News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Wounded Knee amusement park?

The 1890 images that Wounded Knee calls to mind.

Wounded Knee is for sale.The asking price for the 40-acre site is $3.9 million.  The bodies of many Indian people that we'd like erased from the national memory are buried there.  Many hearts are buried there.  It is a place that memorializes a national disgrace.  It has a name and a silence on the landscape that tells us who we really are.

In 1890,  in one of the nation's glorious acts of gun violence, the Seventh Cavalry shot down 150 Lakota people,  men, women, children.  Their remains are there.  They are for sale.

In 1973, the American Indian Movement occupied the place in an armed stand-off to protest the treatment by the U.S. and the culture that cannot and will not understand a people who do not want a predatory and parasitic economic system to govern their minds and their lives.  

Joseph Brings Plenty, a former chair of the Cheyenne River tribe, makes the case in The New York Times:  

The killing ground stirs great emotion in all of our people — memories of bodies frozen into twisted shapes, of those who were hunted down and murdered as they fled, and of those who escaped in bitter cold across wind-swept plains. These stories have been handed down to us and live within us.

Now, our heritage is in danger of becoming a real-estate transaction, another parcel of what once was our land auctioned off to the highest bidder. The cries of our murdered people still echo off the barren hills — the cries we remember in our hearts every day of our lives. But they may finally be drowned out by bulldozers and the ka-ching of commerce.

  In 1970, Dee Brown wrote Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a native American history from the native perspective.  The title is from a poem by Stephen vincent Benet which explores the power of  place names in America.  After the occupation of 1973, Buffy St. Marie wrote a song with the same title that aptly expresses what the sale of Wounded Knee means and portends. 

Indian legislation on the desk of a do-right Congressman
Now, he don't know much about the issue
so he picks up the phone and he asks advice from the
Senator out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies who are
ripping off what's left of the reservations. Huh.

I learned a safety rule
I don't know who to thank
Don't stand between the reservation and the
corporate bank
They send in federal tanks
It isn't nice but it's reality

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

They got these energy companies that want the land
and they've got churches by the dozen who want to
guide our hands
and sign Mother Earth over to pollution, war and
Get rich... get rich quick.


3. We got the federal marshals
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by the fire
We got the FBIs
They lie in court and get nailed
and still Peltier goes off to jail


My girlfriend Annie Mae talked about uranium
Her head was filled with bullets and her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands and told us she'd died of
Loo loo loo loo loo


We had the Goldrush Wars
Aw, didn't we learn to crawl and still our history gets
written in a liar's scrawl
They tell 'ya "Honey, you can still be an Indian
d-d-down at the 'Y'
on Saturday nights"

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh!

• • •

1973 occupiers

The tanks moved in in 1973

The site for sale

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States