Research Paper on Wounded Knee Massacre

Wounded Knee Massacre really caused by the Ghost Dance Religion?

The Massacre termed as the Wounded Knee happened in 1890 was referred to have taken place by the army of the U.S. It was a terrific event that was really challenged by the American community, the Natives. It was popularly called as the last conflict of Indians with the Americans. During the year end, there came a full stop to all the conflicts between U.S. government and the armed Indians by the U.S. Army-Seventh Cavalry. (

People who practice the Ghost Dance went to a spot named Pine Ridge located in southwestern Dakota in order to defend themselves. This happened on a cold forenoon on December 29 (Dewing P.35). The Miniconjou Sioux (Lakota) tribe people tried to escape the arrest by fleeing to the south rugged terrains that are located at the Badlands. They were led by the Chief Namely Big Foot and by another head, the Hunkpapa Sioux (Lakota). They were the followers of the interesting leader named as the Sitting Bull and who was killed more recently. ( Near the hurt Knee Creek banks (Cankpeopiwakpala), there were 300 men, young kids, and women were killed in a brutal manner by the U.S. army. It still evokes the thoughts of the American Natives and their supporters. Despite the demolition of the heritage of Lakota, it even exists today although the belief in the Ghost Dance had come to an end.

The U.S. army has killed around 300 people of the natives just because to ensure that the war should not begin again. The massacre was really an injustice to the people of America (natives) by showing the power of the U.S. army.

History (The ghost dance)

In 1888, Wovoka, one of the holy mans from Nevada cleared the American west through a phenomenon. Paiute tribe had introduced the Ghost dance in an area which is now called as the Nevada. Though the dance ritual was started in the years of 1870s, when Paiute named it as ‘Wovoka’, it gained its popularity not only among their own people but also among others as well. Wovoka was believed to be sent as a self-proclaimed prophet for salvation among the Native Americans. On January 1, 1889, he had a dream in which the Natives had to leave their place and has to reach the sky. His dream was like the earth has destroyed all the whites in supporting the way of life of the Natives. But this dream cannot happen in a day and it needs a series of events (Knoedl, 2016).

One of the child’s of the Tavibo, the Wovoka, has drawn the teachings of his father and his own dream on a solar eclipse day. The well-known Ghost promenade religion was actually the dispersal of the “gospel” by him. He has also added that the earth would perish soon and the inheritors of the earth are the Indians in an extraordinary state with an external existence. The Indians to profit from the new truth has to lead a harmonious and a frank life with the habits of the white people, such as the adapting the destroying alcoholic beverages. As Wovoka believed that the dead would revive soon and therefore we need not perform any mourning and such acts during death was highly discouraged. Then he also believed that they would come as the members of the paradise, enjoying the greenish lawn, buffalo herds, and along with the ancestors of India s. A Lakota person from Miniconjou named Kicking accept went on a pilgrimage to identify and know more about this new “religion” identified at Nevada. In the late 1880s, when the Indians suffered much and when there was a need for hope among the Native Americans, the spiritual movement called the Ghost dance (Natdia) came into existence. The announcement regarding the Indian salvation atarted with in an Indian named Wovoka. In the 1870s, the Ghost dance began in the Great Basins that are located at the western side and from the thoughts of Wodziwob (Gray Hair) and it concerned about the renewal process of earth and reintroducing the spirits of Numu (Northern Paiute), the ancient people. The Natdia dance itself was a central element to the religion which was induced as a continuous dancing that follows circular movements in religious ecstasy.


All the Native Americans had to leave the things that they had brought from the Whites before the Ghost Dance starts and it lasts for five days continuously. Things such as the clothes imitating the whites, or their rifles, or the language they use, etc. that the ‘white’ practice must not be used during the Ghost Dance. This was almost like practicing or avoiding the mannerisms of the Whites to thrive the habits of the Native Americans. Participants would even get time during the event to renew their spirits with meditations and they can speak to the spirits. They also had an open prayer, feasting and holy purifications by water and also a list of correlated actions.

Every night, the Native Americans dance around a fire in a circular pattern and the ceremony ends with that. They dance until sunrise on the last day of the event and all the participants take bathe in a river at the sunrise. They had to repeat the ceremony with six weeks gap and the Native Americans had accepted it soon. But it remained as an unknown act to the whites.


It was believed by the Bureau, B.I.A that the peculiar Dance has started turning to be an alarm signal of the spread of a culture. When groups of Sioux attended the dance events, it became a general worry for the Bureau. Later, the B.I.A. has reported that the ‘Ghost Shirts’ were believed to protect the Sioux from bullets. As the ceremony had the thought of disappearing whites, it became a strong reason for the arrest to happen. A B.I.A. agent has sent a letter that states that ‘Indians are performing a dance ceremony and it looks very crazy’ to the Washington. It was also mentioned like ‘They should be protected against those practices and action should be taken right way’. They have also added that leader should be arrested and should be confined to some military post soon.

Wounded Knee

The Bureau had quickly removed the revered Sioux Chief, ‘Sitting Bull’ when he had joined the peculiar Dance event and removed him from his position to stop the ceremony that takes place very near to Fort Yates located in the North of Dakota. Unfortunately, Sitting Bull was killed during the arrest. Soon the U.S. military has sent the 7th Cavalry to a place that is situated 300 miles to the south of the Fort. This was exclusively done to capture the weapons of the people who participated in the Dance. There was a meeting between the 7th Cavalry and the Sioux Chief ‘Big Foot’ at the Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890, and it is near the Nebraska now.


On December 1890, the White agents banned the Dance ceremony that took place on Lakota reservations after they became alert. Agents had called for troops to regions of Pine ridge and also to the regions in the south such as the Rosebud. The action was taken as the rites were continued. Veteran General named Nelson Miles commanded the military and equipped it for a campaign (Brown, 1970).

Anyhow, the Lakota Sioux who are referred to as the Native American tribes wanted peace instead of violence and they were practicing their own religion. But the United States has accused them that they desire a war.

Clearly the Lakota never wanted to harm the United States. They just wanted to stay the land on which their ancestors lived. But the “white man” claimed that they deserve the land on which the Native Americans live. This was even clear from the words of Sitting Bull that “They claim the land as it is considered similar to their mother and they wish to keep it for their use. (Sitting Bull quotes, 2010).” But the Lakota Sioux-based tribes of India were dealt strictly by the United States. They even tortured them to lead their lives with smaller quantities of food and other supplies. The tribes started practicing in the Ghost Dance but they were suppressed by the American soldiers. Sitting Bull’s half-brother named Big Foot turned to be the next leader when Sitting Bull was killed. They escaped and went to the Pine Ridge but on December 28, 1890, the seventh Calvary attacked them even though the Lakota did not threaten the U.S. army or the Americans.

Black Elk noted that “We are unaware of how much has been ended. But when I turn back, I could see heaps of women and children along the plains.” Also, the U.S. army’s Seventh Calvary actually do not have the intention of disarming the Native Americans peacefully.

The army did not approach the Indians for compromise and had already took control of the cannons. The army had believed that the Native Americans at the Lakota were planning to start an attack against the U.S. army and that was the main reason for their shots against them. Also, they had a thought that their religion as well the Ghost dance was actually a war dance. The consequences of that violence took the lives of around 300 people who are the Natives and 25 U.S. soldiers (Lipps, 2016).

This reflects the inhumane mannerism of the United States at that moment and which took the lives many people who are really innocent. The violence was just because of the U.S. military and the Lakota Sioux did not present a threat or sought for violence. In that battle at the creek that took place in 1890, the United State’s activities could never be justified.


The killing event by the United States have shown the power of their army and killed 300 people of the Natives. It was an injustice to those people.

The attack by the United States against the Indians was an unjustified act that took place in a violent manner. The U.S. could have spoken to the Indian before carrying out such a brutal force killing of several people. Also, the Indian tribes had done no harm for the Americans and the attack was really an unacceptable one. Altogether, the violent attack at the Wounded Knee creek upon the Lakota Sioux people was an undesirable act and the affected Indian tribes really should not have experienced such a cruel treatment. (Leonard, 2016).


Brown, D. (1970). Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Holt.

Knoedl, M. (2016, December). Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee: Definition & Ceremony. Retrieved from Study:

Leonard, A. (2016, December 4). The Wounded Knee Massacre. Retrieved from

Lipps, E. (2016, December 4). The Wounded Knee Massacre. Retrieved from

Sitting Bull quotes. (2010, February 15). Retrieved from Brainy Quote:>.

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