Thursday, April 18, 2013

Before Leaving South Dakota: Paying our Respect

Jon's great grandfather, in the Fall of 1890, would have past by very close to what would be, in just a few months, on the morning of December 29, 1890, the sight of Wounded Knee..Battle or Massacre, depended on who is writing the history of the last US Calvary's campaign against the Indians...
106 Warriors, 250 Women and Children camped below 470 cavalry with a battery of Hotchkiss guns, a early type of machine gun.
146 Sioux were killed including many women and children. 36 soldier were killed, many from the "friendly fire" of the machine guns.
Googling "Wounded Knee" you will get many a website highlighting the events of that cold winter morning...
Stopping at the sign, the descendants of those buried up on the hill had erected, we were greeted by Dakota Highhawk, whose mother and brother were waiting in a minivan near by, he greeted us and told us of his families connections, great something grandfathers being in the fight, while we read the large sign that told of the events leading up to the massacre, Highhawk brought his young son from the minvan, who entertained himself on a hotwheel in the parking lot...

We wanted to buy some of their buffalo bone jewelery, though we only had a hundred dollar bill, to large for them to break, but they finally decided to take our check, though it was a inconvenience to get somewhere that would cash it, perhaps the nearest Walmart to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, I don't know...

Being invited to drive up to the cemetery, now surrounding the mass grave the victims of Wounded Knee had been placed in, we quietly walked around the chain link fence and granite marker next to the long rectangled shaped grave...
 


More now rest up on the hill of Wounded Knee, many with the four colors marking the four directions, sacred to the Sioux....

Looking out on the Pine Ridge Reservation, it had much in common with the Ute or Navajo reservations here in the Southwest, some of it a sad reminder of the great nations we, as in the US Government wanted to take livelihood from and as a old general said back in the 1800s , "Make Wards of the State."
 

It also made me think of the New York times article I mentioned in my previous post, see here, that if a child's connection to their family heritage, to the point the article declares telling family history to our kids, is one of the strongest indicator of their well being, well, then are we surprised by a People such as the Native Americans being lost. When fighting them out right didn't work, we started taking children out of their mother's arms to Indian Schools and took their stories away from them, beat them if they spoke their tongue, cut their hair and tried to civilize them. Now, may they be encourage to tell the history that is not lost yet to their children. As a teacher of Native American children, I cam tell you the ones that do have that connection to their past are the once I don't lay in bed at night worrying about!





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