The Wounded Knee Incident began on February 27, 1973.
The event[edit | edit source]
The events of 1973 erupted from tensions within the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) people who make the Pine Ridge Reservation their home. The Oglalas were largely divided into the those supporting the reservation governing body recognized by the United States government and those who practiced a more traditional form of life in the outlying areas of the reservation.
The government recognized the governing body led by tribal chairman Richard "Dick" Wilson. The traditional Oglalas felt that Wilson was distributing government funds to his friends and family in Pine Ridge Village while ignoring those living in the backcountry of the reservation. They also accused Wilson of using the private police force named the Guardians of the Oglala Nation ,often called the GOON squad, to terrorize the traditionalist Oglalas and maintain his power. Also during this time Dick Wilson made several illegal land deals with the tacit support and knowledge of the US government, the land was known to have deposits of uraninum and was considered a "National Security matter" not to be left in the hands of the Lakota people. These activities along with the repression supported and directed by the US federal government were directly responsible for the events that preceded the Wounded Knee Stand-off.
To oppose Wilson and his government, the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) formed to represent the traditional Oglalas. In 1973, at Calico Hall, the OSCRO met with representatives of the American Indian Movement (AIM), an International Native Liberation movement. This meeting precipitated the protest at Wounded Knee that became the standoff.
On Feb. 27, the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota was seized by followers of the AIM, who staged a 71-day occupation of the area. In response to the incident, the US Marshals Service with support from the US military stepped on to the Wounded Knee site to contain and resolve the situation.
Both forces signed an agreement on May 5 stating that the individuals involved would not face reprisals by the US government or its agents, and that the underlying issue of land and self-government would be fairly addressed. The siege is considered to have ended on May 8. Two protesters were killed at Wounded Knee: Frank Clearwater on April 17 and Lawrence "Buddy" LaMonte, a Vietnam veteran, on April 27. U.S. Marshal Lloyd Grimm (District of Nebraska) was seriously wounded, as was an FBI agent. After the agreement was signed members of AIM as well as the traditional people who supported the actions taken at Wounded Knee had the agreement abrogated almost immediately and several more years of violence would ensue. The land deal was secretly signed on the same day as the Jumping Bull ranch incident occurred.
Sadly, although the standoff raised awareness of issues concerning Native Americans, it also ushered in an era of reprisals as Wilson, supported by the US government reasserted his control over the reservation.