The Wounds from Wounded Knee


"The reason Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham were indicted for the murder of Anna Mae was because someone who was investigating her murder was getting too close to the truth aboutFBI complicity in her killing."

From "The Place Where Spirits are Eaten" for Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, by Antoinette Nora Claypoole.

In 1868, the Fort Laramie Treaty promised that the sacred Black Hills would forever be reserved to the "absolute and undisturbed use and occupation" of the Lakota Nation. In 1874, gold was discovered and the white man’s words were discarded like pulp fiction.

In the ensuing years, the Lakota Nation was divided between the "friendly" Indians and the "renegades," including Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. When the renegades embraced the Ghost Dance toward the end of the 1880s, federal troops were called in to crush the "uprising." In 1890, their efforts were crowned by the Wounded Knee Massacre.

By 1900, the US Census estimated the indigenous population at just over 237,000, down from an estimated ten million before the Europeans set foot on American soil. The North American Indians were at the edge of extinction.

In the 1970s, uranium was discovered in the Black Hills and the Lakota Nation was once again divided. On one side was the established order of friendly Indians in the Pine Ridge tribal council; on the other were the new renegades of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Alarmed by the new activism, federal agents were summoned to crush the AIM "uprising." A series of arrests, beatings, shootings and terrorism culminated in the Wounded Knee siege of 1974. While media attention may have prevented a second massacre on those hallowed grounds, the aftermath of that event has never allowed closure.

In 1977, on the strength of falsified evidence and coerced testimony (a matter of public record), Leonard Peltier was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of two FBI agents. There was great hope that Bill Clinton would find the courage to free Peltier in the waning days of his presidency but a public demonstration by over 500 agents (never before or since has any federal agency taken to the streets in protest) precluded that possibility.

Today, the wounds of Wounded Knee are open once again. David Graham is being extradited from Canada to face charges in the 1976 murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. As seems to be the case with all matters concerning Wounded Knee, there is no shortage of controversy within or without the Lakota community in regard to this case. The facts are disputed and the truth may forever be obscured.

What is not in dispute is that this nation has never settled the account with its native peoples. It is no longer disputed that the Bureau of Indian Affairs stole literally billions of dollars from indigenous tribes while consistently proclaiming that the Indians were incapable of managing their own affairs. What should not be disputed is that, under the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the Black Hills remains the property of the Lakota Nation, as did all the gold, silver, copper and uranium extracted from them. Indeed, the faces of the Great White Fathers carved into the sacred mountains, within a few miles from where the Crazy Horse Monument is slowly reaching completion, belong to the Lakota.

Before we send our troops to foreign lands, ostensibly to fight for the liberation of indigenous peoples, let us turn our attention to our own back yard. While we can never return to the Indian people what is rightfully theirs, we can return to the table of negotiations with an honest and open heart. We can make real and just reparations. We can return sacred lands to the people who spilled their blood defending them.

Until we do so, all our claims to the crowning glory of the world’s liberator will be as empty as the promises we gave to the indigenous nations. Until we settle the account, we will bear the mark of hypocrisy in all that we do.

Free Leonard Peltier and let the wounds of Wounded Knee finally begin to heal.

JACK RANDOM is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles, the War Chronicles (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press). He can be reached through his website: www.jackrandom.com.

Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?
Barry Lando
Syria: Obama’s Bay of Pigs?
Karl Grossman
The Politics of Lyme Disease
Andre Vltchek
Southeast Asia “Forgets” About Western Terror
Jose Martinez
American Violence: Umpqua is “Routine”?
Vijay Prashad
Russian Gambit, Syrian Dilemma
Sam Smith
Why the Democrats are in Such a Mess
Uri Avnery
Nasser and Me
Andrew Levine
The Saints March In: The Donald and the Pope
Arun Gupta
The Refugee Crisis in America
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Elections and Verbal Vomit
Dan Glazebrook
Refugees Don’t Cause Fascism, Mr. Timmermann – You Do
Victor Grossman
Blood Moon Over Germany
Patrick Bond
Can World’s Worst Case of Inequality be Fixed by Pikettian Posturing?
Pete Dolack
Earning a Profit from Global Warming
B. R. Gowani
Was Gandhi Averse to Climax? A Psycho-Sexual Assessment of the Mahatma
Tom H. Hastings
Another Mass Murder
Anne Petermann
Activists Arrested at ArborGen GE Trees World Headquarters
Ben Debney
Zombies on a Runaway Train
Franklin Lamb
Confronting ‘Looting to Order’ and ‘Cultural Racketeering’ in Syria
Carl Finamore
Coming to San Francisco? Cra$h at My Pad
Ron Jacobs
Standing Naked: Bob Dylan and Jesus
Missy Comley Beattie
What Might Does To Right
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi Jayanti, Gandhi’s Dream
Raouf Halaby
A Week of Juxtapositions
Louis Proyect
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Iran
Christopher Washburn
Skeptik’s Lexicon
Charles R. Larson
Indonesia: Robbed, Raped, Abused
David Yearsley
Death Songs
Jon Hochschartner
Does Word Policing Actually Help the Left?