On December 29, 1890, between 250 and 300 men, women, and children of the Lakota were killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre at the Wounded Knee Battlefield in South Dakota.
Prior to the event, the Lakota had embraced the Ghost Dance, a religious revival promising the restoration of their old world, before the arrival of the white man. U.S. authorities got nervous, seeing the dance as a war dance and as a possible cover for an Indian uprising. So they decided to arrest the Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, during which a fight broke out and the chief was killed. Seeking safety, a band of Lakota Sioux led by Chief Spotted Elk headed for the Pine Ridge reservation.
On 28 December, the Lakota were escorted by the US military to Wounded Knee Creek, where they camped and were encircled by the US forces.
The following morning, the US military attempted to disarm the Lakota tribe. Several Lakota began to sing and dance to Ghost Dance songs, creating an even more tense situation. It is said that while a soldier tried to disarm a young, supposedly deaf Lakota, one of the rifles discharged. A close-range firefight ensued, killing friend and foe alike. The fighting ended after less than an hour with almost half the Lakota dead, including more than sixty women and children.
Today, in attempt to heal the wounds of the past, every year in December Lakota tribal members retrace the steps leading up to and ending with the massacre via a 300 km pilgrimage on horseback from the Standing Rock reservation where Sitting Bull was killed to Wounded Knee, in remembrance of this tragic event.
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