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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bringing Democracy to Wounded Knee

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Here's what the column "2day in History" in today's Oakland Tribune says:
In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.
Well, that's kind of a sanitized description of what happened. And, yes, there's disagreement about what happened. But here are some things that aren't mentioned and are agreed upon:
  • The troops were sent to disarm AND move the Sioux to Omaha, Nebraska.
  • It's not agreed what started the shooting. Some say it started with the Indians; others say it was the soldiers. But what is agreed is that chaos and cruelty followed. It left 290 Sioux men, women, and children dead. Approximately 25 soldiers were killed and historians agree that most of these were killed from "friendly fire."
  • The soldiers fired on non-combatants.
Can you imagine yourself raising your rifle and aiming at an unarmed woman or a child ... perhaps many children? And your comrades are doing the same thing?

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