Wounded Knee: Ghost Dance
Serious injuries were inflicted at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge
Reservation, home to the Sioux Indians. Between 150 and 300 Indians,
mostly women and children, were killed by soldiers. The Indians had
tried to surrender their guns to the army when a gun accidentally
discharged, triggering violent shooting by the army and the resulting
Wounded Knee Massacre.
Leading up to the massacre had been the
rise among Indian tribes of the Ghost Dance, a religious movement
started in 1888, by a Paiute Indian named Wovoka. The belief behind the
Ghost Dance was that the world would soon end and Indians would inherit
the earth, and the return of ancestors and buffalo who had died. Through
frenzied dancing, Ghost Dancers felt they could glimpse this future
where the world would be theirs. The Ghost Dance movement also preached
rejection of white culture and alcohol.
The Ghost Dance spread in popularity among
many Indian tribes and contributed to Indian militancy. The U.S. Army
became alarmed at this trend and began to arrest Indian leaders. When
Chief Sitting Bull resisted arrest, a skirmish led to the chief and 14
others being killed. Subsequently, 400 of Sitting Bull's followers fled
to seek safety with Sioux Chief Big Foot. Then the military pursued
Chief Big Foot's group, leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre.