Sunday, May 15, 2016

Native American Biography: Sioux Chief Big Foot: Wounded Knee

Big Foot of of the Teton Lakota as was Sitting Bull.  He was chief over a different band.  He was a good negotiator, and compromiser.  He was often asked to settle arguments and disagreements.  He fought with Sitting Bull, but was not at Little Big Horn.  His people were placed on a Cheyenne Reservation in South Dakota, and he encouraged his people to adopt white ways and live in peace.
In the late 1800s, conditions on the reservation were appalling.  The government continued to confiscate land, and the money given to them for food, was often misappropriated by Indian agents.  Into these conditions came the ghost dance, which was quickly adopted by many as it gave hope of a better life.  Among the enthusiasts were the band lead by Big Foot.  When Sitting Bull was killed, his followers fled to the the camp of Big Foot.  The military followed them, with five gatling guns.  They insisted that all of the people of Big Bear give their arms to the military.  Big Bear was already sick with pneumonia and surrendered peacefully.  While they were being disarmed there was a scuffle.  Some say an older Indian did not want to relinquish  his gun.  A shot rang out, and the military who surrounded them opened fire.  When all was done, between two and three hundred Native Americans were dead in the snow.  This included Big Foot.  25 soldiers were killed, some by Gatling gun fire, and some by the Sioux who were able to reach their weapons.  This is known as the Massacre or Battle of Wounded Knee.
This shows the surrender of Big Foot to General Nelson Miles with Grant Short Bull as intermediary.  This picture was drawn by Amos Bad Heart Bull and is likely more symbolic then an actual scene.   

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