Red Tide, Vol. II, No. 6 (Issue #10)
Wounded Knee Struggle Will Continue
[By Michael Letwin]
After 71 days of secession and attempted existence as an independent nation, and after two Native Americans have been murdered by the U.S. government, the members of the nation of Wounded Knee surrendered their positions to a foreign nation, the U.S. Again, as in all chapters of the history of Native Americans, the “good guys” won (the white soldiers) and the “bad guys” lost (the Redskins). Moral: you can’t fight city hall. Or so the Government would have us think.
However the occupation of Wounded Knee, which ended on May 8th, was in a large number of ways a victory for the Native Americans. For the first time, the media and government has had to take seriously the demands and grievances of Native Americans and of the American Indian Movement (AIM).
But more important than that is the fact that the people of America got one of the first glimpses of the truth about Indian life and struggles. Of course, it was only a glimpse, as almost all reports tricklikng out of the area were based on the often untrue Government reports.
Wounded Knee has come at a time when the Government and the capitalist class that it serves are cracking down on the struggles of workers, to vigorously break strikes, to cut down the already almost nonexistent poverty and education programs, and when prices are high, wages are low when profits are soaring.
It is a widely recognized fact among Americans that the Indian population of this country has long been in poverty (e.g., many Indians at wounded Knee live on as little as $258 a year), and subjected to oppression, so that when the occupation of Wounded Knee first took place, the Harris Poll reported that 51% of the people that they interviewed supported the actions of the Indians at Wounded Knee.
The Indians were not the only ones to realize that the Government does not act on, and the media does not report on, the needs of people in this society, unless they are forced to, or unless a story is “newsworthy”; It was in this fact that lay the necessity of dramatic and militant actions at Wounded Knee, which so many newspapers called “untimely”, “tactless” and “unappetizing”.
So Wounded Knee is “over”. The U.S. Government, in its aggression against a nation, has murdered at least two people. The treaty signed at Wounded Knee on Sunday May 6th, does not solve the problems of Indian people.
It promises that the Government will “investigate” the treaty signed with the Lakota (Sioux) in 1868, which like all treaties signed with Native Americans was never observed by the U.S. The people who occupied Wounded Knee are to be held, prsoecuted, and probably jailed.
The Government hopes that the media and the country will soon forget about Wounded Knee because there are no longer Indians at Wounded Knee giving dramatic poses to the media with their old .22s and shotguns, against tanks and M-16s. The issues of autonomy, poverty, and civil rights are not being dealt with.
For these reasons, it is important that all people concerned with the Indian struggle to stay informed about what happens to the people of Wounded Knee, to make sure that they are not railroaded into jail for the rest of their lives. For their struggle will continue, like all struggles for freedom, until it wins.