While in South Dakota we visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; home to the Oglala Sioux tribe. The people of this reservation are among the poorest in America. Third World is the best phrase to describe their living conditions. It is not out of the ordinary for a home to be without running water, indoor toilets, and/or electricity. The teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group and the infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average. It is a sad place with a sad history.
Within the reservation is the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 when the U.S. Army’s 7th Calvary butchered at least 150 Sioux Indians, half of which were women and children.
We went with the intention of visiting the cemetery which holds the remains of those most unfortunate people, but we also got a surprise lecture about Wounded Knee given by a descendant of one who was there.
After this we visited the cemetery across the street. The little girl in the above picture, her name is Kimmy, asked if she could hold Lucy; we couldn’t say no.
The story goes that a baby was found four days after the massacre still alive. She was adopted by Gen. Leonard Colby and his wife as a kind of souvenir of the Wounded Knee.
It’s heartbreaking to see a people so defeated that they still live under the shadow of the past 126 years later.