Wounded Knee Massacre, (December 29, 1890), the slaughter of approximately 150–300 Lakota Indians by United States Army troops in the area of Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota. The massacre was the climax of the U.S. Army’s late 19th-century efforts to repress the Plains Indians.
Some historians speculate that the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the last major confrontation in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.
The causes of the Sand Creek massacre were rooted in the long conflict for control of the Great Plains of eastern Colorado. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 guaranteed ownership of the area north of the Arkansas River to the Nebraska border to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe.
Tim Giago, Lakota, renowned journalist, publisher and founder of publications such as the Lakota Times, Native Sun News and Indian Country Today, has told ICTMN he has signed an agreement to purchase the historic site of Wounded Knee from James Czywczynski for $3.9 million.
Modern scholars estimate that between 250 and 300 Miniconjou were killed in total, almost half of whom were women and children. At least 25 U.S. soldiers also died, many likely fallen to friendly fire.
Why was Wounded Knee, South Dakota, a significant place for American Indians? It was the site of a massacre of Lakota Sioux by US troops in 1890. Only the occupation of Wounded Knee resulted in the deaths of several people.
The so-called Plains Wars essentially ended later in 1876, when American troops trapped 3,000 Sioux at the Tongue River valley; the tribes formally surrendered in October, after which the majority of members returned to their reservations.
Crazy Horse and the allied leaders surrendered on 5 May 1877. Fought between the government of the United States and the Sioux, Lakota and Cheyenne, the Great Sioux War revolved around the desire of the US to seize the Black Hills of Dakota, where gold had recently been discovered.
After the Battle at the Greasy Grass River, Sitting Bull and the other leaders faced many decisions. They decided to split up into smaller bands that could move faster and hunt more effectively. Most of the Lakotas and Cheyennes remained in eastern Montana to hunt for the rest of the summer.
The final battle between Native American fighters and U.S. Army forces occurred 100 years ago in Bear Valley near the Arizona border with Mexico.
The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., May through October.
As “Wounded Knee”, an 870-acre (350 ha) area was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1965. The National Historic Landmark nomination was drafted by 1990, and a consultation with Indian representatives then arranged.
The site of the massacre lies in what today is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There’s a memorial panel and a small cemetery. In the nearby little town of Wall, South Dakota, USA, there’s a museum about the Wounded Knee massacre and its historical context, which is well worth visiting when in the area.