Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Once We Get to Wounded Knee

Synopsis

The forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands began with the Trail of Tears in 1838 and culminated at Wounded Knee in 1890. The Wounded Knee Massacre or the Battle of Wounded Knee was the last armed conflict between the Great Sioux Nation and the US, and of all the Indian Wars. On December 29, 1890, 365 troops of the US 7th Cavalry, surrounded an encampment of Sioux near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. The Sioux had been cornered and agreed to turn themselves in at the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota. They were the very last of the Sioux to do so. They were met by the 7th Cavalry, who intended to disarm them. During the process of disarming the Sioux, a scuffle escalated into the 7th Cavalry opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children. By the time it was over, about 146 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

For 400 years, down a Trail of Tears
As angry drums cried, as our buffalo died

To bring it all back, undo bloody attacks
For one final dance, we dance a Ghost Dance
We dance a Ghost Dance, we dance a Ghost Dance

And we summoned the past, so they shut us down fast
Sent in soldiers with guns, to get the job done

So through the Badlands we run, red like a slow setting sun
As spirits wail and moan, white like horrific bones

Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna… oh how safe we’re gonna…
Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna…

But the soldiers beat us there, and at a massacre I stare
At our babies and our women, at our warriors and our children

And a blizzard swept in, enraged with sin
And each contorted pose, of each body froze
Of each body froze, of each body froze

And all was then lost, a genocidal cost
Paid from red to white, and never made right

Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna… oh how safe we’re gonna…
Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna… oh how safe we’re gonna…
Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna… oh how safe we’re gonna…
Once we get to Wounded Knee
Oh how safe we’re gonna… oh how safe we’re gonna…be

Vocabulary

Wounded Knee— The Battle of Wounded Knee was the final armed conflict between the Great Sioux Nation and the US, and of all the Indian Wars.

Trail of Tears— The Trail of Tears (1838) was the relocation and movement of Native Americans in the United States, from their homelands to “Indian Territory” in the Western United States, initiated by President Andrew Jackson in order to make way for white westward expansion. Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their destinations, and many died, thus the journey was called “The Trail of Tears”.

Ghost Dance— The Ghost Dance was a messianic religious movement among Native American peoples of the Southwest and Great Plains in the late 19th century. Ghost dance prophets foretold the imminent disappearance of whites, the restoration of traditional lands and ways of life, and the resurrection of dead ancestors. The practice swept throughout much of the American West, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. Perhaps the best-known facet of the Ghost Dance movement is the role it reportedly played in instigating the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890.

Genocidal— Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What was The Battle at Wounded Knee?

What was the Trail of Tears?

Tier 2 Questions

How are the Trail of Tears and Manifest Destiny related?

Tier 3 Questions

Imagine you are a Native American being forced off your land, forced to walk hundreds of miles to an unknown new home. Write a poem expressing your emotions and your feelings along this journey.

Test Prep Questions

1) President Andrew Jackson’s policy toward Native American Indians was created to

  • (1) encourage Native American Indians to become part of mainstream American society
  • (2) force Native American Indians to move west of the Mississippi River
  • (3) improve educational opportunities for Native American Indians
  • (4) grant citizenship to Native American Indians

2) In an effort to resolve conflicts with the frontier settlers in the 1870s, the federal government forced Native American Indians to

  • (1) move west of the Mississippi River
  • (2) live on reservations with definite boundaries
  • (3) relocate to urban industrial centers
  • (4) help build the transcontinental railroad

3) As a result of President Andrew Jackson’s policies, Native American Indians were

  • (1) relocated to reservations in Mexico
  • (2) forcibly removed to areas west of the Mississippi River
  • (3) gradually allowed to return to their ancestral lands
  • (4) given United States citizenship

Thematic Essay 1

Theme: Migration of Peoples
Throughout our nation’s history, important migrations or movements of people within the United States have occurred. These migrations have had a significant impact on both the people who moved and on American society.

Task: Identify two migrations or movements of people within the United States and for each

  • Discuss the historical circumstances that led to the migration of these people
  • Discuss the impact of the migration on the people who moved and/or on American society

You may use any important migration or movement of people from your study of United States history. Some suggestions you might wish to consider include the forced migration of Native American Indians (1800–1880), the westward movement (1840–1890), the migration of African Americans from the South to cities in the North (1900–1929), the Puerto Rican migration to the North after World War II (1945–1960), the westward migration from the Dust Bowl (1930s), suburbanization (1945–present), and the migration to the Sun Belt (1950–present).