History is about so much more than memorizing facts. It is about the story. And, told in the right way, it is the greatest one ever written: Good and evil, triumph and tragedy, despicable acts of barbarism and courageous acts of heroism. Glenn’s latest book,Miracles and Massacres, is history as you've never heard it told. It's incredible events that you never knew existed. And it's stories so important and relevant to today that you won't have to ask: Why didn't they teach me this?
If you traveled back to 1891 to read the official government accounts about what happened at Wounded Knee, you’d probably conclude that many of the unarmed, dead Indians had gone crazy in a religious fervor and somehow shot each other.
Quoted in the Sacramento Record Union, Secretary of War Redfield Proctor said that, as these few hundred Native Americans were being searched for weapons, “...they were carried away by the harangue of the 'ghost-dancer,' and wheeling about, the Indians opened fire. Nothing illustrates the madness of the outbreak more forcibly than the fact that their first fire was so directed that every shot that did not hit a soldier must have gone through their own village.”
With a straight face, the Secretary went on: “Many of them, men and women, got on their ponies, and it is impossible to tell a buck from a squaw at a little distance. The Indians fired from among their women and children in their retreat.”
On the conduct of the officers and men of the Seventh Cavalry, the Secretary had nothing but praise: “Their behavior was characterized by skill, coolness, discretion, and forbearance, and reflects the highest possible credit upon the regiment.”
If you detected a whiff of propaganda from the official government report, you might shift your search for the truth to the popular newspapers of the time. But you'd find many of their accounts to be oddly similar to the official story: “After a fierce and heroic engagement, the Seventh Cavalry prevailed and won this last great battle of the Indian Wars.”
It almost seems as though the media and the government were working together to craft a story. Hmmmmmmm.
Now, 122 years later, we know what really happened: as many as 300 unarmed men, women and children were slaughtered at the one-sided Battle of Wounded Knee. Then they were buried in a mass grave, right along with the truth.
To complete the cover-up, the government awarded 20 Medals of Honor to soldiers who participated in the massacre. I guess even in the 19th century our leaders understood an eternal truth about scandals: the cover-up may be worse than the crime … but only if you get caught.