This regrettable and tragic clash of arms,
occurring December 29,
1890, was the last significant engagement between
soldiers on the
North American Continent, ending nearly four centuries of warfare between
westward-bound Americans and the indigenous peoples.
The event was
precipitated by individual indiscretion and was not an organized
premeditation, and although the majority of the participants on both sides had not intended to use their
arms, the tense and confused situation ended tragically. After the haze of
gun smoke that hung over the battlefield was cleared, some of the facts have
been obscured; but, the the action more resembles a massacre than a battle.
Today, it serves as an example of national guilt for the mistreatment of
Opening of the fight at Wounded Knee, by
Frederic Remington, 1891.
This image is available for photographic
arrival of troops on the Pine Ridge Reservation in
South Dakota, to quiet the
Ghost Dance disorders of 1890, provided the climate for the
Indian police killed
Chief Sitting Bull while trying to arrest him on
December 15th on the Standing Rock Reservation, his Hunkpapa band of the
tribe grew agitated and troop reinforcements arrived.
When 200 of the
Indians fled southward
to the Cheyenne River, military officials feared a
Hunkpapa-Miniconjou coalition. Most of the Standing Rock fugitives allied
for a time with the Miniconjou Chief Hump and his 400 followers before
joining them in surrendering at Fort Bennett,
About 38 of the Hunkpapa joined a more militant group of 350 or so
Ghost Dancers led by