As the year 1890 wound to a close, a band of more than three
hundred Lakota Sioux Indians led by Chief Big Foot made their way
toward South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation to join other Lakotas
seeking peace. Fearing that Big Foot's band was headed instead to
join "hostile" Lakotas, U.S. troops surrounded the group on Wounded
Knee Creek. Tensions mounted, and on the morning of December 29, as
the Lakotas prepared to give up their arms, disaster struck.
Accounts vary on what triggered the violence as Indians and
soldiers unleashed thunderous gunfire at each other, but the
consequences were horrific: some 200 innocent Lakota men, women,
and children were slaughtered. "American Carnage--"the first
comprehensive account of Wounded Knee to appear in more than fifty
years--explores the complex events preceding the tragedy, the
killings, and their troubled legacy.
In this gripping tale, Jerome A. Greene--renowned specialist on
the Indian wars--explores why the bloody engagement happened and
demonstrates how it became a brutal massacre. Drawing on a wealth
of sources, including previously unknown testimonies, Greene
examines the events from both Native and non-Native perspectives,
explaining the significance of treaties, white settlement,
political disputes, and the Ghost Dance as influential factors in
what eventually took place. He addresses controversial questions:
Was the action premeditated? Was the Seventh Cavalry motivated by
revenge after its humiliating defeat at the Battle of the Little
Bighorn? Should soldiers have received Medals of Honor? He also
recounts the futile efforts of Lakota survivors and their
descendants to gain recognition for their terrible losses.
Epic in scope and poignant in its recounting of human suffering,
"American Carnage" presents the reality--and denial--of our
nation's last frontier massacre. It will leave an indelible mark on
our understanding of American history.
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