Native Sun News: 'They killed my father and brother for no reason'

A magnificent sky looms over members of the Lakota Nation as they participate in the 1990 Big Foot Ride that marked the Centennial of the Wounded Knee Massacre on Dec. 29, 1890. The ride was led by Birgil Kills Straight. Photo courtesy Bill Groethe

‘They killed my father and brother for no reason at all’
Alice Ghost Horse / Kills The Enemy / War Bonnet’s story

WOUNDED KNEE –– In the preface of Rapid City attorney Mario Gonzalez’s book “Politics on Hallowed Ground” is a candid story by Wounded Knee Massacre survivor Alice Ghost Horse/Kills the Enemy/War Bonnet a Hohwoju or Mnicoujou from Spotted Elk’s (Big Foot) band that, “Every American should read.”

The manuscript, presented to Gonzalez by Sam Eagle Staff (Mnicoujou) had been translated from Lakota to English by Sidney Keith (Mnicoujou). Ghost Horse told her story to her son John War Bonnet (Mnicoujou) who wrote it down in Lakota. From there Goldie Iron Hawk (Mnicoujou) kept the letters until 1979 when she gave them to Keith for safekeeping and translation.

Following is Alice Ghost Horse/Kills the Enemy/War Bonnet’s story:

“We were camped at the mouth of Cherry Creek last part of December 1890. I was 13 years old at the time. There was my father (Ghost Horse) and my mother Alice Her Shawl and two younger brothers. The wicasa itacan (male leader) was Spotted Elk (Big Foot).Up the creek was Hump and his followers. Our people were scattered all up and down the creek toward Bridger, South Dakota, a place called now takini (barely surviving). They all lived the farthest away but they were all hohwoju’s just as we were all minneco[n]ju.

Rest of the Lakotas were already assimilated with the whites east end and were already under military rule. They were being trained to be farmers and were given land to plant things. At this time my people were ghost dancing above Plum Creek, straight east of Cherry Creek across the river. We went up there when they have the dances, but children were not allowed in so my brothers and I play near the wagons. The dances usually last four days and quite a few camp up there during that time, we usually go back to Cherry Creek when they get through.

The agent at Fort Bennet (Cheyenne Agency) was a military officer and he would send Lakota scouts to the camp to ask questions about the ghost dance.

The ghost dance was like a sun dance which was held once a year about August. In the ghost dance they form a circle holding hands and they dance stationary not like the sun dance. But they sing and dance. Usually starts at almost sundown and lasts for couple hours. They do this till someone falls or several fall. They wait till they tell what they saw or hear during their trance, the purpose of the dance was to see their dead relatives and converse with them and they continue.

One day some people came from Standing Rock and told Big Foot that Sitting Bull was shot and killed by Indian police, provoked by agent.

Big Foot decided they should flee to Pine Ridge. They thought that Sitting Bull was killed because of the Ghost dance. On short notice it was decided to move out the very next day so they all staked out their horses close by and they all went to bed.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: ‘They killed my father and brother for no reason at all’

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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