- Siege at Wounded Knee
- by Mary crow dog (lakota)
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of political activism for Native Americans.
In 1961, more than 65 tribes signed a Declaration of Indian Purpose and
sent it to President Lyndon Johnson, asking for greater autonomy and economic
opportunities on reservations. Though a National Council on Indian Opportunity
was established in 1965 to address their needs, not all Native Americans
were satisfied. In 1968, a militant civil rights group, the American Indian
Movement (AIM), was established to fight for Native American rights and
In this selection, Mary Crow Dog recalls the day that she and other
AIM activists mounted an armed standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota,
to demand greater rights from the U.S. government.
About the Author
Mary Crow Dog (b. 1951) Mary Crow Dog was born Mary Brave Bird on Rosebud
Reservation in South Dakota. Fatherless, Mary grew up in a simple one-room
cabin until she was sent off to missionary school. A rebellious girl who
took to drinking at the age of ten, Mary was unwilling to yield to the
discipline of the missionary nuns, so she quit the school and returned
to the poverty and delinquency of reservation life. After being raped
at fifteen and watching many friends die young, Mary gravitated toward
the a new movement for the spiritual rebirth of Indian tradition.
In 1971, Mary became a political activist for the American Indian Movement
(AIM), taking part in the organization's sit-in at the Bureau of Indian
Affairs in Washington, D.C., in 1972, and the violent, 71-day siege at
Wounded Knee in 1973. She gave birth to her son during the standoff and
later married AIM's chief medicine man, Leonard Crow Dog, who revived
the sacred Indian Ghost Dance which had been outlawed for decades.
Mary Crow Dog has written two memoirs about her experiences as a Sioux
woman struggling for her life, her ancient culture, and human rights.
Lakota Woman (1990) won the American Book Award in 1991.
Ohitika Woman (1993) was published under her birth name,
Mary Brave Bird.
- garrisonedoccupied as a military post.
- alienforeign; belonging to another, very different,
- goonsthugs hired to intimidate or harm opponents.
- rednecksoffensive slang term for the white, rural,
- inevitablyimpossible to avoid or prevent.
- caravana company of travelers journeying together,
as across a desert.
- notiona belief or opinion.
- ravinea deep, narrow valley or gorge in the earth's
surface worn by running water.
- illusionserroneous perceptions of reality.
- perimetera closed curve bonding a plane together.
Use the STUDY GUIDE below as a way to work through the selection
and improve your comprehension of the essay.
Answer the Questions to Consider questions in the book as a way
to develop your understanding of the selection.
1. Why does the author refer to the Sioux tribal office as "Fort Wilson"?
2. Why do you think that tribal leaders on the Pine Ridge reservation
opposed the AIM activists?
3. What emotions does Mary Crow Dog feel when the activists decide to
go to Wounded Knee?
4. To the activists, why did taking control of Wounded Knee seem like
a more effective method of making their point than conducting demonstrations
in the towns of Rapid City and Custer?
5. What were the goals of the activists once they reached Wounded Knee?
Native American Perspectives
Paul Bailey. Wovoka: The Indian Messiah (1957). About the Paiute
prophet who taught the Ghost Dance to Indians in the 1880s.
Benjamin Capps. The Great Chiefs (1975). A lavishly illustrated
book that relates life stories of the great Native American chiefs of
the Old West.
Gregory Dowd. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indians’
Struggle for Unity 1745–1815 (1992). Describes Shawnee Chief Tecumseh’s
efforts to build an independent Indian nation.
Grant Foreman. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized
Tribes of Indians (1932). About the U.S. Army’s 1830s removal of five
southeastern tribes from their lands.
William T. Hagan. American Indians (1979). A history of Native
Americans, from early encounters with whites to the present-day.
Francis Paul Prucha, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy
(1990). A collection of U.S. government documents on Indian policy.
John Tebbel. The American Indian Wars (1960). The history of
Indian wars, written by an Ojibwa journalism professor and historian.
W.C. Vanderwerth. Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian
Chieftains (1971). Noted speeches by the greatest leaders of the Native