "great victory."

On the 100th anniversary of that infamous day, three Lakota men organized a ride that followed the exact trail taken by Big Foot and his band. That ride has taken place every year since Dec. 29, 1990. At the end of the ride they hold a ceremony they call "wiping away the tears" that calls for peace and forgiveness.

Arvol Looking Horse, the Keeper of the Sacred Pipe of the Lakota, says a prayer every year on the hallowed grounds at Wounded Knee. He prays that the United States will someday apologize to the Lakota for the terrible deeds of the 7th Cavalry, and that the 23 soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for the slaughter will have those medals revoked.

What honor is there in the murder of innocent men, women and children? You tell me. And now, 113 years after the slaughter at Wounded Knee, America has not apologized and the Medal of Honor winners are still looked upon as heroes by the United States.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is editor and publisher of the weekly Lakota Journal. He is author of "The Aboriginal Sin" and "Notes from Indian Country" volumes I and II.

The following is a recent column about Wounded Knee by Tim. In it he relates experiences of victims.

Tim Giago: The 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee

Monday, December 11, 2006

While Americans agonize over the contents of the Iraq Study Group and weigh the options of extricating its soldiers from the middle of a civil war, the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota will gather on a lonely hill overlooking the demolished village of Wounded Knee (Wounded Knee was destroyed during the occupation of the American Indian Movement in 1973 and was never rebuilt) to commemorate and grieve the massacre of their ancestors.

It was after a night so cold that the Lakota called it "The Moon of the Popping Trees" because as the winter winds whistled through the hills and gullies at Wounded Knee Creek on that morning of December 29, 1890, one could hear the twigs snapping in the frigid air.

When a soldier of George Armstrong Custer's former troop the 7th Cavalry tried to wrest a hidden rifle from a deaf Lakota warrior after all of the other weapons had already been confiscated from Sitanka's (Big Foot) band of Lakota people, the deafening report of that single shot caused pandemonium amongst the soldiers and they opened up with their Hotchkiss machine guns upon the unarmed men, women and children.

Thus began an action the government called a "battle" and the Lakota people called a "massacre." The Lakota people say that only 50 people of the original 350 followers of Sitanka survived that morning of slaughter.

One of the survivors, a Lakota woman, was treated by the Indian physician Dr. Charles Eastman at a make-shift hospital set up in a church in the village of Pine Ridge. Before she died of her wounds she told about how she had concealed herself in a clump of bushes. As she hid there she saw two terrified little girls running past. She grabbed them and pulled them into the bushes. She put her hands over their mouths to keep them quiet but a mounted soldier spotted them. He fired a bullet into the head of one girl and them calmly reloaded his rifle and fired into the head of the other girl. He then fired into the body of the Lakota woman. She feigned death and although badly wounded, lived long enough to relate her terrible ordeal to Dr. Eastman. She said that as she lay there pretending to be dead, the soldier leaned down from his horse, used his rifle to lift up her dress in order to see her private parts, and then he snickered and rode off.

As the shooting subsided, units of the 7th Cavalry rode off toward White Clay Creek near Pine Ridge Village on a search and destroy mission. When they rode onto the grounds of Holy Rosary Indian Mission, my grandmother Sophie, a student at the mission school, and the other Lakota children, were forced by the Jesuit priests to feed and water their horses. My grandmother never forgot that terrible day and she often talked about how the soldiers were laughing and bragging about their great victory. She recalled one soldier saying, "Remember the Little Big Horn."

The Massacre at Wounded Knee was called the last great battle between the United States and the Indians. The true version of the events of that day were polished and sanitized for the consumption of most Americans. Twenty-three soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were awarded this Nation's highest honor, The Medal of Honor, for the murder of nearly 300 innocent and unarmed men, women and children. Although 25 soldiers died that day, historians believe that most of them died from friendly fire when they were caught in the crossfire of the Hotchkiss guns. Many Lakota have tried in vain to have those medals revoked without success.

Before they died, the Lakota warriors fought the soldiers with their bare hands as they shouted to the women and children, "Inyanka po, inyanka po! (Run, run)." The elderly men, unable to fight back, fell on their knees and sang their death songs. The screams and the cries of the women and children hung in the air like a heavy fog.

When I was a young boy I lived at Wounded Knee. Of course by then the name of the village had been changed to Brennan to honor a Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent, but all of the Lakota knew why the name was changed. Because although the government tried various ways to conceal the truth, the Lakota people never forgot and they always referred to the hallowed grounds as Wounded Knee and they continued to come to the mass grave to pray even though it was roundly discouraged by the government.

As a child I walked along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek and I often had an uneasy feeling, it was as if I could hear the cries of little children. Whenever I visited the trading post where my father worked I would listen to the elders as they sat on the benches in front of the store and spoke in whispered voices as the pointed at the hills and gullies. Never did I read about that horrible day in the history books used at the mission school I attended.

Two ironies still haunt me. Six days after the bloody massacre the editor of the Aberdeen (S.D.) Saturday Pioneer wrote in his editorial, "The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilizations, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."

The author of that editorial was L. Frank Baum, who later went on to write that famous children's book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." In calling for genocide against my grandmother and the rest of the Lakota people, he placed the final punctuation upon a day that will forever live in infamy amongst the Lakota.

And finally, as the dead and dying lay in the makeshift hospital in the Episcopal Church in Pine Ridge Village, Dr. Eastman paused to read the sign above the entrance that read, "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men."

**************************

Doctor Sally Wagner Testifies At Wounded Knee Hearings

Part One

“My name is Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner. I received my Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of California, Santa Cruz, one of the first doctorates awarded in the country for work in Women's Studies. Currently a Research Affiliate at the University of California, Davis, I've taught, lectured and written in the filed of Women's Studies for twenty years.

A native of Aberdeen, South Dakota, my roots are deep in the state. Both sets of grandparents settled here before the turn of the century, and my family has been active in political and community activities. Granpa Aldrich was mayor of Aberdeen for four terms, and I grew up with senators and governors as family friends. My mother always reminded the current governor that she taught him how to swim when he was a little boy. I've recently come home to reside with my elderly father following the death of my mother.

I became interested in Wounded Knee while researching the book series I'm editing on South Dakota pioneer women entitled Daughters of Dakota. The biggest surprise for me has been the frequency of stories indicating a cooperative and friendly relationship between Indians and settlers, generating the obvious research question, "what went wrong?" The answer ultimately led me to the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

What I'd like to share with you is some of that research journey. A solid grounding in my discipline of women's history has given me a healthy skepticism of current historians, so in my work I limit myself to first-hand accounts of people who were present at the event, and/or had access to the most knowledge of it. Hence, I went to the words of the commanding generals, soldiers in the fields, Indian agents, government officials, teachers, those who cared for the wounded, etc. I decided initially to limit myself to the accounts of non-Indians, and concentrate on the testimony of the men in charge, to see how they described the events at Wounded Knee. There are only a few key white women included; the only Indian voice you'll find in this testimony is quoted by Governor Sigurd Anderson.

Let us begin with the final story in the second volume of my book series, Daughters of Dakota, which is essentially where I began:

"One of the oldest friends of the Ashcrofts was the famous Sioux Indian leader, Sitting Bull. He often visited them and bought butter and chickens from Grandmother. One day he came to buy potatoes from their garden. Grandfather was busy and did not want to take the time to dig them, so his daughter Ethel, ten years old, slipped away and dug a half-sack of potatoes and dragged them up to the house for Sitting Bull. He was so pleased that he promised her a pony, and soon a little bay horse was delivered to her. He was named "Two-John" and she had him until she was married to Jack Jacobs in 1896.

The Role Of The Press

This story, I discovered, was in marked contrast to the newspapers throughout the nation at the time, which were calling for the total "extermination" of the Sioux nation, beginning with Sitting Bull. For example, the Minneapolis Tribune after his death, regretted only that he "should have been hung higher than Hamar and with less ceremony than is observed by a Texas lynching party towards a horse thief." As the press whipped-up fear, the fact was lost that Sitting Bull had been residing in friendship and peace with his white neighbors, with his only "crime" taking part in a religious worship, the Ghost Dance, labeled the "Messiah craze" by the press.

A frightening lynch mob mentality prevailed, with one North Dakota paper declaring: "The most wholesome way to put the quietus on the Messiah racket is to hang old Sitting Bull, and the other disturbance plotters, for conspiracy..."

It was clearly not just the papers back East that created an atmosphere that made genocide thinkable, but it was the local small-town papers, as well. In my home town of Aberdeen, which is in the opposite corner of the state from the Pine Ridge reservation, there was a kind and mild- mannered newspaper editor named L. Frank Baum who starred in an opera with my grandmother during the state fair in 1890. Mr. Baum wrote,

"The PIONEER has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up with one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth." Ten years later, L. Frank Baum published his children's classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Observers at the time held the newspapers accountable for creating a genocidal frenzy and an unwarranted fear in the settlers that could only lead to bloodshed. "Take away the spectacular military display, with the theatrical and almost farcical deploying of troops at a cost of $2,000,000, and we reduce the trouble to a minimum."

Calling in the Army

The white people closest to the scene "deeply resented the soldiers," wrote Elaine Goodale Eastman, who was Supervisor of Education for the two Dakotas at the time. "Army officers frankly admitted that 'the army doesn't know what it is here for' and even asserted that 'these Indians don't deserve punishment,' but we heard that the men were bored with inaction and spoiling for a fight."

The notable exception was the hysterical new agent at Pine Ridge, Dr. Daniel Royer, who reportedly later lost his license to practice medicine in California because of his sever drug addiction. A man with "no previous experience with the Indians," whose appointment was "purely a political one," according to his wife, Dr. Royer repeatedly and frantically called for the army, and reluctantly, for the first time in the twelve year history of the reservation, troops came in to Pine Ridge.

Business Interests

There was one group that wanted the army to come into the area, according to Elaine Goodale Eastman, who wrote,

"No one wanted war - unless there were a few border towns, who saw a cash market for local produce and a chance of taking over in the end the lands they coveted. All Indians wars had ended so."

The Wall, South Dakota, Chamber of Commerce believed that the business pressure Eastman mentions had been a major force leading up to Wounded Knee, as an historical brochure published by them in 1972 shows:

This unrest among the Indians and the Indian Agent's [Royer] request for soldiers fit well into the slow economy of the area and the business men in Rapid City and other towns in the west saw an opportunity to improve it. They joined with the Indian Agents in sending telegrams to Washington urging that troops be sent west. This was also welcome news to the Army that had been inactive for so long. They responded promptly and within a short time there was a cordon of regular army completely surrounding southwestern South Dakota. According to one newspaper report, this was the greatest peacetime concentration of U.S. Troops that had ever been staged. The soldiers were stationed from the Rosebud to Hot Springs, North to Slim Buttes and East to the Missouri River. The newspapers sent out great numbers of reporters and photographers. Business in the frontier towns was never better."

My friend Vic Runnels, an Oglala Lakota artist whose Uncle Jim High Hawk was shot and wounded by a soldier at Wounded Knee in 1890, reminds me that it must be remembered that the Indians read the newspapers calling for genocide against them. Graduates from boarding schools and day schools were reading, speaking and writing English by this time. They knew what the white nation was saying about them, and had reason to fear that would all be killed. Emma C. Sickels, who established the Indian school at Pine Ridge, wrote that the Indians were getting

"reports (circulated in newspapers and authorized by the almost universal sentiment of the terrified settlers) that all the Indians were going to be killed, their arms taken away, and men, women, and children slaughtered without discrimination."

The Conditions Leading Up to Wounded Knee

Brigadier General L.W. Colby was in command of The Nebraska National Guard, which was sent to defend the Nebraska border at this time. General Colby is an excellent source as he was in constant communication, privy to the inside military information and scuttlebutt, and wrote the history of his time. He says,

Colby:

"On November 19th, the telegraph dispatches contained rumors of fighting. On the 20th, some of the newspapers had reports of an important battle with the Indians, the sole function of which, however, was the imaginative brain of the reporter. General Brooke immediately left Omaha for the Pine Ridge Agency, taking command in person."

Colby:

"On November 27th," General Colby continued, "there was an issue of beef to the Indians at Pine Ridge. The issue was made to about 2,600 Indians. The steers were all lean and in poor condition. Twelve hundred soldiers were moved in near the agency, and four guns were planted in a position to command the main avenues of approach to the agency, during the afternoon of the same day."

The large Oglala boarding school became a virtual prison, "the doors...were kept locked by day as well as by nights and the ground, surrounded by a high fence of barbed wire, constantly patrolled by armed guards," according to Elaine Goodale Eastman. "These boys and girls," she said, were "held partly as hostages for the good behavior of their parents..."

Eastman , who was Supervisor of Education in the two Dakotas, witnessed the Ghost Dance "on a bright November night," the only white person present. "No one with imagination could fail to see in the rite a genuine religious ceremony, a faith which, illusory as it was, deserved to be treated with respect," she wrote. Nearly every person familiar with the Lakota people, from General Miles to the missionary Thomas Riggs, echoed the same sentiment, whether or not they respected the religious worship it represented: the Ghost Dance did not promote a war-like spirit among the Indians, and it should not be interfered with.

The critical survival problems facing the Indians were of most concern to the whites closest to the Indians.

Colby:

"The drouth and consequent failure of crops were everywhere general throughout the western states and territories and especially in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska. This affected the Indians as well as the white population in this section. This misfortune, to which was added the failure on the part of the government to supply the customary rations, produced actual suffering among the Indian tribes occupying the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and other reservations in the northwest. They were in need of the necessaries of life; a long cold winter was approaching, and starvation menaced them."

General Nelson Miles, commander of the Military Department of the Missouri, was the man in charge of the army in this area, and therefore is the most important single non-Indian source of information on Wounded Knee.

During this time, General Miles warned Washington:

"Discontent has been growing among the Indians for six months. The causes are numerous. First was the total failure of their crops this year. A good many of them put in crops and worked industriously; and were greatly discouraged when they failed, as they did utterly in some districts. Then the government cut down their rations, and the Appropriation Bill was passed so late that what supplies they received came unusually late. A good many of them have been on the verge of starvation. They have seen the whites suffering, too, and in many cases abandoning their farms."

Elaine Goodale Eastman , visiting Indian schools during the fall of 1890, also was alarmed: "In persistent hot winds the pitiful little gardens of the Indians curled up and died. Even the native hay crop was a failure. I had never before seen so much sickness. The appearance of the people shocked me. Lean and wiry in health, with glowing skins and the look of mettle, many now displayed gaunt forms, lackluster faces, and sad, deep-sunken eyes."

And then on December 15, what they all feared became reality. Sitting Bull was killed, in what General Colby, characterized as a "gentleman's agreement" to assassinate him.

Colby wrote that there was an "understanding between the officers of the Indian and military departments that it would be impossible to bring Sitting Bull to Standing Rock alive, and even if successfully captured, it would be difficult to tell what to do with him. It is therefore believed that there was a tacit arrangement between the commanding officers and the Indian police, that the death of the famous old Medicine man was much preferred to his capture, and that the slightest attempt to rescue him should be the signal for his destruction."

General Miles sent this telegraphic dispatch from Rapid City to General Schofield in Washington, D.C. on December 19:

"The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations which the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing. They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures. The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life. These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses."

General Miles:

"The trouble has been gathering for years. Congress has been in session now for several weeks, and could in a single hour confirm the treaty and appropriate the funds for its fulfillment; and, unless the officers of the army can give positive assurance that the Government intends to act in good faith with these people, the loyal element will be diminished, and the hostile element increased."

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs took the same stand in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, dated December 26:

"I desire to ask your attention briefly to the situation as viewed from the Indian standpoint."

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs :

"Prior to the agreement of 1876, buffalo and deer were the main support of the Sioux. Food, tents and bedding were the direct outcome of hunting. And with furs and pelts as articles of barter or exchange, it was easy for the Sioux to procure whatever constituted for them the necessities, the comforts, or even the luxuries of life. Within eight years from the agreement of 1876 the buffalo had gone, and the Sioux had left to them alkali land and Government rations."

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs :

"It is hard to over-state the magnitude of the calamity, as they viewed it, which happened to these people by the sudden disappearance of the buffalo, and the large diminution in the number of deer and other wild animals. It was as if a blight had fallen upon our grain fields, orchards and gardens, and a plague upon all our sheep and cattle.. Their loss was so overwhelming, and the change of life which it necessitated so great, that the wonder is that they endured it as well as they did. For not only did the vast herds of buffalo, and exhaustless supply of deer and other animals, furnish them with food, clothing, shelter, furniture and articles of commerce , but the pursuit of these animals and the preparation of their products furnished to the great body of them continuous employment and exciting diversion. Suddenly, almost without warning, all this was changed, and they were all expected to settle down to the pursuits of agriculture in a land largely unfitted for use. The freedom of the chase was to be exchanged for the idleness of the camp. The boundless range was to be abandoned for the circumscribed reservation; and abundance of plenty to be supplanted by limited and decreasing Government subsistence and supplies. Under these circumstances it is not in human nature not to be discontented and restless, even turbulent and violent."

Dr. V. T. McGillycuddy, former Indian Agent In Charge of Pine Ridge wrote,

"It must also be remembered that in all of the treaties made by the Government with the Indians a large portion of them have not agreed to, or signed the same. Noticeably was this so in the agreement secured by us with them the summer before last, by which we secured one-half of the remainder of the Sioux reserve, amounting to about 16,000 square miles. The agreement barely carried with the Sioux nations as a whole, but did not carry at Pine Ridge or Rosebud, where the strong majority were against it; and it must be noted that wherever there was the strongest opposition manifested to the recent treaty, there, during the present trouble, has been found the elements opposed to the Government."

McGillycuddy:

"The staple articles of food at Pine Ridge and some of the other agencies had been cut down below the subsisting point, noticeably the beef at Pine Ridge, which from an annual treaty allowance of 6,250,000 lbs., gross was cut down to 4,00,000 lbs. The contract on that beef was violated in-so-much as that contract called for Northern ranch beef, for which was substituted through beef from Texas, with an unparalled resultant shrinkage in winter, so that the Indians did not actually receive half ration of this food in winter, the very time the largest allowance of food is required."

McGillycuddy:

"By the fortunes of political war, weak agents were placed in charge of some of the agencies at the very time that trouble was known to be brewing."

McGillycuddy:

"Noticeably was this so at Pine Ridge, where a notoriously weak and unfit man was placed in charge. His flight, abandonment of his agency and his call for troops have, with the horrible results of the same, become facts in history."

McGillycuddy:

"Now as for facts in connection with Pine Ridge, which agency has unfortunately become the theater of the present "war:" was there necessity for troops? My past experience with those Indians does not so indicate."

McGillycuddy:

"Why was this? Because in those times we believed in placing confidence in the Indians; in establishing, as far as possible, a home rule government on the reservation. We established local courts presided over by the Indians with Indian juries; in fact we believed in having the Indians assist in working out their salvation."

McGillycuddy:

"When my Democratic successor took charge in 1886, he deemed it necessary to make changes in the system at Pine Ridge...The Democratic agent was succeeded in October last by the recently removed Republican agent, [Royer was removed after Wounded Knee] a gentleman totally ignorant of Indians and their peculiarities; a gentleman with not a qualification in his make-up calculated to fit him for the position of agent at one of the largest and most difficult agencies in the service to manage: a man selected solely as a reward for political services. He might have possibly been an average success as an Indian Agent at a small, well regulated agency."

McGillycuddy:

"As for the "Ghost Dance" too much attention has been paid to it. It was only the symptom [sic] or surface indication of a deep rooted, long existing difficulty; as well treat the eruption of small pox as the disease and ignore the constitutional disease."

McGillycuddy:

"As regards disarming the Sioux, however desirable it may appear, I consider it neither advisable, nor practicable. I fear it will result as the theoretical enforcement of prohibition in Kansas, Iowa and Dakota; you will succeed in disarming and keeping disarmed the friendly Indians because you can, and you will not succeed with the mob element because you cannot."

McGillycuddy:

"If I were again to be an Indian Agent, and had my choice, I would take charge of 10,000 armed Sioux in preference to a like number of disarmed ones; and furthermore agree to handle that number, or the whole Sioux nation, without a white soldier. Respectfully, etc., V.T. McGillycuddy.

P.S. I neglected to state that up to date there has been neither a Sioux outbreak or war. No citizen in Nebraska or Dakota has been killed, molested or can show the scratch of a pin, and no property has been destroyed off the reservation."

What Happened At Wounded Knee?

What followed next can perhaps best be told by the Commanding General, Nelson A. Miles:


General Miles - 1898

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 calvary. 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."

General Miles:

"The Official reports make the number killed 90 warriors and approximately 200 women and children."

This generally-accepted interpretation of events, that Wounded Knee was a massacre, continued up into the 1950's, when South Dakota Governor Sigurd Anderson explained his understanding of the situation in a 1956 speech:

Governor Sigurd Anderson:

"General Miles had campaigned against the Sioux in 1876 and 1877. He knew something of their camps, their actions, their fears. He had issued orders that white soldiers "were not" to go into Indian camps. He had understood the possibility of some bad incident setting off a fight if the Indians and the soldiers, neither able to understand the other, came into too close contact."

Governor Sigurd Anderson:

"Colonel Forsythe violated that order. During the night he deployed his troops about that camp as the map here indicates and the markers where various elements were located plainly shows. In the morning he sent some of the troops INTO the camp. There they were searching the Indians in groups of ten for the unsurrendered weapons." End of Part one.

Twenty Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to members of the U.S. Army, 7th Calvary, who participated in the Wounded Knee massacre. Consider putting your support behind the effort to have them recinded. Details can be found at the Dick Shovel address listed below.

This note is for the enlightenment of any Canadian readers who might be inclined to smugly set back and state with piety "such inhumanity never happened here:"

There are two ways to commit genocide, neither is saintly. The first is by direct methods, guns, gas chambers, and so on. The second is the gentler methods, starvation, malnutrition, withholding health care, assimilation policies, removal of children, and so on. In both cases, the hoped for end result is the same, the extermination of a race of people.

In what today constitutes Canada, the gentler method was opted for. It was a long lasting brutal assault, close to three centuries.

In 1713, when they took over Acadia from the French, the British set a goal to exterminate First Nations by assimilation. It was pursued with vigor through their colonial reign, passed on to Canada when they established it in 1867, which in turn left no stone unturned trying to achieve the white supremacist dream until very recent times. One political party is still an advocate of it. (There was a deviation from the gentler method in the mid-1700s. Direct methods were utilized for approximately fifteen years, when British officials offered bounties for Mi’kmaq scalps.)

In my time, 1938 to the present, I’ve seen the forced removal of children from First Nations communities, reserve addition policies that barred the enlargement of Indian Reserves because it would interfere with the drive to assimilate, thus prevent the realization of the ultimate goal, extinction. I've wittnessed so much more similarly atrocious undertakings that it would take several pages to relate even a part of it here. It is not a perrty story, but needs to be told.

Canada does not stand head and shoulders above any Nation in the Americas when it comes to the mistreatment of Native Americans, in fact it was among the leaders in devising "gentle" ways to inflict pain.Therefore, before passing judgement on another country, I recommend that any Euro descended Canadians who think this country aboveboard when it came to carrying out genocidal policies, start their education about the Genocide that took place here by reading two books: “Accounting for Genocide” http://www.danielnpaul.com/AccountingForGenocide.htmland “We Were Not the Savages” http://www.danielnpaul.com/WeWereNotTheSavages-Mi'kmaqHistory.html. When finished, the smugness should be gone.

To read Part Two of the Wounded Knee testimony, medal recinding efforts, and much more First Nations history, click on: http://dickshovel.com/WKmasscre.html

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New Haven Register

Infamy of Wounded Knee lives on in hearts of the Lakota people

By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji), Published December 28, 2010

WHEN winter winds whistle through the hills and canyons around Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, the Lakota elders say it is so cold that you can hear the twigs snapping in the frigid air.

They called this time of the year “The Moon of the Popping Trees.” It was on such a winter morning, Dec. 29, 1890, that the crack of a single rifle brought a day of infamy that still lives in the hearts and minds of the Lakota people.

After the rifle spoke there was a pause and then the rifles and Hotchkiss guns of the 7th Cavalry opened up on the men, women and children camped at Wounded Knee. What followed was utter chaos and madness. The thirst for the blood of the Lakota took away all common sense from the soldiers.

The unarmed Lakota fought back with bare hands. The warriors shouted to their wives, their elders and their children, “run for cover,” Iynkapo! Iyankapo!

Elderly men and women, unable to fight back, stood defiantly and sang their death songs before falling to the hail of bullets. The number of Lakota people murdered that day is unknown. The mass grave at Wounded Knee holds the bodies of 150 men, women and children. Many other victims died of their wounds and exposure over the next several days.

The Lakota people say only 50 people out of the original 350 followers of Sitanka (Big Foot) survived the massacre.

Five days after, an editorial in the Aberdeen, S.D., Saturday Pioneer reflected the popular opinion of the whites of that day: “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the Earth.”

Ten years after he wrote that editorial calling for genocide, L. Frank Baum wrote that wonderful children’s book, “The Wizard of Oz.”

The federal government tried to forever erase the memory of Wounded Knee. The village that sprang up on the site of the massacre was named Brennan, honoring a Bureau of Indian Affairs official. But the Lakota never forgot. Although Brennan appeared on the map, they still called it Wounded Knee. In the 1920s, Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve built the Wounded Knee Trading Post there.

My father, Tim Giago Sr., worked as a clerk and butcher for the Gildersleeves in the 1930s and we lived in one of the cabins at Wounded Knee that were destroyed in the American Indian Movement occupation in 1973.

As a small boy, I recall the warm, summer evenings when the Lakota families sat outdoors and spoke in reverent voices about that terrible day in 1890.

Much of what they said was written down by a young man named SHoksila Waste, or Good Boy. His Christian name wasid Byrd, a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe, which had been relocated and scattered around the state after a so-called Indian uprising in Minnesota.

Byrd wrote that it was the white man’s fear of the spiritual revival going on amongst the Lakota, in the form of the Ghost, that led to the assassination of Sitting Bull on Dec. 14, 1890, two weeks before the massacre. Fearing further attacks, Big Foot and his band, a group that performed the very last Ghost Dance, went on a five-day march to reach the protection of Chief Red Cloud at the Pine Ridge Agency. The weary band was overtaken and captured at Wounded Knee Creek.

Byrd believed, as do all Lakota, that Big Foot died as a martyr for embracing the Ghost Dance “as freely as other men embraced their religion.”

Byrd wrote: “Later, some of the bodies would be found four to five miles from the scene of the slaughter. Soldiers would whoop as they spotted women and children fleeing into the woods and chase them on horseback. They made sport of it. I heard from the elders that the soldiers shouted, ‘Remember the Little Big Horn.’”

On the 100th anniversary of that infamous day, Birgil Kills Straight, Alex White Plume and Jim Garrett, organized a ride that followed the trail taken by Big Foot and his band. The ride has taken place every year since. At the end of the ride, they hold a ceremony called “wiping away the tears” that calls for peace and forgiveness. Wednesday, they will take that ride again.

Arvol Looking Horse, the keeper of the sacred pipe of the Lakota, says a prayer every year at Wounded Knee. He prays that America will someday apologize for the terrible deeds of the 7th Cavalry, and that the 23 soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for the slaughter of innocents will have those medals revoked. He also prays for peace and unity.

One hundred and twenty years after the massacre at Wounded Knee the United States of America has not apologized, and the Medal of Honor winners are still looked upon as heroes. Will the country ever own up to it's sins?

Click to Contact Tim Giago Tim is an Oglala Lakota, and is the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association.

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A great untruth---Custer was an American Hero
Bob Siqveland

When I was a child, like all Children in the 1950's, we played cowboys and Indians. Like all Caucasian boys in the 50's, I wanted to be General George Custer-American hero, only to later find out that Custer was a duplicitous liar, a megalomaniac and a man who should have been courts-martialed for dereliction of duty for endangering those under his command. I will note that this is my opinion, but I was a commanding officer in the Army, and the decisions he made in regard to the safety of his men were nothing less than reckless endangerment. I would have removed him from any command position.

After I reached the age of reason and I discovered the truth, I wanted to be Sitting Bull, or Red Cloud, or Cochise, or Geronimo, or Gall, or Crazy Horse, or Chief Joseph, or Ten Bears or any other of a dozen wise, responsible and brave Native Americans, who represent the best in military leadership and this admiration reaches far beyond the military. They were America's first heroes, not Custer.

Whether it was a death wish or not, we'll never know, but I will not take away the fact that Custer was brave in battle during the Civil War. But, his shortcomings far outweighed his attributes, which became evident after his assignment to the 7th Cavalry in 1866. In 1867 Custer actually was court-martialed and suspended for dereliction of duty and again in 1876 he was relieved of his command by President Ulysses S. Grant, this time for corruption. By virtue of his relationship with General Sheridan, he was soon reinstated.

George Armstrong Custer spoke with “Forked Tongue”. Seven years before his defeat at Little Big Horn, Custer met with a demoralized group of Cheyenne at the lodge of Chief Medicine Arrows. He had recently conducted a surprise attack on their sleeping village near the Washita River and killed women and children in the attack. He smoked the sacred pipe of peace and promised never to attack them again, a promise he quickly broke. His duplicity and lack of integrity were marked with messages on his mutilated body at Little Big Horn, when (a little known fact) he was found with an awl in his ear and an arrow shoved into his penis.

I won't waste time discussing the philosophies of manifest destiny or white man's burden or post conquest theories and rationalizations other than to say that with every conquest, comes responsibility, and the white man was less than honorable in that department. I'm not going to recount the long list of broken promises, inequities and injustices that the white man prevailed upon the Native Americans, though like our periodic reminders about Nazi Germany and slavery in the South, so too should these injustices not be lost in time.

My admiration for the Native American peoples, their history, their culture, and their wisdom is of the highest order. Their Spiritual beliefs are not only beautiful and simplistic, but woven into a pantheistic appreciation, even adoration of “mother earth” and the world around us, there is nothing to resist in its welcome acceptance. When I read the words of Ohiyesa, Chief Joseph,

Chief Red Jacket, Chief Seattle and dozens more, I am struck by their juxtaposition in depth and wisdom to those of Confucius, Tao philosophers, early Greeks and other sages. They speak in an ageless wisdom about love, family, death, education, leadership, government and faith. The Native American people are a proud and admirable people and their plight and survival in America has been fraught with untold hardships and setbacks. In a generic sense, one can lament. In a specific sense, we can collectively do something. I will now get to the essence of this message.

I first read Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee many years ago. When I reread it over a year ago, I experienced the same emotions…anger, embarrassment and the need to do something about this prodigious injustice. I scoured the websites, read the oratorical accounts of survivors (Indian and white), made calls, had meetings that didn't go anywhere, and wrote letters. Here is the letter I wrote to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Medal of Honor Recipients

It is with genuine humility and respect that I send this communication to each of you, and do hope to receive a response.

My name is Bob Siqveland. I am 67 years old. I have worked hard and been a productive contributor to the fabric of our country all of my life. I have an exemplary reputation along with a clean and respected background in the business world. In 1971 (after 2 years of active duty and 3 of reserve), I received an honorable discharge from the Army with the rank of Captain. My PMOS was 2900, Commanding officer. My three brothers served in Viet Nam, my older brother being assigned as John Paul Vann's (A Bright Shining Lie) helicopter pilot, where he was shot down three times. He was with Mr Vann during TET. My father was the ship's dentist in WWII, (USS Curtis) and his office on the USS Curtis was hit by a kamikaze at Kwajalein. I mention this background for reasons you will hopefully appreciate as you read on.

The time has come for an appalling injustice to be rectified, and you are a most integral part of that process. I am a proud American and ex-serviceman and am committed to removing an offensive, abhorrent and embarrassing blemish from our history…the streamers that fly from our National flags that proclaim The Battle of Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge 1890-1891.

Historical records prove unequivocally that what happened on December 29, 1890 near Wounded Knee Creek was a massacre, a clear juxtaposition to what happened on March 16, 1968 in My Lai, Viet Nam. In both instances, unarmed men, women and children were slaughtered. The only difference being that after My Lai, Lt. Wm. Calley, commanding officer, was, as a result of his actions, sentenced to life imprisonment; at Wounded Knee, twenty (the most in any military battle) Medals of Honor were awarded to the transgressors. What took place there was murder and none of you should be dishonored by the criminal injustice that will always detract from the military's highest award…until justice has been done.

To believe that Wounded Knee is ancient history and should be left alone, is not only an ignorant misperception, but is irresponsible and irreverent.

Though no fault should be assigned to the planners of the event, on April 12, 1999, an Oneida tribal member and decorated serviceman attended the United States EPA Administrator's Annual Award Ceremony… “The color guard was preparing to march to the front of the Ronald Reagan Auditorium in Washington, DC. Bob noticed that the U.S. Army was part of the guard. After speaking with the Sergeant that held the standard he did indeed discover that the "Battle Streamer" for Pine Ridge 1890-1891 which pays honor to the Massacre at Wounded Knee, was included. It should be understood that as an American Indian and veteran he was profoundly offended to see such an obscene symbol of injustice displayed at a ceremony of honor. Bob spoke to the Sergeant who knew practically nothing of the history of that battle streamer. They had just announced that the Star - Spangled Banner was about to be played and the color guard would advance to the front. After notifying his supervisor, he left the auditorium because he could not stand with his hand over his heart and watch the EPA Administrator and the rest of EPA pay honor to this massacre.”

I believe that there have been 29 Native American Medal of Honor recipients. I can only assume that they, as should all recipients, feel as described above.

For those of you, who are not familiar with what happened at Wounded Knee, let me provide a cursory review from historical records, investigations, pictures and eye witnesses.

General Miles' Telegram

General Miles sent this telegram from Rapid City to General John Schofield in Washington, D.C. on December 19, 1890:

"The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations that the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing. They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures. The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life. These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses."

9 DAYS LATER:

On Dec 28, 1890, Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot) of the Minneconjou (Sioux) was leading his band of 350 to the Pine Ridge Reservation. They were suffering from starvation and cold. He was lying on drag poles behind a horse because he had pneumonia and was too ill to ride or walk. He was informed that four companies of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry had arrived. The commander, Maj. Samuel Whitside demanded his unconditional surrender and Big Foot did not argue. He and his people were then escorted to a settlement of sorts near Wounded Knee Creek, fifteen mile east of the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, four more companies and the overall commander of the Seventh, Col. Forsyth, also arrived. The eight companies numbered nearly 500 armed men. They had with them four Hotchkiss, state-of-the-art, rapid fire light artillery guns that fired two-inch, high explosive shells.

Bigfoot and his followers encamped south of a low plateau. They numbered approximately 350 cold, tired and hungry people. Of those, 230 were women and children. Forsyth positioned the four Hotchkiss guns on the plateau above them. For all intents and purposes, they were at that point…P.O.W's. Throughout that evening the soldiers drank a cask of whiskey and angry epithets and cries of “remember the Little Big Horn” were heard by the frightened captives.

In the morning Bigfoot was brought out and seated in front of his tent. He was told that the Indians would be disarmed. Accordingly, they stacked their guns in the center, but the soldiers were not satisfied and proceeded to go through the tents, bringing out bundles and tearing them open, throwing the knives, axes and tent stakes into the pile. The women and children were pushed to the ground as they had been separated from the men. Then they ordered searches of each individual warrior. There were five armed soldiers for every unarmed warrior.

The search found only two rifles, one brand new, belonging to a young man names Black Coyote. Black Coyote was deaf and when the soldiers tried to take his rifle, he raised it over his head claiming that he had spent much money for it. The soldiers grabbed him. At this point, a shot was heard. It has never been determined where or who fired the shot, but that is when the killing began. At that point, the only weapons the Indians had were what they could grab from the pile.

The Hotchkiss guns opened up and the shrapnel shredded the tents killing women and children indiscriminately. They tried to run, but were shot down. In the opening volley of rifle fire, the soldiers shot nearly half of the unarmed men, including Big Foot, who had been separated into a group. The soldiers were in a ring surrounding the 230 women and children and continued to shoot them. Some ran and sought shelter in a ravine but were pursued by soldiers and cut down. Some women and children managed to make it over a mile from the camp before they were shot. Many of the dead women were found with shawls or blankets over their faces, sometimes with a child inside, shot at point blank range. Only a few found places to hide.

There was one final insult that affirmed the mind-set of those behind the guns. Even after the shooting had abated, the soldiers searched the dry ravine for survivors. A group of young boys was lured into the open from their hiding place, only to be riddled with bullets.

When the mass insanity of the soldiers had ended, nearly 300 of the captives were dead. Twenty-five soldiers were dead and 39 were wounded. It was later determined that the vast majority of soldier casualties was the result of cross fire from the ring that the soldiers had formed and the positioning of the Hotchkiss guns. General Miles later officially criticized Col. Forsyth for this tactical disposition of troops, in the subsequent investigation. The survivors, 4 Sioux men and 47 wounded women and children, were loaded on wagons taken to Pine Ridge, and left in the bitter cold until the Episcopal mission volunteers provided shelter.

The Army hired civilians to dig a mass grave, and on New Year's day of 1891, the bodies of the Sioux were shoveled into the excavation, much like was done at Auschwitz.


Mass grave for Jews at Warsaw


Mass grave for the Lakota dead at Wounded Knee

If this accounting of the atrocity is not enough to convince you, permit me to quote from a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs dated April 12, 1920 from then, three star General Nelson A. Miles, the man who was in overall command of the 500 soldiers at Wounded Knee, 30 years prior;

“The present seems to me of imperative importance and justice, namely, to atone in part for the cruel and unjustifiable massacre of Indian men, and innocent women and children at Wounded Knee on the Red Cloud Reservation”, and in the same letter stated, “I earnestly request that these measures be urged upon the Congress.”

Nothing was done until the 101st Congress, in 1990, in a reticent admission of guilt, passed a watered down Resolution 153, apologizing to the Sioux people for the “Wounded Knee massacre”. Still, the “battle streamer” flies and twenty (dis-Honorable) Medals of Honor remain in place.

So, let's take a closer look at some of these offensive and fraudulent Medal of Honor recipients that occupy the same hallowed grounds that each of you so deservedly holds as a winner of a “Medal of Honor only to each person who, while an officer or enlisted man of the Army shall hereafter, in action involving actual conflict with an enemy, distinguish himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty". Frank French, a civilian who helped bury the dead Indians after the massacre, described the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry; “A rotten type of human beings. Some of the soldiers in them days was outlaws and ruffians caught by the law. They were given their choice of going in the Army or going to jail. They always took the Army. It was a disgrace to invite them to a private home or to a public gathering.”

One Medal of Honor recipient was John E. Clancy of Company E, First U.S. Artillery. He received his medal on January 23, 1892. His citation stated that he had rescued wounded soldiers. How do you rescue wounded soldiers when the so called enemy is unarmed? And, do you believe that a man who was court-martialed eight times during his career, twice between the massacre at Wounded Knee and the receipt of his medal, had the character for selfless courage? A letter from his commanding officer, Lt. Hawthorne, stated he was NOT recommended for a Medal of Honor or even honorable mention.

Another recipient, Pvt. Mosheim Feaster, Company E, 7th Cavalry, was recommended by an officer who was over a quarter mile away at the time of his “heroic action”. Ironically, the three men who signed affidavits attesting to his acts, were close friends of his, and in turn---All three of these witnesses were ALSO GIVEN MEDALS OF HONOR.

One recipient manned a Hotchkiss at the end of the ravine where the unarmed women and children sought protection while another received the award for chasing down a mule that had run away from the conflict.

These men were not the exception; they were the rule in this band of murderous bullies and incompetent commanders.

So, what do I want from you? I want your help and support.

If you believe, as I do, that this horrible injustice should, and can be rectified, I need your help and support. The time has come. It is a foul blemish on our proud military history and tradition. It is a chasm that exists between our peoples.

The congress has the lowest approval rating in history…5%. They continue to separate our country with out of control spending and internal political war with seemingly little regard for National unification. Believe me, I am not a rebel rouser or a man with causes. Yes I'm conservative in my thinking, but I don't claim any party affiliation. I am searching desperately for a National leader, whatever party, but for now am most discouraged with what I see. What I am proposing here is NOT a political issue. Some may try to turn it into that, but that is not what is at stake here. A collective effort to “right” this National injustice, can only result in a unifying development, and God knows we need more of that.

I have support of Native American leaders. I believe that with the support of you, one of the most esteemed of military honorees, the American Legion and such organizations will follow. I believe I can get an audience with Senator John McCain, Senator Inouye (Medal of Honor recipient), and other influential people who I believe will support the movement to right this wrong and help to pull our country together in the process.

Enough said. I beseech you to provide me with a reaction to my commitment, agree or disagree I respect your integrity. I am providing my contact information and hope for a response.

With the deepest respect and appreciation for your sacrifice,

Bob Siqveland

I didn't get a reply. Finally I pushed for a response and was told that the President of the CMOH Society would have to approve it before it was forwarded to the MOH recipients. I never heard anything again. *

"You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts. Speak Americans.. I will not lie to you; do not lie to me."

Cochise, Chiracahua Apache (1812-1874) *

John Kennedy once said, you can tell the character of a nation by the people that nation honors. If that is true, and I believe it is, these Medals are an insult to all Americans, not just the people of the First Nations.

On June 24th, 1996, Senator John McCain who was then Chairman Senate Committee of Indian Affairs responded to another plea to rescind these medals. This from Mr. Dill.

From: Senator John McCain - Chairman Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Concerning: Rescindment of Medals of (dis)Honor

Date: June 24, 1996

Dear Mr. Dill,

Thank you for your recent letters, together with signatures and comments from other citizens via the Internet, proposing that Congress rescind seventeen Medals of Honor awarded to U.S. Army personnel for actions at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, and at Drexel Mission on the following day.

I appreciate why you view with dismay the award of the nation's highest decoration for valor to soldiers of the United States Army for their individual efforts in an action that resulted in the death or wounding of as many as 370 Indian men, women and children.

I also appreciate the concern that these awards can be viewed as diminishing the value of Medals of Honor awarded for conduct in other conflicts.

The policies and decisions of the United States Government that led to the Army's being at Wounded Knee in 1890 doubtless can be characterized as unjust, unwise, or worse. Nevertheless, a retrospective judgement that the Government's policies and actions were dishonorable does not warrant rescinding the medals awarded to individual soldiers for bravery in a brief, fierce fight in which 25 soldiers were killed and 45 others wounded.

Neither today's standards for awarding the medal nor policies of the United States with regard to Indian tribes are what they were in 1890.

The criteria by which the Medal of Honor is awarded have changed greatly since the original, ambiguous, nineteenth century authorization for the medal that gave commanders a wide latitude in choosing men to receive it. Soldiers could even nominate themselves for the award, and did.

Between 1891 and 1897, over 500 medals were awarded for actions in the Civil War, more than three decades earlier. These awards led to the formation of the Medal of Honor Legion, and organization of recipients concerned that wholesale bestowal of the award was weakening the medal's prestige.

In part due to the efforts of the Medal of Honor Legion, President Wilson in 1916 signed a law that clarified the procedures and standards of proof for awarding the Medal of Honor.

To receive the medal, one must demonstrate distinguished gallantry or intrepity, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.

The 1916 law also provided for a board of retired generals to review each of the 2,625 Army medals awarded for conduct during campaigns against Indian tribes between 1861 and 198, including Wounded Knee. As a result of this review, 911 medals were rescinded, all because the recipients were judged not to have distinguished themselves in combat and at the risk of their lives.

In 1990, in an unprecedented action the 101st Congress passed Senate COncurrent Resolution 153, which apologized to the Sioux people for the Wounded Knee massacre and expressed support for the establishment of a "suitable and appropriate memorial to those who were tragically slain at Wounded Knee."

Since then, descendents of the Wounded Knee victims and survivors, the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribal governments, the State of South Dakota, Members of Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior have considered a number of proposals, including a National Tribal Park, as an appropriate memorial.

While a consensus on a Wounded Knee memorial proposal remains elusive, efforts to achieve such a consensus are continuing. I support these efforts in the belief that establishing a well-conceived memorial to the victims of Wounded Knee is much preferable to attempting to strip long-dead soldiers of a medal which they might not merit under today's standards.

Sincerely,

John McCain - Chairman

Here are excerpts from a letter I wrote to McCain. It was apparently never received.

Dear Senator McCain:

It is with palpable passion, but a pending sense of disappointment that I write to you.

“My name is Bob Siqveland. Although I don't have hero's, you have come as close as anyone. In addition to your military record, I have always believed you to be a man of both personal and political integrity, until recently. I hope my life-long perception doesn't change.

I have always had an intense antipathy for injustice. In 1955, I was 11 years old. I did have a hero then, as I went to my neighborhood theater, paid .21 cents, and watched “To Hell and Back” with Audie Murphy. In 1970, I was disillusioned and angry when I finished reading “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”. A year ago, I reread that book, and again picked up my rather intense study of Native American history, and all things surrounding the Wounded Knee massacre, and to call it anything but that, is an injustice and certainly fallacious. I couldn't justify “How in the name of God, had the injustice of those 20 Medal of Honor recipients (notice I didn't say winners), not been revoked.” In the process of my investigation, I came across the letter that you wrote to Mr. Dill, on June 24, 1996, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (copy attached). To say I was disappointed would be minimizing. There was just no way that this was the response of the John McCain that I had come to respect and believe in…but alas…it was true.

After having read your response to Mr. Dill many times, I have concluded that you might as well have sent him a “form” letter. I was disheartened to see you treat an issue of this magnitude in such a shallow and dispassionate manner. I can only conclude that you are either only marginally informed about the topic, or you were advancing some political/military cover-up. The latter opposes every perception I have of who you are, so let me address the first conclusion. Please understand that this issue will never go away, and one day, someone of authority with real passion and a deep sense of justice will commit to its resolution. Only then will a solution be found that addresses the much bigger question of America's proper relationship with the Native Americans in regard to “trust issues” and true amalgamation of our America's first-people. John…you are a man with the credentials, influence and spirit that can make this happen. I believe in one of your major legacies being the “political leader responsible for bringing our American cultures together”. Mind you, I have no Native blood in my veins, only a deep respect for our first people and a passion for justice. I'm also a proud vet who wants to believe that the awarding of a Congressional Medal of Honor is not diluted by the likes of these murderers wearing one. Without rescindment, that will always be the case.

As a prelude to my argument about this atrocity, permit me to quote from a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs dated April 12, 1920 from then, three star General Nelson A. Miles, the man who was in command of the 500 soldiers at Wounded Knee, 30 years prior;

“The present seems to me of imperative importance and justice, namely, to atone in part for the cruel and unjustifiable massacre of Indian men, and innocent women and children at Wounded Knee on the Red Cloud Reservation”, and in the same letter stated, “I earnestly request that these measures be urged upon the Congress.”

Certainly a guilty, self-condemning and penitent mind, but this statement most certainly not only invalidates the corpus of your watered down argument to Mr Dill, including the sham (incomplete) review of 1916, but in essence gives you permission to right this wrong, after all, this was the Commander.

These men were not the exception; they were the rule in this band of bullies and incompetent commanders. Senator…Audie Murphy and his colleagues deserve so much more. These men would have never served under my command unless ordered to. If these are men to whom you feel, as you implied in your letter, you owe loyalty, then I must take my little red and white copy of “Why Courage Matters”, and give it to the Salvation Army.

Senator, on a micro level, these accounts are atrocious, but in the “big picture”, this event is far more. Although I agree that in those days, Medals of Honor were handed out more liberally, this was vastly different. There is very little question that these recipients didn't deserve the medals, and frankly, in that light your response of “let sleeping dogs lie” has no substance. This was a juxtaposition to Mi Lai, in essence a war crime imposed upon POW's. Any defense of that statement is not only weak, but the claim can be substantiated with actual accounts, too many for this missive. The biggest effect of this injustice is that the Native American peoples will never fully have trust in “the white man” or our government until there is closure on this issue. If even one of these medals was revoked, it would change that attitude. Or, if nothing else, at least the so called “battle streamers” for that atrocity, should forever be removed from anywhere they fly. You have General Miles' own entreaty to do that.

I voted for you with passion, Senator. I believe you would have been a great President. I believe that you owe me a response to this letter…one that is more sincere and heartfelt than that of 1996. I am committed to doing whatever I can to bring justice to this issue…whatever that may be. For now, this letter is of a personal issue with you. I believe that your efforts in this battle would be a critical and courageous legacy in the life of John McCain.

I look for your reply,

Kind Regards, Bob

In January of this year, I sent the following letter to the Editor of American Legion Magazine.

Editor American Legion Magazine

Even after 121 years, Americans with a conscience can still hear the voices of the 300 Lakota Sioux that cry out for redemption from their graves beneath the frozen tundra of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Wounded Knee South Dakota. Indian lore will tell us that even the dead know that there is no statute of limitations on murder and so the spirits of those unarmed people, victims of a malicious and vindictive massacre, cannot and will not, be hushed until justice renders amend…and some day Americans of courage and justice will do so.

The fact that 20 of the murderers have resided in hell for near a century, wearing Congressional Medals of Honor around their necks, is almost beside the point. For them, those medals are simply proof that America agrees that they were “justified”.

For 30 years this most atrocious injustice has abraded the sensitive membrane of my humanity and conscience and I dare say that of thousands, who understand just what Edmund Burke, the Irish political philosopher meant when he stated; “All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.”

I can't help but feel that our country, the great United States of America, the country of hope, of unity, of integrity and kindred spirit, has become something less. History will tell us that all powerful nations will decay with excess and opulence, but our fathers told us we were an exception. For most of my life, I believed him. Now, however, instead of hope I see fear; instead of unity I see separation; instead of integrity I see dissimulation and instead of kindred spirit, I see self-service and greed.

If I can believe in America and Americans as I have since my childhood, I need to believe that the people will still stand tall in the face of injustice. Will sublimate their own desires to a just cause and offer their hand, their help, their own need to do what is right.

I submit to you a letter that I sent to the CMOHS (Congressional Medal of Honor Society) in hopes of getting support from our honored, living Medal of Honor recipients. The web site states that letters will be forwarded, but once again, it appears that some bureaucrat has arbitrarily decided to not forward it. I am hoping that you will think about publishing this missive for veterans and their families to decide for themselves what they believe and what they believe in.

Most Sincerely,

Bob Siqveland

American Legion member, Post 202, Hackensack, MN 56452

The reply I received was that “there are many articles that get submitted”.

“There could be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable person to whom the facts are known, that these medals were not deserved.

To have such and honor bestowed on these murderers for killing women and children causes Indian people to doubt the sincerity of everything the government does.

The alienation felt by Native peoples of this country can never be alleviated until these medals are rescinded. At some point we must begin the healing process.

To white Americans who are aware of the situation, these medals represent what is worst in our society.” Jerry Green- “AFTER WOUNDED KNEE”

Men like Jerry Green, Mr. Dill, myself and hundreds more, are committed to the goal of REMOVING THE WOUNDED KNEE BATTLE STREAMER FROM OUR NATIONAL FLAG as well as RESCINDING THE MEDALS OF HONOR FROM THE WOUNDED KNEE MASSACRE, but…we can't do it without YOU.

Here are excerpts from an article in Indian Country by Lise Balk King in December of 2011.

“On December 19,2009, President Barack Obama signed the Native American Apology Resolution into law. The moment of the signing of the US Apology by Obama in December of 2009 was closed to the press. A public reading of the Apology wasn't held until May 20, 2010, when Sen. Brownback read the resolution during an event at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. There were five tribal leaders present, representing the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Pawnee nations.”

In 2008 Canada preceded the U.S. apology which was announced publicly.

“The other marked difference between the Canadian and the US apologies is in the details of the admission. Canada's work in repair and reconciliation has been specific and actionable. It refers to the harm done by assimilation practices of the government, and in particular the abuses of the residential school system. The US apology, as un-public as the delivery has been thus far”…lacks actionable items and specifics about the transgressions.

“Obama's (Senator Brownback's) Apology to Native Americans is important, and could provide a much-needed shift in public attitudes toward tribes in the country, as well as attitudes of Native people toward the federal government. But only if he goes to the next logical and morally correct step, and makes the Native American Apology Resolution part of the national discourse. Otherwise, a big and historic tree fell in the forest and truly didn't make a sound.”

That was 2009…nothing has been done since. Another apology without teeth…or commitment. Political rhetoric. Vote gathering. Bottom line---better than nothing but not nearly enough.

The first step is to remove the Pine Ridge battle streamer from flying on any American flag. It is a disgrace…it is a lie.

American Indian Genocide http://www.danielnpaul.com/AmericanIndiansGenocide.htmll

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