Sins of Omission

Bury the Facts at Wounded Knee

At Wounded Knee Creek, on December 29, 1890, the last fight of any size or significance between the U.S. Army and American Indians occurred.  Although a terrible tragedy involving the loss of Indian women and children, the battle has been wildly mischaracterized, especially by those bent on making the Indian an innocent victim of the Evil White Man.  The real story is far more complex—and far more interesting.  It begins with the Ghost Dance.

Responsible for the ritualistic dance that ultimately led to the Battle of Wounded Knee was Wovoka, a Paiute from the Walker River Reservation in western Nevada.  As a young boy, he was adopted by the Wilsons—a white family who farmed and ranched near the reservation—and reared as Jack Wilson, just another of the Wilson boys.  In 1885, he began having visions and preaching that Jesus would return, this time for the Indians.  Now calling himself Wovoka, he said the white man would be swept from the earth in a great upheaval, but Indians who performed the Ghost Dance would be lifted into the sky and suspended there until the cataclysm was over.  The earth would be covered  by a new layer of soil, sweet grass, and great herds of buffalo.  Dead warriors would return to life.

Not many listened to Wovoka until his white brothers concluded that Jack needed a miracle.  Wovoka told the Paiute of the Walker River Reservation...

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