Wounded Knee, 1890
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
As the year 1890 wound to a close, a band of more than three hundred Lakota Sioux Indians led by Chief Big Foot made their way toward South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to join other Lakotas seeking peace. Fearing that Big Foot’s band was headed instead to join “hostile” Lakotas, U.S. troops surrounded the group on Wounded Knee Creek. Tensions mounted, and on the morning of December 29, as the Lakotas prepared to give up their arms, disaster struck. Accounts vary on what triggered the violence as Indians and soldiers unleashed thunderous gunfire at each other, but the consequences were horrific: some 200 innocent Lakota men, women, and children were slaughtered. American Carnage—the first comprehensive account of Wounded Knee to appear in more than fifty years—explores the complex events preceding the tragedy, the killings, and their troubled legacy.
In this gripping tale, Jerome A. Greene—renowned specialist on the Indian wars—explores why the bloody engagement happened and demonstrates how it became a brutal massacre. Drawing on a wealth of sources, including previously unknown testimonies, Greene examines the events from both Native and non-Native perspectives, explaining the significance of treaties, white settlement, political disputes, and the Ghost Dance as influential factors in what eventually took place. He addresses controversial questions: Was the action premeditated? Was the Seventh Cavalry motivated by revenge after its humiliating defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn? Should soldiers have received Medals of Honor? He also recounts the futile efforts of Lakota survivors and their descendants to gain recognition for their terrible losses.
Epic in scope and poignant in its recounting of human suffering, American Carnage presents the reality—and denial—of our nation’s last frontier massacre. It will leave an indelible mark on our understanding of American history.
“Jerome Greene’s retelling of Wounded Knee is simply kili (awesome). Please read and understand.”—Her Many Horses, Michael, Wounded Knee community member
“The story of Wounded Knee has been told many times, yet never from the vantage of such a wealth of new sources. Jerome A. Greene provides the definitive last word in this masterfully told account.”—R. Eli Paul, author of Blue Water Creek and the First Sioux War, 1854–1856
“Wounded Knee is an inordinately complex story. Jerome A. Greene’s thoughtful, artful, passionately written story is destined to become its new foundational history.”—Paul L. Hedren, author of After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux Country
“Jerome Greene is uniquely qualified to take on this controversial topic. His long record of publication demonstrates the highest standards of scholarship and guarantees the solidity of his treatment of Wounded Knee.”—ROBERT M . U T L E Y, author of Sitting Bull: The Life and Times of an American Patriot
“American Carnage is an important addition to the body of work on Wounded Knee. Greene’s hefty volume furnishes a comprehensive discussion of the U.S. Army’s most infamous massacre of indigenous people.”—Western Historical Quarterly
“Much has been written about the confrontation at Wounded Knee, but with its meticulous research, evenhanded coverage, and masterful prose, Greene’s book ranks among the best and most complete accounts of this American tragedy.”—Choice
“American Carnage is an excellent book on a complex and controversial subject. Thoroughly researched and incisively written, it is as balanced as any work on the Wounded Knee tragedy can possibly be." —Army History