17 August, 2017 00:40

The grave of Lawrence “Buddy” LaMonte, shot through the heart on April 27th, 1973 during the three month occupation of the village of Wounded Knee by traditional Ogalala Lakota with the support of American Indian Movement.
A Vietnam veteran, LaMonte fought for the US government, and they killed him for defending his people.
He is buried just to the south of Chief Bigfoot’s mass grave, overlooking the village of Wounded Knee. His stone reads in part:
“Though he went traveling alone, We’ll meet one day at our final home.” And, referring to Feds and Aim occupiers:”
“2000 and 500 came to Wounded Knee.
One still remains.
Lawrence “Buddy” LaMonte.
I stayed with his niece in Minneapolis; he was 32 years old when he was killed.

On this Site on Dec 29th, 1890

Chief Bigfoot, having already surrendered to the 7th Cavalry under Major Samuel Whitside the day before, was taken under military escort five miles to Wounded Knee Creek with his starving band of approximately 100 (poorly armed or) unarmed warriors (about 40 from Sitting Bull’s band, who left from Standing Rock after his murder to seek shelter on Pine Ridge with Red Cloud, joined by a slightly larger number of Minneconjou) along with at least 200 women and children were massacred by Hotchkiss Guns mounted on a hillside a quarter of a mile away.
Troops had been sent into the camp to “disarm” the warriors, who were carrying mainly knives and hatchets. 38 rifles were turned in.
One elderly man, deaf, named Black Coyote allegedly failed to understand the order or protested giving up his rifle because it had cost him a lot of money. A struggle ensued, a shot was fired, then firing became indiscriminate.
The soldier firing Hotchkiss guns from the nearby hill slaughtered their own men along with women and children in the camp.
Bigfoot, given medical aid the night before for pneumonia, was shot down too, with all his band – all buried together in a mass grave.

15 August, 2017 21:03

Mitakuye OyasinAll My Relatives Statue
6th and Omaha; Rapid City, South Dakota

I have lingered far too long in Rapid City, South Dakota, and the storm clouds and rain have lingered too.
Yesterdays late afternoon downpour pushed Rapid Creek out of its banks, and made me realize how easy it would be for this city at the base of the Black Hills to flood again, as it did, disastrously, in June of 1972, when 238 people drowned when the Creek flooded after heavy rain. But now the rain is dissipating and I am going to head on down the road to Wounded Knee.

Before I go, I wanted to add one thing to the remarks I posted yesterday about the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. Not only did the federal government use this Act as a means of declaring un-allocated Native land as surplus, open to white homesteaders. But also the land allotted to individual Native Americans was then subject to taxation, and also subject to predatory lending by financiers, who took advantage of the Native’s lack of cash to establish farmsteads or ranches of their own by lending them money at usurious rates, then claiming the land when the loans were not repayed on time. Individual allotments could also be bought by white ranchers and settlers, which communal Native land held in trust by the federal government could not be. By these methods, Native "reservations" were divided up into small parcels, bought up, and more than half of the lands remaining in Native hands in 1887 transferred to white ownership by the time Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, canceling out the disastrous Dawes Act policy of allotting Native communally held lands ( but giving rise to a host of other problems still plaguing Native Nations today in terms of majority rule IRA governments and traditional Native ways).

With the Black Hills in view, it seems appropriate to quote once more (while I still have access to a library computer I can use both hands and all ten digits on) from Vine DeLoria Jr. (whose book Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties – 1974 – I have been reading between thunderstorms this entire trip – almost finished now). I had the good fortune to meet his grandson, Manape LaMere, at Green Grass recently. Manape is more than conversant with the legal themes his grandfather articulated; he has been issuing passports for the sovereign Great Sioux Nation, and can quote Supreme Court decisions chapter and verse from memory.

Here is his grandfather again:

"The story of Indian claims against the United States goes back almost to the beginning of the republic. The ink was hardly dry on the treaties before white settlers began their trek overland into Indian country, breaching the solemn promises of the United States. When the executive branch of government refused to use the army to enforce the provisions of the Indian treaties, the tribes had but two recourses: war or relief through the United States court system. When they were pushed to the limit of their patience by the advancing tide of settlement, many tribes fought for their lands. But several times before a crisis occurred, tribes had attempted to use the federal courts for redress. The sad story of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia indicates the dead end which the tribes found in the legal processes of the United States. A year following the Cherokee Nation case Samuel Worcester, a missionary to the Cherokees, appealed what was basically the same case as Cherokee Nation to the Supreme Court in Worcester v. Georgia. The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Cherokee treaties and held against enforcing the laws of the State of Georgia which had been passed to harass the Cherokees. When President Andrew Jackson learned of the Supreme Court decision he is said to have remarked, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."
Following the two Cherokee cases, the tribes knew better than ask a federal court to enforce their treaty rights through injunctions. The executive branch was determined to disqualify Indian treaties as the law of the land, and the refusal of respective Presidents to give credence to the treaty provisions was something over which the Indians had no control. While a President might promise the tribes that no whites would be allowed in their land, as was done by President Grant in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, whenever the settlers illegally moved into Indian country, the first response of the executive branch was to make another treaty with the tribe concerned in order to somehow give legality to acts that were already illegal."

At the base of the sculpture on 6th and Omaha, the plaque reads:
"This sculpture represents hope for reconciliation, dignity, and respect for all the human race. The earth itself is in the shape of a hoop or circle of life. The crossed pipes represent world peace. The eagle represents all flying creatures, and communication with Tunka Sila. Wisdom and the healing arts are represented by the grizzly bear, and long and productive life is symbolized by the turtle. The bison reminds us of our ancestors’ healthy lifestyles, free from famine, and also of the White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought us the pipe."

Reunion of Warriors from the Battle of Little Big Horn; December 2nd, 1948.

In the lobby of the Rapid City, SD Library.
Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who led a two week expedition into the Black Hills in 1874, during which gold was discovered, did not survive the Battle of Little Big Horn two years later, on June 25th, 1876. Neither did the 200 men of the 7th Cavalry under his command.
But the Lakota’s claim to the Black Hills – Paha Sapa – their most sacred site – guaranteed by the Ft. Laramie Treaties in clear and simple language: “…no persons except those designated herein ( the Great Sioux Indian Nation ) … shall ever be permitted to pass over, settle upon, or reside in the territory described in this article” did not survive Custer’s brief midsummer visit of 1874, once gold was discovered along French Creek.
Gold rush fever struck – white prospectors came pouring into the Black Hills, and Congress soon passed an Act illegally taking the land they had promised to the Lakota in perpetuity. The gold rush soon ended when the claims played out, but the settlers stayed.
Court battles to the Supreme Court confirmed in 1980 that the Black Hills had been egregiously stolen. The Lakota have rejected monetary compensation ( a fund to settle the case has been earning interest since 1980 and is now worth more than $1.3 billion, but the Lakota want the Black Hills back.
Obama almost gave them the federal property in the Black Hills – the majority of the land on question – but he caved to pressure and failed to deliver. Will the Lakota see justice from the current administration or Congress. You tell me.

The Black Hills

I am taking shelter from torrential rain in Rapid City Library after much needed bike repairs!
The foothills of the Black Hills, held sacred by the Lakota, and never ceded by them, are just outside of town – and the town itself (67,000) is very multicultural to say the least.

Red Scaffold

The isolated township of Red Scaffold, SD – 12 miles west of Rte 73, got its name from a traditional Lakota burial scaffold. Some stay it was painted red. Others, according to a book of Ziebach County local history, say a red blanket was used to honor the dead leader whose departure from this world was marked thereafter. The town, which was three days walk from the nearest government station for food supplies, in the westernmost reaches of the then 3,000,000 acre Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, was settled after Sitting Bull and Hump led their people back from Canada in 1881, but members of those bands, as well as by survivors of the 1890 massacre of Bigfoot’s band of Hunkpapa and Minneconjou at Wounded Knee. Ziebach County remains the poorest county in not only South Dakota but also the entire United States, so- called.
According to the Ziebach County History (1982) the people settled at Red Scaffold to be as far away from White influence as possible.
The Dawes Act and presidential proclamation opened “unentered” Native Nation Treaty Lands around here to white homesteaders in 1910. That is when the nearby town of Faith, and many other white ranching communities were carved out of the Lakota lands, despite the original treaty guarantees of perpetual use and enjoyment.

Repatriation Cemetery, Great Sioux Nation, Cheyenne River

While on the subject of reburying the bones of departed ancestors – the grueling work continues of repatriating the skulls and scalps and bones and burial objects of Native Americans that are still kept in boxes if no longer or rarely on display at Universities, private and public museums, local historical societies, and even, as was the case with Chief Little Crow’s remains after The Sioux Uprising in Minnesota, in State House galleries like the one in St. Paul.
This work was helped by the passage, which Native Nations lobbied fiercely for, of The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by Congress in 1990.
Here is the marker at the Cheyenne River Repatriation Cemetery just north of the Moreau River off Rte 63 near Green Grass, SD.

Meadow Flowers at Standing Rock

Fourteen miles up the road from where this photo was taken lies the town of Little Eagle, SD.
Here, on December 15th, 1890, Agency police under orders to arrest the great Hunkpapa Lakota holy man due to fears by James McLaughlin, the Indian Agent at Fort Yates, that he would use his influence to support the Ghost Dance Movement shot and killed Sitting Bull.
There is a memorial stone marking the spot where he died near Little Eagle. There is also one in Ft. Yates where his body was interred.
Sitting Bull had foreseen his own death, according to Allen Flies By, a Lakota man who was one of the early organizers of the resistance at Standing Rock when plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline were first revealed in 2015.
Sitting Bull had warned his family that he would be killed. After he was buried at Fort Yates, Allen Flies By told me yesterday, the Indian Agent had soldiers bodies buried on top of Sitting Bull’s. But he said his family disinterred Sitting Bull’s bones at a later date and buried them in a secret place near Mobridge, SD. Though three towns claim to memorialize Sitting Bull, the true grave lies near Mobridge. I would like to visit that site to pay respects.
But for now I am leaving Standing Rock behind me and heading west again, and south, to Pine Ridge where 14 days after Sitting Bull’s assassination, the 7th Cavalry caught up with a starving unarmed band of Hunkpapa Lakota traveling under the leadership of Chief Bigfoot and massacred them in the snow at Wounded Knee, using Hotchkiss Gatling guns. Three children were rescued later clinging to the corpses of their mothers. Others bled and froze to death in a three day blizzard. More Congressional Medals of Honor (20) were handed out for this massacre than for any other battle – indeed more than for many wars the US had engaged in. The Lakota still demand that those medals be recalled, in shame.