Wounded Knee means many things to many people. Then there are those who’ve never heard of the place. American history is taught with a carefully edited eye to the white mans point of view. But to most of the Native people of this continent Wounded Knee stands as a tipping point. It is the Ferguson of the era of conquest and oppression of the indigenous people of this land.
This year, on December 29th, is the 125th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee. It is a massacre that took place because the white army perceived the natives as dangerous and unruly. It took place because there was no understanding or appreciation of different points of view, different religious practices. It took place because a failure to communicate lead to a “need” to control, to take away human and civil liberties, and to respond with brute force to a perceived threat.
There are many tellings of what happened at Wounded Knee. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee back in 1974. On line there are several accounts eye witnesses, official reports, and of course wikipedia. All the versions agree that the natives were practicing their religion illegally. (The practice of the Ghost Dance was banned) They all agree that hundreds of men, women and children were killed. They don’t all agree on why.
The massacre at Wounded Knee is a living injury in the hearts of the Native people. These are their ancestors, and they are honored with dance, and song and story, and a reenactment of the ride to escape the soldiers.
When I was at the Parliament of World Religions I attended several seminars led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse. He is one of the spiritual leaders of the ride. This year, on this anniversary, he called on us a spiritual leaders to join together and help heal the hearts of those massacred unjustly. He asked us to pray not only for Wounded Knee, but for all those killed in massacres because they are perceived as “other” or “threatening” simply for trying to make their way in the world.
So I created a Facebook event and will write on and off for the next week about things we can do. Let us join together, in spirit, in ritual, in prayer. The Natives pray “all my relations” and recognize that we are all related, we are all one. These are our relatives, our ancestors who have died at Wounded Knee, in Boznia, at Tiananmen Square, in Rwanda, in Syria. These are our relations killed in the Holocaust, in the streets and prisons of the USA, in the Ukraine.
As Chief Looking Horse invites us, let us stop the massacres, let us heal hearts, let us move forward in a Sacred Way.