|Photo taken shortly after the massacre/battle, showing defeated Sioux chiefs guarded by a cavalry soldier.|
--WOUNDED KNEE: Sacred ground for American Sioux Indians
-- WOUNDED KNEE, Part I, The Closing Frontier,
What happened on the snow-crusted plain near Wounded Knee Creek at day-break, December 29, 1890, has been described variously as a battle, a massacre, or a one-sided rout. In truth, both sides fired gunshots and took casualties -- but it was hardly even.
Numbers tell the story. Of the 500 US cavalry engaged that day, 23 died in the encounter, dozens were wounded, and twenty received the Army's Medal of Honor (more than the number given to all the South Dakotans who served in World War II). Of some 350 Sioux Indians, over 150 were killed, including 44 women and 18 children, and another 50 were wounded. Some estimates put the Indian deaths closer to 200. For the next century, arguments would rage over why it happened at all.