Strong Words at Wounded Knee: "F*ck historical trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide."

Looking south towards Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge really is beautiful.

A litany: "Fuck historical trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide."

The physical alteration of signs shows the struggle over how to tell the story of Wounded Knee (December 1890). Although originally entitled “The Battle of Wounded Knee,” someone nailed over the correction “Massacre.” And on the arch entrance to the mass grave: “Fuck Historical Trauma, we survived all and every act of genocide,” followed by a hand-written litany of dates from the 1803 “Illegal Louisiana purchase from French fur-traders” to the 1973 “Wounded Knee standoff.”

Everytime I visit Wounded Knee, I struggle over how to tell the story, but I wish everyone would visit the small hill in the southern part of Pine Ridge. And I especially wish everyone who calls the U.S. home would take the pilgrimage through South Dakota’s breathtaking prairie to the site.

A carefully, and obviously, corrected sign.

Although cameras capture the vistas of impossibly wide skies and gently rolling hills, they don’t do justice to the scent of sweet grass that perfumes the winds--the only sound except for the small chimes they awaken.

Wounded Knee is where Custer’s regiment, the 7th Cavalry, killed more than 200 Lakota children, women, and men a decade and a half after Custer fell to the Lakota at Little Big Horn. The 1876 engagement was a battle, the 1890 meeting was a massacre. In the dead of winter, their bodies lay in the snow while the wounded took shelter at a little church still decorated for the Christmas holidays. Medals of Honor were given to the soldiers who posed with their weapons and the poem:

"Famous Battery 'E' of the 1st Artillery.
These brave men and the Hotchkiss guns that Big Foot's Indians thought were toys,
Together with the fighting 7th what's left of Gen. Custer's boys,
Sent 200 Indians to that Heaven which the ghost dancer enjoys. This checked the Indian noise, and Gen. Miles with staff Returned to Illinois."
Close-up of the second half: "The meek will own the earth."

A close-up of the first half.

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