Recount of the massacre at Wounded Knee
Tears and Lullabies From Heaven
Dream on, my warrior.
Mother is here to warm you
until the sun comes again.
The eerie lullaby seems to echo in the wind every December at Wounded Knee since 1890 when over 300 Sioux were massacred there. Men, women and children alike.
Some believe, when the rain falls, it is Sitting Bull and Big Foot, the Sioux war chiefs and their warriors, weeping in heaven.
Once, free to roam at will, Big Foot and his camp were now reliant upon Indian Agents for their survival on reservations. The main source of food, the mighty buffalo, was now almost extinct.
One day, a shaman came along. They called him Wovoka. Desperate to return to their former way of living, they believed the lies that Wovoka spun so deceitfully off his tongue. He told them that the dead would join the living and once again there would be plentiful game for them to hunt. He said the prairies would be restored and the white man would disappear. If they danced the Ghost Dance, these things would come to pass. It is unknown whether Wovoka believed these things himself.
The Sioux, believing in the power of Ghost Dance, dressed in colorful shirts bearing images of buffalo and eagles. They danced the Ghost Dance assuming that their shirts would protect them from the soldier's bullets. Soon, more and more tribes were wildly dancing this dance. The white men became frightened, thinking the Indians were crazy and out of control. They sent a message to Washington, asking for help.
Word came back from Washington that Sitting Bull and the other leaders should be arrested and held at a military post until things settled down. In the attempt to arrest Sitting Bull, he was killed. Now the white man was on the hunt for Big Foot.
Big Foot heard about the murder of Sitting Bull and took his tribe south to Pine Ridge Reservation where he felt they would find protection. The white men caught up with them at Wounded Knee where Big Foot and the soldiers had a pow wow. Big Foot was very ill with pneumonia, and dying. The Indians had acquired firearms of their own. Someone fired a shot and chaos erupted in the camp as the tribe scattered to find shelter. Many were killed as they ran, others were killed when the soldiers fired into the teepees. When it was all over, three hundred Sioux had lost their lives and twenty-five soldiers were killed.
A blizzard swept down upon the land, perhaps a sign from above of anger.
I can't help but wonder what life in America would be today if we had taken lessons from those Indian tribes throughout the country that we were so bent on destroying. Was it really fear of them that made us literally destroy them, or greed for the land? Where is the conscience among men who could stand there and kill men, women and children, in the dead of winter? Was there not one man among them to cry out in their defense?
The buffalo, one of the grandest American beasts, a staple of food for the Indians, was killed and left to rot just for the sake of killing. What is the pleasure in that?
I grew up in a rural area of Wisconsin. It's not so rural any more. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on super highways just so everyone can get somewhere a few minutes earlier. If the money were spent to make the highways safer, that I would applaud. But are they? What is a tree – a hundred trees worth? We complain about the deer who are a danger on the road. Who pushed them out of their environment? Bear and cougar sometimes get into trouble in urban areas; areas that used to be home to them.
Of course, it is always the white man's desire to explore, invent, build and expand. Human nature will not be denied; we have set our path in life – where will it lead us in another hundred years? I won't be here to find out, but I do worry for my descendants.
What does the future hold for us?
I'd really like to know.
Will we be sitting side by side,
as all the nations grow?
Will my descendants see a deer,
or will they be extinct?
Will grizzy bears still roam mountains?
Of this, my mind must think.
I hope the beauty will sustain.
I hope the trees survive.
May you still stand beside a lake
and thank God that you're alive!
The above story starts with a Kautauta that I created (5,7,7)
The reference to the lullaby in the wind and the rain are fictional.
The story of Sitting Bull and Big Foot is historic.
Credit for the story and reference belong to: