Wounded Knee Occupation 50th Anniversary

As my colleague, Chase Iron Eyes, wrote to you earlier this
week, February is a month of significant anniversaries here in
Lakota Country. He told you about the 47th anniversary of the
arrest of American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Leonard
Peltier. Next comes a four-day celebration centered on the 50th
anniversary of our AIM occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973 — an
historic event that occurred a few years prior to Leonard’s
unjust arrest.

Here’s what happened: 50 years ago, the American Indian
Movement was called to action by the communities of the Oglala
Lakota territory on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota.
That call resulted in a 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded
Knee by AIM — and I was there, every step of the way. The
resulting conflict with government agents, well chronicled in
print and other media like the documentary “From Wounded Knee to
Standing Rock,” is the stuff of legend. The occupation wasn’t
without significant cost, but it also brought massive attention
to our struggles as Native people.


From my perspective, it’s critical that we use part of the event
to highlight the matriarchs who reached out to AIM in 1973.
Fortunately, the Warrior Women Project has archival interviews of
many of us, and we’ll take time during the four days to celebrate and
honor the Wounded Knee veterans who are still here. The full event
agenda also includes art and cultural celebrations, ceremonies, and a
myriad of learning opportunities about the people and history of this

We celebrate this moment in history with an eye toward our
future. It’s important that we AIM elders take this opportunity to
pass on our legacy to the younger generations. The standoff happened
on the Pine Ridge Reservation, right down the road from where I live
now at Cheyenne River. We must tell this story so it resonates with
the communities and families on tribal nations in South Dakota today.
As Chase mentioned, our Lakota Law staff is helping to organize
numerous aspects of the event, including planned livestreams. We’ll
let you know more about when and how to view those as we get a little
closer, so please stay tuned!

Wopila tanka — my gratitude, always, for your solidarity.
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project