Wounded Knee Escort Horses
AP Photo
Harlington Wood, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, third row center without hat, is escorted into Wounded Knee by Indians of the AIM on March 13, 1973. Second row, left, is Russell Means, one of the AIM leaders and Carter Camp, another leader walks beside Wood. Wood was sent to the reservation in an effort to find a solution to the problem.

13 Images: Remembering the Occupation of Wounded Knee


On February 27, 1973, some 250 Sioux Indians led by members of the American Indian Movement converged on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, launching the famous 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee.

“In a way, it was a very beautiful experience,” said Len Foster, a Navajo man who joined AIM in 1970 and was at Wounded Knee for the entire 71 days. “It was a time to look at the commitment we made and a willingness to put our lives on the line for a cause.”

We present these images to remember that movement and those who stand up for Native rights—then and now.

A historical marker commemorates the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 near Sacred Heart Catholic Church. (AP File Photo)

A child digs a foxhole during the 1973 occupation at Wounded Knee. (Kevin McKiernan)

Indians on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota watch U.S. Marshals on the ridge beyond as both sides remained at a standoff on March 3, 1973. (AP Photo)

In this March 3, 1973 file photo, a U.S. flag flies upside down outside a church occupied by members of the American Indian Movement, background, on the site of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee triggered a violent standoff with federal authorities. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

These two men said they were Vietnam veterans. They rest in a bunker at Wounded Knee on March 13, 1973 after joining the American Indian Movement there. (AP Photo)

This image of Robert Onco and his rifle from the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973 became famous after it was put on an American Indian Movement poster. (AP Photo)

Russell Means, right, an AIM leader, beats the drum at a meeting on Friday, March 10, 1973. Man at left is not identified. (AP Photo)

American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks holds an envelope addressed to the Justice Department containing ashes of a federal proposal for Indians to evacuate Wounded Knee, on March 5, 1973. AIM leaders burned the document. Russell Means, center, and Carter Camp look on. (AP Photo)

In this March 18, 1973 file photo taken in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks, left, reads an offer by U.S. government seeking to effect an end to the takeover of Wounded Knee. Looking on is AIM leader Carter Camp. Camp, a longtime activist with the American Indian Movement who was a leader in the Wounded Knee occupation, died December 27, 2013, in White Eagle, Oklahoma. He was 72. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Russell Means, left, and assistant U.S. Attorney General Kent Frizzell sign the Wounded Knee settlement on April 5, 1973 in South Dakota. Looking on left is Frizzell’s assistant Richard Helstern and AIM leader Dennis Banks.

Reporter Kevin McKiernan is pictured with Tom Bad Cob and Oscar Bear Runner during the 1973 occupation. (Kevin McKiernan)

Dennis Banks, an American Indian Movement leader, shows depleted food supply at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on March 25, 1973. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)

RELATED: Native History AIM Occupation of Wounded Knee Begins

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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
The Wounded Knee Siege of 1973 was a modern day history in the making and the world watched for the 71 days. Although most tribal members and non-Indian advocates were not actually present, our hearts soared -for and with- those fearless souls who were telling the government that enough was enough. Broken treaties that once promised land, water, food, health services and education in exchange for taking everything that was theirs by birthright were outright lies and have never delivered any sufficient services that was promised. Has this changed? Are tribes better off now than they were in 1973? In the coming eight years, 2023, we will look back fifty years to the Wounded Knee Siege and continue to ask ourselves "How much better off are we - truly?" The solidly frozen grounds that embodied the children, men and women at the Wounded Knee Massacre also seems to have captured the frozen the hearts of government officials - to this very day,forty years ago, when tribal warriors stood in defiance and unity with the rallying words "Remember Wounded Knee!"

Lisa Modica-Ruiz
Lisa Modica-Ruiz
Submitted by Lisa Modica-Ruiz on
Who is the child digging a foxhole. What ever happened to him and how did Wounded Knee affect his life.

Margie Platt
Margie Platt
Submitted by Margie Platt on
It is good to remember..remember what was, and what can be...To all the warriors, both men and woman, I send blessings to you.

Wiyaka Zi Wicasa's picture
Wiyaka Zi Wicasa
Submitted by Wiyaka Zi Wicasa on
Forty One Years Later Written February 27, 2014 Forty One years ago I and my little brother slept in a tent in Oglala while our mother was in Wounded Knee. My mother is not American Indian Movement (AIM), she's an Oglala and Warrior Society, and was always about her people. I remember the 70's, very well. I remember the trials and the defense committee. I remember marching in support of other people's and causes. Like the migrant workers. If you were with us in anything we've done, are doing now, or what we will do, then you know what I'm talking about because we're family. We were born in the struggle and we'll be in the struggle until the day we die. We support others in their struggle, like the Hasapa, during the civil rights era. As well as other people and causes that are about the people, whether they're our people or not, and whether or not they remember us in our struggles when they become white. The American Indian Movement came to lend support to the Oglala and were invited by the Civil Rights Office. Remember the meeting in Calico? AIM was invited to support the Oglala, as guests, and the Oglala decided to go to Wounded Knee. Do you remember? Ask one of the people who were there if you didn't know about this bit of history. Ask my mother, Regina Brave, who was at the meeting in Calico. The takeover of Wounded Knee was an Oglala thing, with AIM as guests, which people seem to forget or just don't know. Then people forgot the real reason they were there in Wounded Knee in 1973 when the media arrived. I remember my aunt Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash, who was respected and honored by my people in Oglala, and by almost all who knew her. I call her daughter, Denise Pictou-Maloney, my little sister and cousin. I remember when they buried her (Aunt Annie Mae) in Oglala. I remember when they convicted the AIM members who murdered my aunt. Arlo and John Boy. Arlo who was in federal custody, seems to have disappeared, or did anyone notice? There is no statute of limitations for murder. The witness protection program? More indictments coming soon? I called Arlo and John Boy my relatives at one time too. I remember those who went to Wounded Knee and disappeared, people like Ray Robinson, and who knows how many others. I remember speaking to a man that I had at one time called my uncle, that the words that I heard him say, and words that those I called my aunts and uncles kept me strong in my resolve to work for my people. Whether it was discrimination cases, or just standing up to injustice. That when I was tear gassed, beat down, and lying on a concrete slab in four point restraints, I remembered their words and never uttered a whimper in pain at what I suffered. But that I never thought that they would go against what they taught us. That there would NEVER be PIGS, whether state or federal, in AIM. That they would NEVER help the State or Feds to convict a Native in Court, that they would deal with it privately. I said that I understand that when it comes time to be about it that there are very few who are really about it. I told him that I just wanted to thank him, that I'm not calling him out as being a snitch or government informant, although he is a snitch and government informant in my eyes. And that I believe that there are AIM members who testified at the grand jury to get Peltier indicted, but we'll never know for sure, because the indictment is sealed. That he and the others who are snitches and government witnesses have to do what they feel is the right thing to do for their bitch asses. I told him I never uttered any words about what I would do and how I would do it, that I was taught to be an Oglala, with the morals and ethics of our Societies, that my Brothers, Sisters, and my people know what I've done, and what I continue to do. But, that I wanted him to know that his words and the words of those other AIM members and supporters kept me strong in my resolve when I stood alone, with broken bones, and blood streaming from me. The issues are the same today as they were then, whether our people know about it or not, and if they don't then they better wake up. The elected tribal council were not truly representing the people in 1973, in regards to the Black Hills, jurisdiction, land issues, leases, etc. Many of these same issues, TODAY, are shared with other Native Nations, like the Keystone XL Pipeline. The same issues that led to Wounded Knee in 1973 are here again. It, Wounded Knee 1973, never started as an AIM vs GOON thing. Except this time we have AIM members on the Tribal Council and a party to what's going on. I remember visiting family in Pine Ridge in the '70's and being the only male with long hair. I remember when family members in Pine Ridge would talk about my mother in my presence, saying that I'm Regina's son, talking about me in my presence, but never to me. I remember when these family members started to talk to me and not about me, in the 80's. I remember how it was before all of these new AIM members, chapters, and support groups came into existence. I grew up calling people who I'm not related to by blood, my aunts and uncles, and their children my brothers and sisters, my cousins. I have many relatives whose parents were part of the struggle, whose children are part of the struggle now, both as AIM members and as members of their Native Nations. I'll walk with those who are about the people. I support many things and causes, I walk beside them, and when it's time for me to leave, I'm out. I'm Oglala Lakota, my life belongs to my people. No, I'm not AIM, even though I was given a patch by one of the founders years ago, and am welcome to sit with the old timers. I remember when my people were killing each other after Wounded Knee and after AIM had left. We remember, don't we, my fellow Oglala? I remember when my people put aside their past differences to work for the good of ALL Oglala. I remember when the movie Thunderheart came out, and how there were visitors to the Wounded Knee 1973 Anniversary, how these people had a lot to say on what they would have done had they been in Pine Ridge and at Wounded Knee in 1973, stirring up animosity among my people. Then they left to go home, just like they did in 1973, then the assaults and killings among the Oglala started. Again. I remember when the American Indian Movement led boycotts and marches against injustice against Natives. I believe that many still do. Whether it was about mascots, burial sites, disrespect of Native beliefs and practices, misappropriation of Native culture. Many issues. Like when non-Natives misappropriate (Nice way of saying STEAL) cultural beliefs and practices. Non-Natives misrepresenting themselves as Natives for profit, like dressing up and giving lectures on Natives in schools, or Pow Wow's. You know what I mean. I remember when at the death of a respected AIM member, like Caesar Cross Dog, an Oglala Lakota and Warrior Society member, AIM members would caravan across the country to attend the service. Those who have done this for others who earned their place know what I mean. AIM would join the family, community, and Nation of the one who crossed. Those who did this honoring were the old school Natives and AIMsters. I recently attended the service of a man I called uncle, Bobby Onco. His picture was the face of AIM and Wounded Knee in 1973, his picture was put on the Associated Press (AP) wires, and was on every major newspaper around the world. There was no AIM representation at his service. At least I was there, as a friend, to represent the Oglala and Society members who couldn't be there. Rest in Peace, Uncle Bobby Onco - One of the few men I honor and respect. Bobby Onco - Vietnam Veteran (Special Forces) 1968 and Veteran of Wounded Knee 1973. 3/3/15 HE'S THE MAN HOLDING THE AK47.