Title: Indian Griefs to Washington

Periodical: The Duluth News Tribune

Date: December 16, 1913

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Complain That They Were Beguiled Into Fighting Another Battle for the "Movies."


Assert History Is Distorted to Make Heroes of White Men and Put Redmen in Wrong.

PINE RIDGE AGENCY, S. D., Dec. 15. — The Sioux Indians are mad. They feel they have been injured and insulted by the moving picture concerns and are preparing to frame a protest at a meeting at which thousands of Sioux will be in attendance. And a committee of redmen is to be sent to Washington to protest to the government against the acceptance as authentic of a "movie" film of the battle of Wounded Knee, the last battle between the whites and the reds.

The Indians say the "movie" people distorted the facts of the battle to such a degree that the prowess of the red man is belittled, and that, while the film which has just been made on the reservation may be a splendid thing in itself, it does not represent the battle which it purports to show. And since a copy of this film is to be placed in the department at Washington, thus making it really an official record of the last big battle, the Indians are "kicking."

As an example of the inaccuracies with which the Indians say the film abounds, they call attention to the fact that Gen. Nelson A. Miles, who takes a prominent part in the film, was probably 50 miles away and so far as known was never on the actual field of battle until he posed for the "movies." Likewise, Buffalo Bill, who plays the part of the hero in the film battle, was at the agency, 18 miles away, when the engagement was fought.

Say They Were Not Aggressors.

But the most serious point to which the Sioux make objections is that in the film battle they are about equal in number to the soldiers; that they are well mounted, armed with army rifles, and are ready for battle — in fact, that the Indians themselves began the fight. On the other hand, say the Indians, the reds numbered less than 400, a majority of whom were women and children, that they were all on foot during the fight, that most of them had already given up their guns and were therefore defenseless, that what guns they had were old-fashioned muzzle-loaders in a decrepit condition, and that the Indians were not the aggressors.

The soldiers engaged — the Seventh cavalry — was the old General Custer regiment, massacred on the Little Big Horn in 1876, and the Pine Ridge Sioux were the Indians who did the massacring. Every trooper of the Seventh was spoiling for a fight with these Sioux.

As for the claim that many survivors of the Wounded Knee battle took part in the "movie" battle, the Indians say there were no Indian survivors. The Indians were within a hollow square with soldiers on all sides of them. Only one Indian, a lame one, came through without a scratch or got past the line of soldiers. All the others, about 400, were either killed or wounded, mostly killed. At least, in the big grave into which all the dead Indians were thrown there are more than 350, a majority of whom were women and children. After the shooting began, the little band of Indians was raked by a deadly fire from all directions.

White Man Suggests Indian Version.

M. R. Gilmore, curator of the Nebraska State Historical society, who was present when the films were made, agrees with the Indian version. He is indignant over what he calls the misrepresentation which will appear in the films, especially as the government is a third party in the proceedings and expects to file the films as historical data.

The Indians say they did not know they were reproducing the "Wounded Knee" battle, but understood they were simply taking part in a sham battle for the "movies." Later, when they discovered that the white people called the exhibition "Wounded Knee" and that it was to go down in history, they were indignant.

They have called a meeting of the grand council of the tribe, which will frame a formal protest to the government.