Eyewitness at Wounded Knee
On a wintry day in December 1890, near a creek named Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the Seventh Cavalry of the U. S. Army opened fire on an encampment of Sioux Indians led by Big Foot. Coming two weeks after the killing of Sitting Bull, in a tense atmosphere of suspicion and misunderstanding, the careless discharge of one gun set off a massacre that claimed more than 250 lives, including those of many Indian women and children. The tragedy at Wounded Knee, which is generally considered the last episode of the Indian Wars, has often been written about but the existing photographs have received little attention until now.
Eyewitness at Wounded Knee brings together and assesses for the first time some 150 photographs that were made before and immediately after the massacre. Present at the scene were two itinerant photographers, George Trager and Clarence Grant Moreledge, whose work has never before been published. Accompanying commentaries focus on both the Indian and military sides of the story. Richard Jensen's "Another Look at Wounded Knee" dwells on the political and economic quagmire in which the Sioux found themselves after 1877. In "Your Country Is Surrounded," R. Eli Paul discusses the army's role at Wounded Knee. John Carter, in "Making Pictures for a News-Hungry Nation," deals with the photographers and also the reporters and relic hunters who were looking to profit from the misfortune of others. Their words enhance our appreciation of the haunting images in this first book-length photographic history of the events that led up to and followed the bloodshed at Wounded Knee.
James A. Hanson, director of the Nebraska State Historical Society, notes in is foreword the importance of the photographs as primary historical sources. Richard E. Jensen and R. Eli Paul are research specialists at the society who have written for various journals. John E. Carter is curator of photographs there. His book, Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1985.
210 pp ~ illustrated — ©2011