Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
When Attorney General Eric Holder arrives later today at Wounded Knee to lay a wreath there, he will become the highest ranking official of the United States government to ever visit and memorialize a place of great historic significance to American Indians everywhere.
Attorney General Holder to Lay a Wreath
For it was at Wounded Knee, on a cold wintry December morning - four mornings after Christmas in 1890 - when the US 7th Calvary Regiment massacred some 150 Lakota men, women and children. The massacre has served as a symbol of the vast mistreatment of American Indians by the federal government.
Who could ever forget the vivid black and white picture of death of American Indians perpetrated by the United States government at Wounded Knee?
In the minds of many non-Indians, American Indians fell off the timeline of history in this country at Wounded Knee. Yes, those who lived close to us knew we existed, but one only needs to look at American history books to know we, in their minds, became non-existent. American Indians after Wounded Knee seldom show up in the textbooks read by the past few generations of Americans.
Still in all, American Indians have survived and persevered through the good and bad times.
On February 28, 1973, the American Indian Movement took over and occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days. Some American Indians refer to it as Wounded Knee II.
While the media and federal government referred to American Indian Movement members as being lawless militants, law - abiding American Indians throughout America referred to them as our modern day warriors.
The Nixon White House sent military tanks, military jets and helicopters flew over head. More than 130,000 rounds of ammunition were fired into the occupied Wounded Knee. Federal marshals and National Guard members fired into prairie nights.
It was war against American Indians all over again.
After it was all over, hundreds of American Indians disappeared forever. This fact certainty does not show up in American history textbooks.
So, with the visit by Attorney General Eric Holder at Wounded Knee today, American Indians everywhere should pause to reflect, just maybe, we under the leadership of this administration we have entered a new era.
At press time, I did not have Attorney Holder's prepared remarks - though they have been requested by the Native News Network - so I don't know what he is going to say. I do not know if he will apologize to American Indians on behalf of the United States government for the atrocities committed against American Indians by the government. But, I do know his visit there - on the hallowed ground of Wounded Knee - is truly a remarkable thing.
And, if we can borrow from our Jewish brothers and sister who purposely have a saying "Lest we forget" so that the world acknowledges they will never ever endure another Holocaust.
Lest we forget Wounded Knee, so that the world acknowledges we will never have another massacre against American Indians like the one that occurred in December 1890.
posted July 28, 2011 7:21 am edt
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