Spiritual Coaching Vol 3 #48 Bury My Heart… http://www.dennymeyer.me
One of the saddest most fulfilling moments of my life occurred on a visit to Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It was dusk and there had been a powerful thunderstorm that just passed on a hot summer day. Our van filled with kids on a mission trip pulled up near the cemetery. As we got out a double rainbow appeared to the east as we walked around and thought about the tragedy of 1890 when the U.S. 7th Cavalry massacred 300 Sioux Indians. But on this day in 1973 armed members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) surrender to federal authorities, ending their 71-day siege of Wounded Knee.
AIM was founded in 1968 by Russell Means and other Native-American leaders as a militant political and civil rights organization. From November 1969 to June 1971, AIM members occupied Alcatraz Island off San Francisco, saying they had rights to it under a treaty provision granting them unused federal land. In November 1972, AIM members briefly occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., to protest programs controlling reservation development. The mistreatment of Native Americans is well known. Visit Pine Ridge Reservation sometime. The poverty is overwhelming. We have failed as a country over and over again to do the right thing and we as a nation pay the consequences.
The occupation of Wounded Knee was a means of forcing a federal investigation of Bureau of Indian Affairs and other reservations in the U.S. In addition to the historical tragedy, Wounded Knee is one of the poorest communities in the United States and shared with the other Pine Ridge settlements some of the country’s lowest rates of life expectancy.
History.com states, “On February 27, 1973, some 200 AIM-led Sioux seized control of Wounded Knee, taking 11 allies of Dick Wilson hostage as local authorities and federal agents descended on the reservation. The next day, AIM members traded gunfire with the federal marshals surrounding the settlement and fired on automobiles and low-flying planes that dared come within rifle range. Russell Means began negotiations for the release of the hostages, demanding that the U.S. Senate launch an investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Pine Ridge, and all Sioux reservations in South Dakota, and that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings on the scores of Indian treaties broken by the U.S. government.
The Wounded Knee occupation lasted for a total of 71 days, during which time two Sioux men were shot to death by federal agents. One federal agent was paralyzed after being shot. On May 8, the AIM leaders and their supporters surrendered after White House officials promised to investigate their complaints. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were arrested, but on September 16, 1973, the charges against them were dismissed by a federal judge because of the U.S. government’s unlawful handling of witnesses and evidence.”
We like to forget the things that are distasteful to us but we must never forget the pain we have caused the Native Peoples of America. Do I have an answer as to what to do? My honest answer is, no. Remembering is the first step. At time we pretend to be wise but we do not seek God. Humility is our first step toward a redeemed life; St Paul wrote, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:21-22
Let’s be wise and seek God’s way of mercy and justice when we deal with others.