300 women, children, & men killed at Wounded Knee, 12/29/1890

Wounded Knee Grave on Cemetery Hill

For no rational reason, because there was no “war”, no outbreak, no raids, no threat of military conflict, an estimated 300 infants, boys, girls, women and men were killed by the United States Military on December 29, 1890.  On this day in 2009, the Big Foot Memorial  Riders and others  honor their memory at Cemetery Hill where approximately 146 are buried in a mass grave. In the surrounding hills and desolate plain at least another 25 women and children and 3 men, were buried  in unmarked graves wherever their bodies were found. Others died of their fatal wounds after being brought to the Pine Ridge Agency. An unknown number of living were ‘removed’ by friends and relations. At least 40 other bodies were ‘moved’ prior to the arrival of Dr. Eastman. According to the Army, rations were issued for 370 people of Big Foot/Spotted Elk’s band at the Wounded Knee camp. The army estimated around 70 survivors of unknown gender, age or condition among their Lakota relations. (Source, National Archives publication Microfilm 983, Central Plains Branch, KCMO).

Historical Marker


  1. December 30, 2009 at 5:23 am

    So sad. I get a desolate feeling looking at that picture. I’m curious what the marker used to say underneath the word “Massacre”, which appears to be an add-on plate.

    Google says it used to say “Battle”, which is what I figured. It doesn’t sound like a battle to me.

    • December 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm

      Dennis, I do believe “Battle” is the word underneath “Massacre.” Battle hardly applies to the scenario at Wounded Knee Creek as it suggestss one military force engaging another. This was certainly not the case at Wounded Knee in 1890 as this was a Lakota ‘band’ of families travelling en masse not a group of warriors. Most of the men were disarmed by the time the ‘shooting’ began and many men died within minutes because most of them were gathered together and separated from the women and children who became ‘moving targets’.

  2. gbaugh said,

    December 30, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Horrible loss of life, and a people, all the history that was destroyed – families and traditions. So sad.

    Gerardine Baugh

    • December 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      Hello Geradine. Yes a terrible loss of life–an entire extended social/living community of connected people/families wiped out.

  3. Sam said,

    December 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    wow. that’s just terrible. humankind at their worst. it’s hard to believe things like that… people often don’t want to think about or remember such things… Yet… they need to be thought about, believed, and remembered…

    • December 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you, SAM, for “they need to be thought about…and remembered.” Partly to honor the dead and partly because what happened at Wounded Knee has had long term consequences for the Lakota people all the way into the present. And before Wounded Knee there was Sand Creek and Wasihita and…America’s history is not quite as ‘honorable’ as many textbooks would have us believe.

  4. Adam Pacio said,

    January 4, 2010 at 3:48 am

    I have some historical photos up on my thesis website for graduate school, Revisiting Mount Rushmore, with some of the Wounded Knee massacre in them since Mt. Rushmore is so closely linked to the US treatment of Native Americans. http://rushmore.wingfoot.org/

  5. January 4, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Well hello Adam. Mount Rushmore is something I have never understood. Nor do I quite ‘get’ that huge Crazy Horse sculpture either. I have to wonder what Crazy Horse would think of that devastation of the earth. Ever see the movie Skins? It’s got a darn good parting ‘shot’ at Rushmore.
    Nice of you to visit and leave your tracks.


  6. January 4, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Eva, I am not sure I could cope with your job.

    Viewing the grisly, depraved nature of man is humiliating, painful and condemning.

    Having been recently reading an overview of the early history and genealogy of mankind, it can be down right depressing. The overall theme is, rather than an evolution to something finer and grander, merely a continuous stream of greed and depravity, occasionally dotted by characters of noble courage.

    Reading something like your article above should be shocking: but it is sadly consistent with human behaviour.

    • January 4, 2010 at 11:06 am

      Morning Beyond Bluestockings. Your comments bear serious consideration especially regarding that ‘continuous stream’. Lately current world events certainly seem to provide much evidence that homo sapiens is doomed by the dark side running rampant.

  7. planetcity1 said,

    January 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    The Dr. Eastman referred to has a written account of things from his perspective: http://tinyurl.com/yfaw7st
    The Wounded Knee backstory starts on page 92 and Wounded Knee begins to be mentioned around page 106 [all of this can be read online]

    • January 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      Ah as always, Planetcity1 brings more to the information table. Dr. Eastman’s experience as the doctor for the Pine Ridge Agency at the time of the massacre are very significant for a non-military perspective.
      Thanks for the link to his online book for sharing.

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