FANDOM

278,285 Pages

The Wounded Knee Massacre (also called the Battle of Wounded Knee) was a domestic massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians, mostly women and children, by soldiers of the United States Army. It occurred on December 29, 1890,[1] near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota, following a botched attempt to disarm the Lakota camp.

The previous day, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside intercepted Spotted Elk's band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them 5 miles (8.0 km) westward to Wounded Knee Creek, where they made camp. The remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, led by Colonel James W. Forsyth, arrived and surrounded the encampment. The regiment was supported by a battery of four Hotchkiss mountain guns.[2]

On the morning of December 29, the U.S. Cavalry troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it.[3] Simultaneously, an old man was performing a ritual called the Ghost Dance. Black Coyote's rifle went off at that point, and the U.S. army began shooting at the Native Americans. The Lakota warriors fought back, but many had already been stripped of their guns and disarmed.[4]

By the time the massacre was over, between 250 and 300 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded (4 men and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300.[5] Twenty-five soldiers also died, and thirty-nine were wounded (six of the wounded later died).[6] The Wounded Knee Battlefield, site of the massacre, has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.[1] In 1990, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed a resolution on the historical centennial formally expressing "deep regret" for the massacre.[7]

Medal of HonorEdit

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.[8]

Medal of Honor controversyEdit

For this 1890 conflict, the army awarded twenty Medals of Honor, its highest commendation.[9] In the governmental Nebraska State Historical Society's summer 1994 quarterly journal, Jerry Green construes that pre-1916 Medals of Honor were awarded more liberally; however, "the number of medals does seem disproportionate when compared to those awarded for other battles." Quantifying, he compares the three awarded for the Battle of Bear Paw Mountain's five-day siege, to the twenty awarded for this short and one-sided action.[9]

Historian Will G. Robinson notes that, in contrast, only three Medals of Honor were awarded among the 64,000 South Dakotans who fought for four years of World War II.[10]

Native American activists have urged the medals be withdrawn, calling them "medals of dishonor". According to Lakota tribesman William Thunder Hawk, "The Medal of Honor is meant to reward soldiers who act heroically. But at Wounded Knee, they didn't show heroism; they showed cruelty." In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions condemning the Medals of Honor awards and called on the U.S. government to rescind them.[11] In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions condemning the military awards and called on the U.S. government to rescind them.[11]

Some of the citations on the medals awarded to the troopers at Wounded Knee state that they went in pursuit of Lakota who were trying to escape or hide.[12] Another citation was for "conspicuous bravery in rounding up and bringing to the skirmish line a stampeded pack mule."[9]

In 1990, the United States Congress apologized to the descendants of those killed at Wounded Knee but didn't approve to revoke the medals.[13]

In June 2019, a bill was proposed by the United States Congress to rescind the medals that were received for this action.[14] The bill, referred to as the "The Remove the Stain Act" is being sponsored by representatives Denny Heck, (D-Washington), Deb Haaland, (D-New Mexico), and Paul Cook, (R-California).[14]

RecipientsEdit

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes
Austin, William G.William G. Austin Army Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry While the Indians were concealed in a ravine, assisted men on the skirmish line, directing their fire, etc., and using every effort to dislodge the enemy.
Clancy, John E.John E. Clancy Army Musician Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 1st US Artillery Twice voluntarily rescued wounded comrades under fire of the enemy.
Feaster, MosheimMosheim Feaster Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry Extraordinary gallantry.
Ernest Albert Garlington 1911 Garlington, Ernest A.Ernest A. Garlington Army First Lieutenant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 7th U.S. Cavalry Distinguished gallantry.
John C. Gresham Gresham, John C.John C. Gresham Army First Lieutenant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 7th US Cavalry Voluntarily led a party into a ravine to dislodge Sioux Indians concealed therein. He was wounded during this action.
Hamilton, Mathew H.Mathew H. Hamilton Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company G, 7th U.S. Cavalry Bravery in action.
Hartzog, Joshija B.Joshija B. Hartzog Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 1st US Artillery Went to the rescue of the commanding officer who had fallen severely wounded, picked him up, and carried him out of range of the hostile guns.
Hawthorne, Harry L.Harry L. Hawthorne Army Second Lieutenant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 2nd U.S. Artillery Distinguished conduct in battle with hostile Indians .
Hillock, Marvin C.Marvin C. Hillock Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company B, 7th US Cavalry Distinguished bravery.
Hobday, GeorgeGeorge Hobday Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company A, 7th US Cavalry Conspicuous and gallant conduct in battle.
Loyd, GeorgeGeorge Loyd Army Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company I, 7th US Cavalry Bravery, especially after having been severely wounded through the lung.
McMillan, Albert W.Albert W. McMillan Army Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 7th US Cavalry While engaged with Indians concealed in a ravine, he assisted the men on the skirmish line, directed their fire, encouraged them by example, and used every effort to dislodge the enemy.
Sullivan, ThomasThomas Sullivan Army Private Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 7th US Cavalry Conspicuous bravery in action against Indians concealed in a ravine.
Toy, Frederick E.Frederick E. Toy Army First Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company G, 7th US Cavalry Bravery.
Trautman, JacobJacob Trautman Army First Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company I, 7th US Cavalry Killed a hostile Indian at close quarters, and, although entitled to retirement from service, remained to the close of the campaign.
Ward, JamesJames Ward Army Sergeant Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company B, 7th US Cavalry Continued to fight after being severely wounded.
Paul H. Weinert c.1906 Weinert, Paul H.Paul H. Weinert Army Corporal Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 Company E, 1st US Artillery Taking the place of his commanding officer who had fallen severely wounded, he gallantly served his piece, after each flre advancing it to a better position.
Ziegner, HermannHermann Ziegner Army Private Wounded Knee Creek and White Clay Creek, South Dakota Dec 29, 1890 – Dec 30, 1890 Troop E, 7th US Cavalry Conspicuous bravery

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "National Historic Landmarks Program: Wounded Knee". National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=540&ResourceType=Site. Retrieved August 28, 2019. 
  2. Liggett, Lorie (1998). "Wounded Knee Massacre – An Introduction". Bowling Green State University. http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/woundedknee/WKIntro.html. Retrieved August 28, 2019. 
  3. Parsons, Randy. "The Wounded Knee Massacre – December 1890". Lastoftheindependents.com. http://www.lastoftheindependents.com/wounded.htm. 
  4. "PBS – The West – Like Grass Before the Sickle". https://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/program/episodes/eight/likegrass.htm. 
  5. "Plains Humanities: Wounded Knee Massacre". http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.war.056. Retrieved August 28, 2019. "resulted in the deaths of more than 250, and possibly as many as 300, Native Americans." 
  6. Wounded Knee & the Ghost Dance Tragedy by Jack Utter, p. 25 Publisher: National Woodlands Publishing Company; 1st edition (1991) Language: English ISBN 0-9628075-1-6
  7. AP (October 29, 1990). "Congress Adjourns – Century Afterward, Apology For Wounded Knee Massacre". Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Sd); United States: NYTimes.com. https://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/29/us/congress-adjourns-century-afterward-apology-for-wounded-knee-massacre.html. 
  8. "A Brief History — The Medal of Honor". Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Department of Defense. August 8, 2006. http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/pis/med_of_honor.html. Retrieved August 28, 2019. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Green, Jerry (1994). "The Medals of Wounded Knee". Nebraska State Historical Society History. http://nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/history/full-text/NH1994MedalsWKnee.pdf. 
  10. Doctor Sally Wagner Testifies At Wounded Knee Hearings Part Two.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Lakota~WOUNDED KNEE: A Campaign to Rescind Medals: story, pictures and information". Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/page/1299_lakotawounded_knee_a_campaign_to/. Retrieved August 28, 2019. 
  12. "U.S. Army Indian Wars, Medal of Honor citations". History.army.mil. https://history.army.mil/html/moh/indianwars.html. Retrieved August 28, 2019. 
  13. Kali Robinson (26 Jun 2019). "Lawmakers Seek to Revoke Wounded Knee Medals for US Soldiers". The associated press via Military.com. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/06/26/lawmakers-seek-revoke-wounded-knee-medals-us-soldiers.html. Retrieved September 1, 2019. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Kenney Caitlin (June 25, 2019). "House lawmakers propose bill to rescind Medals of Honor awarded for Wounded Knee Massacre". Stars and Stripes. https://www.stripes.com/house-lawmakers-propose-bill-to-rescind-medals-of-honor-awarded-for-wounded-knee-massacre-1.587558. Retrieved September 1, 2019. 
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.