It was the 29th day of the Moon of
Popping Trees (December) in 1890. Peace was sleeping within the warm
winter wind under the murderous eyes of Gatling and Hotchkiss guns, dug
into the ridges surrounding the Lakota encampment. Chief Spotted Elk
("Bigfoot" was the name soldiers gave him), flying the flag of truce
within his encampment, was dying from pneumonia.
His people were dying from fear of the white soldiers who had come to take
revenge for the defeat of their unit, the 7th Cavalry, at Little Bighorn
in The Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe (June) in 1876. All the
soldiers needed was the smallest excuse to begin the massacre.
A single shot, according to a reporter on the scene, was fired from the
soldiers, and with that, the smallest excuse was manufactured. When the
rain of ammunition ceased, over 300 Lakota people lay dead from gunfire,
cannon fire, or manual butchering within the encampment and within
adjacent ravines up to two miles away.
The dead were Lakota men who had been disarmed before the weapons fire
began, women, many with babes in arms or waiting to be born, and children
The soldiers walked away from their crime against humanity and left the
dead where they lay. That night, the sky cried snow and the warm winter
wind of peace was supplanted by the cold winter wind of grief. For four
days, the dead laid where they were, frozen into grotesque shapes of
Finally, the soldiers came and loaded the dead like cordwood in wagons,
and hauled their loads to hastily dug mass graves, where the dead were
thrown in - the bodies of men, women, and children whose spirits walked
the encampment and ravines, wailing.
The mass graves were filled and the soldiers left. Twenty-seven
Congressional Medals of Honor [sic] for "bravery" were awarded to the
soldiers who participated in that heinous murder for their parts in
fighting the allegedly hostile "war parties" attacking them that day.
The spirits of the slain continue their walking and wailing. Red Willow in
great profusion, grown from the blood of all those who fell along the
banks of the creek that day, still grows thickly along Wounded Knee Creek.
Peace never again slept within the winds that blew along Wounded Knee
The Massacre of Wounded Knee became a symbol for my people, the Lakota
Nation, of the lies and deceit of the "Great White Father in Washington"
and the U.S. Government.
Their words of encouragement and promises of help and peace were seen for
the malevolent intent hidden behind the facade. As more and more land
promised to us forever was taken away on the whims of Congress, our place
to live became smaller and our pain and confusion grew.
The mass graves at Wounded Knee became a symbol to us to never forget and
never to trust again. The voices of our slain relatives can still be
heard, crying out from soil, the waters, the air, and we vow time and time
again to never forget, to be strong, to help our nation heal and live well
Now the U.S. Government wants to take from us 1,800 acres (including
"lands, and all mineral rights, water rights, easements, permanent
structures, and fixtures on such land") to turn our sacred site, the
burial grounds, and "the historic landscape of Wounded Knee" into a
national park. The government claims that it wants to do this so that it
can "express its commitment to acknowledge and learn from our history,
including the Wounded Knee Massacre.
In order to provide a proper foundation for building an ever more humane,
enlightened, and just society for the future (quoted from the enabling
legislation). " To do so, the U.S. Government wants to remove and relocate
any individuals and families living within that 1,800 acres and restore
the landscape to the government's vision of 1890 historical conditions.
Any buildings and fixtures currently within the 1,800 acres that are not
found to coincide with that vision will be destroyed.
The government also wants to build a visitors' center, an amphitheater,
roads, and trails, and to relocate the three main roads that intersect at
the current Wounded Knee memorial and one mass grave site. These
activities are wholly inappropriate for a cemetery and burial site and
will disturb the spirits of the people buried there.
The enabling legislation to create the national park was introduced
simultaneously to both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives
on February 9, 1995, by the Congressional Delegation from South Dakota. On
February 15, 1995, HR877 was referred to the House Subcommittee on
National Parks, Forests, and Lands, where it remains at this time. The
Senate bill, S382, was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs,
and the House bill, HR877, was referred to the House Committee on
Resources, where it remains at this time.
The opinions of the residents of Wounded Knee and the members of the
Wounded Knee Landowners Association were not solicited prior to this bill
being written or submitted, nor were we invited to or notified of the one
Congressional hearing that occurred on this issue.
We stand opposed to the creation of this national park for all of the
reasons given here and many others. We are asking you to help us in our
fight to save this sacred site from development. Please join your voice
with ours in opposing the creation of this national park. Write your
representatives and senators. Write the members of the Congressional
committee and subcommittee currently reviewing the bills.
It is most effective to generate a large number of brief e-mail postings
or postal service letters that simply state little more than the
following: "Please vote NO to HR877/S382. Signed, (your name, postal
address, telephone number)." Write letters to the editor of your local
For more information, please contact Gerald Ice, P.O. Box 199, Wounded
Knee, SD, 57794, (605) 867-1591.
The Medal of Honor, is the highest award of the military, for uncommon
valor and bravery in battle with an armed enemy, NOT FOR A MASSACRE of
unarmed people who had surrendered and were under a white flag of truce.
There can be no healing until these medals are recalled. As long as they
are still being honored by the government, there is the shame and disgrace
of it, for all of us to bear.