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Tim Giago: Indigenous Holocaust museum at Wounded Knee

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: massacres, museums, native sun news, oglala sioux, south dakota, tim giago, wounded knee

The following opinion by Tim Giago appears in the latest issue of the Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.

Since 1492 the history of the Western Hemisphere has been marked by one of the greatest holocausts in the history of the world.

There are no true figures to quote about how many millions of indigenous people have perished in this land that was once their own. Those who wrote the history of the settlement of these lands often reduced the numbers of deaths because they were so high that it would make the invaders of this land appear in history has blood thirsty barbarians. No culture wants to be remembered like this.

But somewhere in the books of man there is a compilation of the millions of indigenous people who died at the hands of the invaders whether by guns, knives or diseases.

In Washington D. C. there is a museum to mark the holocaust brought upon the Jewish people by Adolph Hitler. It is a place of tragedy and yet it reminds the world of what happened to the Jews in hopes that this will never happen again. More than 6 million Jews died in the death camps operated by the Nazis and the Holocaust Museum stands as a stark reminder of these tragedies. Perhaps five to ten times that number of indigenous people died beginning in 1492.

It would be prophetic if the Oglala Sioux Tribe would build a holocaust museum to educate and to remind the world of what happened to the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere. From South America, Central America and North America, millions of indigenous people died protecting and defending what was theirs.

What happened to the Native people everywhere in the Western Hemisphere is one of the most shameful chapters in the history of mankind on this planet called earth.

Wounded Knee may have been the final chapter on this holocaust of indigenous people. It is only right that the Oglala Lakota build a Holocaust Museum of the Indigenous People right here on the grounds where the massacre of the Lakota took place on December 29, 1890.

The museum could house the history of the millions who died from the tip of South America to the top of North America. Every indigenous tribe has its stories of the death and destruction that was visited upon their people. A museum of this nature would draw visitors from around the world and it would inform and educate the masses as to the true history of the Natives of this Hemisphere. But more than that, the museum would serve as a stark reminder that the hands of the invaders were not clean, but they were the hands of a people who tried in vain to destroy a culture and a people.

Whether that destruction came in the form of forced religions or in the quest for gold, indigenous people died in its wake. There are hundreds of stories to be told and hundreds of photos and artifacts to substantiate the holocaust of the Native people. It should be a priority venture for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and there should be many wealthy people and the United States government itself that would contribute money and the expertise to make the Holocaust Museum of the Indigenous People a reality.

It is time to stop talking about the genocide foisted upon us and to do something about it. This idea is one that is achievable. We now need the Lakota people of vision to cease upon it and make it happen. It is time to tell the true history of the invasion of the Americas and about the millions of deaths that ensued.

And the Lakota People should be the leaders in this endeavor because for all intent and purposes, the holocaust of the indigenous people ended on the Sacred Grounds at Wounded Knee.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the Class of 1991. He was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be reached at

More from Tim Giago:
Tim Giago: Remembering Al Neuharth, a South Dakota newsman (4/22)

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