Remembering Native American lives lost at Wounded Knee massacre

The Wounded Knee tragedy occurred 130 years ago, killing close to 300 Lakota tribe members

WOUNDED KNEE CREEK, S.D. — Tuesday marks the 130th year since the Wounded Knee massacre.

“At the time there was a movement with the ghost dance that was occurring sort of this evangelical effort by Native Americans that were praying for sort of relief from all that was happening,” Plains Art Museum Director of Native American Programs Joe Williams said.

The ghost dance represented a symbol amongst the Lakota tribe, which did not sit well with the U.S cavalry at the time.

“This ghost dance would expel white people from Indian land. It was more of desperation they were trying to find answers, the government had stopped honoring the treaties two years before. The ghost dance was the last effort to find some sort of relief from all that was happening,” Williams said.

U.S officials not liking what the dance represented began arresting members of the Lakota tribe which would lead to tragedy.

“The green light was given by the commander that was there to execute women and children and kill everybody that they could, that’s essentially what happened. The troops started shooting indiscriminately among the Lakota that were there. I think it was around 230 or 270 that were killed that day,” Williams said.

Williams says it’s more than just a remembrance day for those killed in the massacre.

“Everyone acknowledges that what happened to Native Americans was horrible and it was terrible, but we’re comfortable with the idea that they disappeared when it became the 20th century and definitely people who write school books feel comfortable placing Native Americans as historic embassies and so I think it’s really important that we’re really self aware of how we treat each other,” Williams said.

Williams says it’s important to keep Native American culture alive.

“There’s not a lot of native representation, but there is some and it’s very important that the community is aware and that we acknowledge it because we are part of the community, we’re not an afterthought,” Williams said.

Williams says it’s important for the community to frame conversations around Native American history and culture.

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