Wounded Knee – An Inspiration 42 Years On

A meeting during the Wounded Knee occupation on March 10, 1973. (Associated Press)

This brief was originally published in 2015.

On February 27, 1973 a struggle broke out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Native peoples gathered to protest their corrupt local government officials who used their authority for their own profit. To protest the corruption, people occupied Wounded Knee, the site of a massacre of Sioux men, women and children in 1890. Led by AIM, the American Indian Movement, thousands of native people and supporters from all over the U.S. came to Wounded Knee. It became the symbol of resistance to the continued genocide of Native Americans, and a challenge to the U.S. state that was built upon that genocide.

With the occupation of Wounded Knee, Native peoples said to the world, “We will not be erased from history!” The United States Government responded by sending in the FBI and military. For 71 days people fought and died until finally the occupation was overcome by violence. But it was no defeat. Wounded Knee inspired Native people to continue their struggle against the violent destruction of their culture, to demand the right to exist from a state which was founded on their destruction.

One of the fighters at Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, was imprisoned on false charges. He has spent forty years as a political prisoner for taking part in this struggle – a struggle which should not be forgotten. Remember Wounded Knee! Free Leonard Peltier!