Wounded Knee - Much More
Than Gun Confiscation
Exclusive to Rense
The past few months I've received many emails referring
to gun confiscation and the Wounded Knee massacre, which happened
on December 29, 1890. But, there is a lot more to the story as
A good friend sent me the 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee' DVD;
a made for cable film. You
can watch the trailer here. That movie is based on the book
of the same title by Dee Brown. While given generally excellent
reviews, some have pointed
out a few discrepancies with what's in the film and what is
"So, let us undo some of the most important snafus first:
"The film opens with a young Ohiyesa -- Charles Eastman living
in the village at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Eastman was
never there. "Sitting Bull physically lashes his men for attempting
to flee Canada for their old homeland. This was never the case.
Sitting Bull did use the akicita (similar to law enforcement officers)
to keep people from leaving Canada. The film accurately portrays
why Sitting Bull took the actions he did. Sitting Bull surrenders
at Standing Rock instead of Ft. Buford. Charles Eastman was not
the right-hand man to Dawes in developing what would later become
Not having read Ms. Brown's book, I have no way to judge, but
I do highly recommend watching the DVD. The cinematography is
excellent, similiar to Dances with Wolves starring Kevin Costner,
which took Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards in 1990.
I believe the producers made a good decision not to use 'big'
Hollywood names, athough a couple of the characters are known
names; Adian Quinn and Anna Paquin. It's easy to sterotype actors
and actresses, so using not so famous people made it more realistic.
Just as a parental warning, there are two very violent scenes
in the movie. Little Big Horn where Native Americans did the killing
and Wounded Knee where Native Americans are slaughtered. It's
not pretty; both are a terrible stain in our history.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee deals with the clash between
the U.S. government and the Lakota who were led by Lakota Sioux
Chief Sitting Bull. His actual death came at the hands of an Indian
policeman at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota; he
was shot and killed.
Most Americans have some basic understanding of what happened
to Native Americans when the U.S. government decided to round
them up, steal their land and put the many different tribes onto
"indian reservations". Naturally, that didn't sit well with Native
Americans and so they fought back. But, being out gunned and out
numbered, the days of freedom to roam the open land came to a
bloody, violent end.
I would say it was all about greed. As the railroads and land
barons made their way across the territories, the only thing that
stood in the way of "progess" were "the indians". When gold was
discovered in the Black Hills in the mid-1870s, what was once
the land of free men, women and children became a war zone. Wounded
Knee was about rounding up free men and women and forcing them
to stay "contained" on reservations. The U.S. government entered
into treaties with tribes and five minutes later broke them. Round
them all up so as not to allow "red men" to mix with polite society.
I don't think anyone can deny that was the mindset back then.
One would think history could have been written in a different
way, but it was not to be and too many people died.
One of the more interesting things my friend mentioned was to
look at the object around the neck of Chief Sitting Bull in the
movie. It's a crucifix prompting some to wonder if
Sitting Bull was Catholic or did he merely find the crucifix
an ornament he wanted to wear? Interesting question so
I did some research:
"Iyotake, 1831-1890) one of the most famous of the Unkpapa Sioux,
a Lakota Medicine Man and Chief, was considered the last Sioux
to surrender to a land-grabbing, aggressive and oppressive US
Government. He is famous for his tribe’s defeat of Colonel George
Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Greasy Grass (aka the Little
Big Horn or Custer’s Last Stand). In his later life he converted
to the Catholic Church being instructed by Bishop Marty of Dakota,
and, after his death, was buried in a Catholic graveyard."
What has always bothered me is the way Native Americans were treated
by so-called "Christians" simply because their skin was a little
different in color or that they "looked" different. As with slavery,
until the day I die, I will never understand how people could
own another human being or simply shoot Native Americans - children,
women, it didn't matter - just because they were different.
I know myself and I know had I been alive during the slave period,
I would never, ever have condoned owning another human being.
Yes, I know the history of the south and I know black Americans
also owned slaves. That doesn't make it right. I also know there
is no way I could have ever treated Native Americans the way they
were treated by those who came to take from them. It took a long,
long time until Native Americans were treated with decency and
The massacre at Wounded Knee is a perfect example of mankind losing
its humanity. Tragically, it continues in various parts of the
world on a daily basis.
One of the worst things back then and now is the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA). The alleged intention was to "help" Native Americans
after they were rounded up like cattle, but in some regards, they
worse by BIA agents than other people:
"In a powerful and moving speech at a ceremony commemorating the
Bureau of Indian Affairs' l75th anniversary, Assistant Secretary-Indian
Affairs Kevin Gover today apologized for the ethnic cleansing
and cultural an nihilation the BIA had wrought against American
Indian and Alaska Native people in years past. Speaking before
an estimated audience of 300 people, most of whom were BIA employees,
he observed that the event was not an occasion for celebration,
but a time for reflection and contrition.
"We desperately wish that we could change this history," Gover
said, "but of course we cannot. On behalf of the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, I extend this formal apology to Indian people for the
historical conduct of this agency."
"Gover pointed out that the agency's lengthy cultural assault
on American Indians and Alaska Natives for most of its history,
particularly on the children sent to BIA boarding schools and
their parents, has yielded a trauma of shame, fear, and anger
that has passed from generation to generation fueling the alcohol
and drug abuse and domestic violence that continues to plague
Indian country. "These wrongs," he said, "must be acknowledged
if the healing is to begin."
That was back in 2000. Not much has changed. Conditions on many
reservations are still poor; they are racked with violence and
alcohol issues. For decades, I've been a firm supporter of abolishing
the BIA and turning over the 320 reservations to Native Americans
and let them manage their own lives. With 55.7 million acres,
the possibilities for financial growth are endless. Some Native
Americans disagree with me, but if you give an adult a baby bottle,
how on earth do you expect them to be an adult?
Native Americans have "come a long way" over the centuries and
believe it or not, what are referred to as Indian Casinos. have
in some cases gone a long way in helping Native American tribes
build their future and live fulfilling lives while not abandoning
their heritage and culture. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was
passed in 1988, which set the stage for casino revenues owned
by Native American tribes. Billions of dollars since then have
help some with education and infrastructure, but a lot of factors
have hampered growth efforts. In 2006, the benevolent in Congress
passed new laws making it easier for some tribes protect their
own casino interests from those tribes that are outside reservations.
But, not everyone has benefited from Indian Gaming:
Not Paying Off for Indians
"The plaque outside the Apache Gold Casino declares the $40 million
hotel, golf and gambling resort has “helped enable the San Carlos
Apache Tribe to give a better quality of life to its tribal members.”
But seven years after the casino opened — and four years after
the debut of a glittering new complex — many Apache families still
crowd in small apartments or mobile homes. The reservation’s unemployment
rate has climbed from 42 percent in 1991 to 58 percent in 1997,
the latest year available. The number of tribal members receiving
welfare has jumped 20 percent. And the tribal government still
grants home sites without water and sewer connections.
“We get no help from the casino, no money, nothing,” said Pauline
Randall, 75, a lifelong resident of San Carlos.
$8 Billion and Little Change
"Similar complaints echo across the 1.8 million acre reservation
in east Arizona, but they could just as easily be heard on many
other Indian reservations across the country that have built casinos
in the past decade. Despite an explosion of Indian gambling revenues
— from $100 million in 1988 to $8.26 billion a decade later —
an Associated Press computer analysis of federal unemployment,
poverty and public assistance records indicates the majority of
American Indians have benefited little."
I don't claim to be an expert on Native American affairs, but
it seems to me there needs to be better leadership and allocation
of money -- especially for education. Kids who read succeed and
children given a proper education have a much better chance at
making it in life as we know. A couple of decades ago in a chance
encounter, I was priviledged to meet and speak with the late Wilma
Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Her mission was to bring her people out of poverty and become
Unfortunately, like so many industries, Indian gaming has suffered
financially since 2008:
American Tribes Seek More Federal Aid As Casinos Struggle
better financial times, Pequots distributed stipends of more than
$100,000 a year to adult tribe members
"The Pequots at one point were so thriving, they distributed
stipends of more than $100,000 a year to adult members. But in
2008 their financial situation changed after taking on a costly
expansion of the 30-story MGM Grand hotel and casino just as the
recession hit. The next year, the tribe defaulted on debt exceeding
$2 billion, the AP story said."
I think there should be some audits of casinos nationwide to see
where they're going wrong and what can be done to turn things
around. Audits done by the tribes using outside firms, not the
U.S. government. Billions of dollars and little change is not
progress. With all the talented, educated Native Americans in
this country, I do believe better can get done.
This Site Served