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Presentation Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History

Disaster at Wounded Knee

Battle of Wounded Knee

Violent conflicts between Native American groups and the U.S. military were common throughout many territories. One of the last military actions against Native Americans of the northern Plains took place on December 29, 1890. Government officials banned a growing religion known as the Ghost Dance on a South Dakota reservation that month. As part of the crackdown against the Ghost Dance, soldiers from the Seventh U.S. Cavalry Regiment arrested a band of Lakota who were traveling toward the Pine Ridge Reservation and confined them to a camp near Wounded Knee Creek.

The day after the arrest, the military attempted to recover weapons from the imprisoned refugees. A gun was discharged and soldiers opened fire. When the shooting stopped, hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children were dead.

The massacre site became a place of remembrance for Native Americans, and decades later Wounded Knee would be a rallying cry in struggles for Native American rights.