Wounded Knee Massacre
I stopped a few miles south of Porcupine, where Chief Big Foot, suffering from pneumonia and starving, along with his 100 or so lightly armed Hunkpapa and Minneconjou warriors, and the 200 or more old men, women and children who accompanied them, was surrounded in the snow in 1890. They had left Standing Rock after the assassination of Sitting Bull, the great Lakota medicine man, on December 15 of that year.
They made their way to what they hoped would be the relative safety of Pine Ridge, and the protection of Chief Red Cloud. They surrendered to Major Samuel Whiteside of the 7th Cavalry on December 28, and were forced-marched to the nearby village of Wounded Knee. Big Foot was given medical treatment.
The next day, his warriors were being disarmed of their ancient carbines and rusty pistols when a shot was allegedly fired by a deaf Lakota man named Black Coyote, who either did not understand the order to disarm or protested he had paid a lot for his rifle. All out slaughter ensued, as the army opened up on its own troops and the defenseless Lakota, men, women and children, with a battery of Hotchkiss cannons mounted on a hillside 400 yards away.
I went to the cemetery at Wounded Knee where Big Foot lies in a mass grave with the 300 Lakota who died with him that day, or who froze to death in the blizzard in the days following the massacre. Twenty Congressional Medals of Honor were given out to the US troops who conducted the massacre, more than for any other battle in US history, more than for entire wars. The Lakota continue to call on Congress to rescind those shameful medals.
Dave Detmold who biked from Mashpee to Standing Rock is committed to raising issues facing Native Americans at Standing Rock and the violation of Indian Treaty Rights.