Traditionally, people enjoyed freedom and valued land as their most important natural resource. They would do anything to protect their freedom and retain their ancestral land. In connection to this, the Native Americans who were Indians occupied the land of Lakota but the whites wanted to seize their land and exercise control over them. Pesantubbee in her writings “From Vision to Violence” reveals how the inhabitants of Lakota experienced brutal killings at the hands of white soldiers.
In 1890, the United States army claimed that they had entered the land of the Lakota to induce knowledge and protection to the inhabitants. However, a prophet by the name of Wovoka had foreseen in a vision that the world would perish but arise purely afterward. This vision gave birth to the “Ghost Dance,” which was viewed by the whites as an unchristian movement that was preparing to attack. The white soldiers’ aim was to wipe out the “ghost dance movement,” which had become popular among the Native Americans. On their side, Lakota residents identified the “ghost dance” as a holy dance that incorporated prayers and meditation. Cultural differences and social beliefs can create a misunderstanding resulting in a war. However, Pesantubbee believes that the war started due to poor strategies and misunderstanding. In her view, the United States relied much on rumors that made them believe “the ghost dance” was a movement whereas it was a cultural belief among the Indians. In addition, the army deployed was fresh from training and lacked the relevant experience to tackle such a situation. The war led to the death of innocent and unarmed civilians who were practicing religious rituals but were taken to be a threat. Pesantubbee concludes by saying that the government could have employed mediation and it would have prevented the Wounded Knee massacre.
Pesantubbee, Michelene. “From Vision to Violence: The Wounded Knee Massacre.” In Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.