The Story Of Wounded Knee Essay

2714 words - 11 pages

“What have the ‘hostiles done? It seems to be so far a white man’s war” (Qtd. in Hines 30). The Indians that were killed at Wounded Knee committed no crime on their reservation in the time before the battle (Hines 36), they only practiced religion. The Ghost Dance movement resulted in a massacre at Wounded Knee which had a lasting impact on many people.

The religion of the Ghost Dance started with a man named Wovoka. On January 1, 1889, he had a ‘vision’ during a solar eclipse in Nevada (Peterson 27). It brought a message of hope to the oppressed Indians of only the Indians living. The Indians called Wovoka the ‘Messiah’ (“The Ghost Dance” par. 1) and it was believed that he would bring a “day of deliverance” (Phillips 16) to the Indians. The messiah was said to return to the earth so that all the white men would vanish and the buffalo and their ancestors would return (Peterson 27). Wovoka’s vision was that:
Indians who danced the Ghost Dance would rise up into the sky while God covered the white man with a new earth. Then the Ghost Dancers would join their ancestors in a land filled with buffalo and game. The water would be sweet, the grass would be green, and there would be no white men. (“The Ghost Dance” par. 5)

The Indians who took part of this ritual would fast and take sweat baths. After, everyone painted their face and threaded eagle feathers in their hair. They wore muslin shirts depicting eagle feathers, crows and other meaningful symbols (Peterson 27). Some believed that these shirts called Ghost Shirts would be able to deflect bullets (Robertson par. 2). A medicine man said before the massacre that, “The prairie is large, and their bullets will fly over the prairies and will not come toward us. If they do come toward us, they will float away like dust in the air” (Qtd. in Peterson 22). The Indians danced in an attempt “to save the earth and bring back the original creatures to live upon it” (Flood 30). The Ghost Dance gave many Indians hope, and that hope drove around three thousand Indians to the Pine Lake Reservation also known as the Stronghold (Phillips par. 5). In response to the Indians’ movement and the Ghost Dance, the government sent half of the U.S. army to the Indian reservation (Robertson par. 3). The government felt threatened by the mass of Indians. To lessen the threat, the government decided to target who they thought were the leaders of the Ghost Dance.

Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota chief (Robertson par. 5) was decided a threat by the government, even though he was not a Ghost Dance leader (Koster 25). On December 15, 1890 (Robertson par. 5), Indian police came to arrest Sitting Bull. He agreed to go with the police peacefully (Flood 34), but the other Indians in his tribe did not and tried to stop the arrest. Catch-the-Bear shouted, “Let us protect our chief!” He then proceeded to fire his gun at Bull Head, an Indian police, hitting him in the side. Bull Head’s weapon discharged...

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