Arts, Activism, Awakening in Mind, Body, & Spirit

OpEd: Wounded Knee 1890 – U.S. Still Wages #WarOnWomen


Wounded Knee Museum South Dakota Black HillsDecember 29th is a day of mourning for all American Indian tribes and should be a day of disgrace for the United States.

On December 29, 1890, the 7th Cavalry sought revenge for Custer’s loss at the Little Big Horn by attacking Chief Big Foot’s band with rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns and mounted soldiers thirsty for blood.  The Army assassinated unarmed Lakota men and set out on horseback to chase down the women and children trying to run away in below-freezing temperatures.

It was so cold in fact, the bodies of Big Foot and his Lakota tribe were left on the ground where they died and had to be dug out from the snow by the U.S. soldiers, who then threw them into mass graves.

The massacre of the Cheyenne at Sand Creek in 1864 was a brutal display of evil wearing self-righteous’ clothing.  Newspapers of the day described how the U.S. soldiers paraded through town wearing their spoils of war, including scalps of  male warriors and fetuses they’d carved out of pregnant Cheyenne women’s uteruses, worn around the soldiers’ necks with pride as if each “trophy” were a fashionable scarf.

Thirty years before, the Eastern and Southern tribes had been made to walk the Trial of Tears, leaving the lush, tree-covered rolling hills of their ancient stomping grounds to walk more than a thousand miles to the alien, barren land of what is now Oklahoma.  This was preceded by decades of Indian wars over land that the indigenous tribes could not fathom as being “owned.”  The tribes with whom the U.S. was now at war had been the real reason America won its independence from the British to begin with.  And even before the American Revolution, the Puritans’ massacres of the Pequot resulted in the murders of mostly women, children, and elderly by setting fire to their village.

American history is littered with murders and atrocities that earned U.S. soldiers Medals of Honor.

I’ve been to the Knee.  It is a haunting, sacred place.  But then, all of this land is sacred — rich and beautiful.  Which is why the American government would do anything to steal every square inch of it.

Considering the hatred our governmental leaders have shown women in 2012, am I really surprised that American soldiers chased pregnant and elderly women for 2 miles along a frozen river, shooting them all for sport?  Or that pregnant Cheyenne women were butchered?  Or women and children burned alive?  No.  Militant oppressors always target women because women give birth to the next generation.  We give birth to their future enemies.

What surprises me is that in 2012, ignorant baffoons like Rush Limbaugh can call a woman a slut, and we’re outraged, but he calls a scholar a “squaw” and no one blinks.  (Hint:  “Squaw” is a horrible, degrading term for an indigenous woman’s genitals.  How degrading?  Call a black person the “N” word.  It’s about like that.)  Right now, Chief Theresa Spence is on a hunger strike in an effort to help the indigenous people of Canada, and yes, women and children make up a good number of those for whom she’s fighting — starving herself — to get a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister.

The #WarOnWomen is not new.  Patriarchal politics and religions have always hated women and our inherent strength.  I’m white, but I’m a woman and a mother.  To be targeted because of a woman’s gender always hits too close to home.  The insanity and irrationality of racism is mind-boggling to me.  But remembering the past can help us come together and end this misogynist tyranny once and for all.

Remember the Knee.  We are all connected.  Be the change.

trish

FURTHER READING:

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3 responses

  1. A great woman writer name wrote the only true and honest book on native American history. Helen Jackson wrote the book in 1890 “A century of dishonor.” She told the truth about Custer and the slaughter of a great people. Thank you for remembering a sad day in the history of the USA.

    January 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    • Hey, John!

      Thanks so much for the recommendation. In fact, I have added some links at the end of the post to a few books I think make for great “Further Reading.” Thank you for inspiring that idea. :-) Hopefully, people will check out those books to learn the American history they never got in school.

      trish

      January 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      • Hard book to find. I got her book from the University of Michigan in 1986. I did a report on the Sand Creek massacre. I went back for more research. Someone stole the book. My wife found me a copy on e-bay. Helen Jackson book is one of my most precious book.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:12 am

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