On This Day, Feb. 27, 1973 – American Indian Movement Occupies Wounded Knee
1973 – The American Indian Movement occupied Wouned Knee in South Dakota.
On that winter day in 1973, a large group of armed American Indians reclaimed Wounded Knee in the name of the Lakota Nation.
During the preceding months of the Wounded Knee occupation, civil war brewed among the Oglala people. There became a clear-cut between the traditional Lakota people and the more progressive minded government supporters. The traditional people wanted more independence from the Federal Government, as well as honoring of the 1868 Sioux treaty. According to the 1868 treaty, the Black Hills of South Dakota still belonged to the Sioux people, and the traditional people wanted the Federal Government to honor their treaty by returning the sacred Black Hills to the Sioux people.
Another severe problem on the Pine Ridge reservation was the strip mining of the land. The chemicals used by the mining operations were poisoning the land and the water. People were getting sick, and children were being born with birth defects. The tribal government and its supporters encouraged the strip mining and the sale of the Black Hills to the Federal Government.
The young AIM warriors, idealistic and defiant, were like a breath of fresh air to the Indian people, and their ideas quickly caught on. When AIM took control of Wounded Knee, over seventy-five different Indian Nations were represented, with more supporters arriving daily from all over the country. Soon United States Armed Forces in the form of Federal Marshals, and the National Guard surrounded the large group. All roads to Wounded Knee were cut off, but still, people slipped through the lines, pouring into the occupied area.
The forces inside Wounded Knee demanded an investigation into misuse of tribal funds; the goon squad’s violent aggression against people who dared speak out against the tribal government. In addition they wanted the Senate Committee to launch an investigation into the BIA (Bureau if Indian Affairs) and the Department of the Interior regarding their handling of the affairs of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The warriors also demanded an investigation into the 371 treaties between the Native Nations and the Federal Government, all of which had been broken by the United States.
The warriors that occupied Wounded Knee held fast to these demands and refused to lay down arms until they were met.
During the Wounded Knee occupation, they would live in their traditional manner, celebrating a birth, a marriage and they would mourn the death of two of their fellow warriors inside Wounded Knee. AIM member, Buddy Lamont was hit by M16 fire and bled to death inside Wounded Knee.
AIM member, Frank Clearwater was killed by heavy machine gun fire, inside Wounded Knee.
After 71 days, the Siege at Wounded Knee had come to an end; with the government making nearly 1200 arrests. But this would only mark the beginning of what was known as the “Reign of Terror” instigated by the FBI and the BIA. During the three years following Wounded Knee, 64 tribal members were unsolved murder victims, 300 harassed and beaten, and 562 arrests were made, and of these arrests only 15 people were convicted of any crime. A large price to pay for 71 days as a free people on the land of one’s ancestors.
1801 – The city of Washington, DC, was placed under congressional jurisdiction.
1827 – New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras celebration.
1883 – Oscar Hammerstein patented the first cigar-rolling machine.
Hammerstein, the grandfather of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, made ends meet initially by working at a cigar factory on Pearl Street. He worked his way up to become a cigar maker himself, and also founded the U.S Tobacco Journal. Hammerstein would eventually become the owner of at least 80 patents, with most of them being related to the machines he made for the cigar-making process. Hammerstein’s most well-known contribution to the cigar-making process is adding an air-suctioning component to the traditional cigar-making machines, and the component would hold down the tobacco leaves firmly so that they could be cut more cleanly.
1896 – The “Charlotte Observer” published a picture of an X-ray photograph made by Dr. H.L. Smith. The photograph showed a perfect picture of all the bones of a hand and a bullet that Smith had placed between the third and fourth fingers in the palm.
1922 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote.
1933 – The Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building in Berlin, was set afire. The Nazis accused Communist for the fire.
1939 – The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed sit-down strikes.
1949 – Chaim Weizmann became the first Israeli president.
1951 – The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting Presidents to two terms.
1974 – “People” magazine was first issued by Time-Life (later known as Time-Warner).
1982 – Wayne B. Williams was convicted of murdering two of the 28 black children and young adults whose bodies were found in Atlanta, GA, over a two-year period.
1986 – The U.S. Senate approved the telecast of its debates on a trial basis.
1990 – The Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping were indicted on five criminal counts in reference to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
1991 – President George H.W. Bush announced live on television that “Kuwait is liberated.”
1997 – In Ireland, divorce became legal.
1998 – Britain’s House of Lords agreed to give a monarch’s first-born daughter the same claim to the throne as any first-born son. This was the end to 1,000 years of male preference.
Source: On-This-Day.com; Siouxme.com; Wikipedia.org