By Kristi Eaton
Faith White Dress was on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation 40 years ago when about 200 members of the American Indian Movement and their supporters huddled in houses, some with guns, to protest alleged corruption within the tribal government. Two Native Americans were killed, an activist went missing and a federal agent was wounded.
White Dress and others gathered Wednesday to remember the fatal 71-day standoff. During gunfire to mark the anniversary of the start of the occupation, she said the Oglala Sioux Tribe is still struggling.
"Unemployment is so high and the oppression is still so bad," she said. "I don't think it's going to take violence. It's going to take a gathering to determine how to bring jobs here. We need libraries. We need more of our children to have a better future."
Hundreds of people walked from nearby villages to the site of the occupation, drumming and chanting. Once at the site, the same place where in 1890 soldiers slaughtered an estimated 300 Native American men, women and children, AIM and their supporters continued to drum and chant and fire off gunshots into the air.
This year's events include memorials for AIM's charismatic leader, Russell Means, who died in October at age 72 after batting throat cancer. This is the first anniversary of the occupation since Means' death.
About 200 people gathered at a high school on Pine Ridge for the second of four planned ceremonies to honor Means. Friends, family and colleagues recalled Means as a man who taught his people how to stand up for themselves.
"He was articulate ... a proud Lakota," said Oglala Sioux president Bryan Brewer. "Today he is a version of our modern day Crazy Horse."
By Derek Olson
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, a group of people gathered in the village of Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
"Today, we are here to commemorate the activities that occurred in 1973," AIM supporter Edgar Bear Runner said.
It's one of four groups walking to Wounded Knee. For those in Porcupine, it's an eight mile journey in a wind making it feel much colder than 30.
"Despite the cold temperatures, we walk in their honor and in their memory," Bear Runner said.
Why Wounded Knee II matters
AIM–Wounded Knee II, 40 years later
By Chase Iron Eyes
It is clear to me that Indigenous peoples should take their place in leading and working with all of humanity. Race is of course a human construct as we are surely all indigenous meaning coming from the universe with spiritual covenants to the land and each other. We are in a state of emergency right now with the Keystone XL pipeline, the petro-backed banking system bound to collapse, drinking water being wasted and poisoned for the benefit of the greedy carbon economy. uranium mining in our territories, sacred sites facing destruction and so on. This I believe to be our role as Indigenous peoples: to share our beautiful world with that of the purported colonizer. They came here to feed an insatiable greed for riches and self but I think they were sent to learn how to respect sacred sites, the land, the water, other humans, other world views, other beings, to learn what true civilization looks like. So let’s honor today and make the most of every day. We are all seeking a spiritual revolution.