When former Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Steele decided to make the
destruction of Wounded Knee a day to celebrate he went against the principles
of the majority of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
In February of 1973 Wounded Knee was forcibly occupied by members of the
American Indian Movement. John Steele unwittingly, or maybe not, decided that
this brutal assault upon Lakota families living at Wounded Knee was a day of “liberation.”
Why did the Gildersleeve
family, the owners of the Wounded Knee Trading Post,
and the 30 families living at the village of Wounded Knee, have to be
“liberated?” Were they being held captive there? Were they in danger? Or
were they just
pawns to be used in the propaganda machine of AIM?
To the mainstream media it was a dream come true. Wow! Indians dressed in
various stages of attire the occupiers assumed to be real native, waving rifles
and pistols in the air, and acting like they were taking over a white village
in 1880? The visiting reporters ate it up. What great photo opportunities. What
wild stories to write for their readers back east.
Not one reporter bothered to ask them why they were assaulting their own people
or why they were holding the elderly owners of the Trading Post hostage or why
they took over the homes and cars of the Lakota people living in Wounded Knee.
The actions of the occupiers of Wounded Knee were criminal. One does not kidnap
and terrorize peaceful villagers in the name of God knows what. AIM attempted
to write its own history at Wounded Knee. They attempted to romanticize their
illegal actions with bravado and showmanship. They were more actors than
warriors because true Lakota warriors would never terrorize innocent people
simply to make a point. And what point were they trying to make?
The only thing liberated at Wounded Knee in 1973 was the earthly possessions of
the people living there. The Lakota people living at Wounded Knee lost
everything. This is liberation?
The only way to remove this heinous holiday from the books of reality is to move
the holiday to December 29 and to use this day as one to commemorate the deaths
of the 300 Lakota men, women and children that were massacred there in 1890.
These are the true heroes of
Wounded Knee and to this list should be added the
Lakota people living at Wounded Knee in 1973 who lost everything to a
criminals. They survived their so-called “liberation” and although
their homes were never rebuilt they still have high hopes that it
will happen someday and this should be the goal of the government of
The OST should rebuild Wounded Knee and restore the homes to the people who were
driven out in 1973. Surely the Tribe can find the money for such an honorable
undertaking. John Steele made a grievous mistake when he used his office as
president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to honor the destruction of Wounded Knee.