Hundreds of Indians held a spiritual ceremony Saturday at this massacre site to commemorate the 100th anniversary of one of the saddest days in their history.
About 100 horseback riders and several hundred others watched as Indian spiritual leaders conducted the half-hour ceremony in subzero temperatures at the grave site of 146 Sioux Indians killed by U.S. Cavalry troops a century ago."To us, it was a massacre unjustified," said Mario Gonzalez, attorney for the Wounded Knee Survivors Association. "The Army had no legal right to do what it did. We want Wounded Knee to be remembered, so it will never happen again."
Russell Means, leader of the militant American Indian Movement, blocked the entrance to the cemetery when Gov. George Mickelson showed up to pay his respects. The governor made no effort to get past him but entered the cemetery later, said an aide.
"He said I wasn't welcome," the governor said. "He wants to make a mockery of all that has occurred in reconciliation."
Mickelson later declared 1990 the Year of Reconciliation as part of state efforts to improve relations between Indians and non-Indians.
The ceremony was conducted in temperatures of 21 below and a wind chill of 60 to 70 below zero.
The riders had retraced the 220-mile journey that Chief Big Foot and his band took before they were killed by cavalry troops at Wounded Knee.
The governor said he will keep trying to persuade federal officials to create a national monument at Wounded Knee. The site should be preserved according to the wishes of Wounded Knee descendants.