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The occupation of Wounded Knee

In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They were protesting the murder of an Oglala Lakota man and the failed impeachment of a tribal president that AIM members accused of corruption. The protests escalated into a deadly standoff that lasted 71 days.
AP
In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They were protesting the murder of an Oglala Lakota man and the failed impeachment of a tribal president that AIM members accused of corruption. The protests escalated into a deadly standoff that lasted 71 days.

This interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The Heart of All Oral History project is an audio series developed by Little Wound School with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project aims to preserve the oral traditions of the Lakota people.

For two months in 1973, Wounded Knee, in the Pine Ridge reservation, was occupied by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Leaders of the siege declared the territory an independent Oglala Nation. Members of AIM set up barricades in opposition to racism, corruption, and the policies of then-tribal president Dick Wilson.

When AIM took control of Wounded Knee, US government officials laid siege of their own, using guns, tanks, and jets in an attempt to retake the territory. What followed was violent and tumultuous and historic.

In a new episode of the oral history project, Jessie Pulliam, Jimmy Christensen, Harold Salway Left Heron, Earl Tall, Birgil Kills Straight, Joe Whiting, Dick Marshall, and Bernadette Hollow Horn. recount the first days of the occupation in February 1973.

In the weeks that followed, two demonstrators were killed and more than a dozen protestors and law enforcement agents were wounded.

The siege ended May 8, 1973, when the government retook control of wounded knee.

Dick Wilson would remain tribal president for another three years.

New episodes of the Oral History Project air Wednesdays on KILI Radio. This weeks episode, "Relocation and occupation" is available now on streaming services.

Carl Norquist is a producer and writer for In the Moment. An EMMY-winning producer, Carl previously worked for KTIV News 4 in Sioux City, IA. Carl is a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana University with majors in Art and English.
Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.