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When I arrived at the place where the fight had occurred between the Indians and the soldiers, all the bodies had been removed. Here and there lay the body of a horse. The tipi poles were broken and lay scattered about in heaps. Cooking utensils were strewed around in confusion; old wagons were overturned, with the tongues broken off. Everything was confusion. It was early in the morning when I reached this place, and the silence was oppressive and terrible. [...] There were many little pools of water here and there, some with clear water and others red with the blood of my people ... The place of death was forsaken and forbidding. I stood there in silence for several minutes, in reverence for the dead, and then turned and rode toward the agency. ‒Luther Standing Bear
Since the massacre, Lakotas have sought to commemorate their relatives who were senselessly slaughtered at Wounded Knee. Initially, people placed a marker where each person died. Later, a monument funded mostly by a survivor of the massacre, Joseph Horn Cloud, was erected at the site. Soon afterwards, the Wounded Knee land was allotted to tribal citizens and almost immediately thereafter some of it was converted to fee status and alienated from tribal control. A national park has been proposed. Maybe now, over a century afterwards, Lakota tribes will protect the land and appropriately and respectfully commemorate their citizens who were killed at Wounded Knee.
May 28-30, 1903. A survivor of the massacre, Joseph Horn Cloud, dedicates a granite monument alongside the mass grave. He had designed it and funded the majority of its $350 cost. Over 5,000 Lakotas attended the three-day commemoration and dedication ceremony.
December 21, 1965. The “Wounded Knee Battlefield” is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The site is added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places less than a year later.
February 27, 1973. Citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Members of the American Indian Movement occupy Wounded Knee. Seventy-one days later the occupation ended.
December 15, 1986. The first annual Si Tanka Wokiksuye, or Big Foot Memorial Ride sets out from Standing Rock Reservation on its way to Wounded Knee, commemorating the journey that Big Foot and his people undertook in 1890.
September 25, 1990. Representatives of the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Wounded Knee Survivors’ associations appear before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs to advocate for legislation establishing a memorial and historic site at Wounded Knee.
October 25, 1990. Senate Concurrent Resolution 153, which, “on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890 … expresses the deep regret of the Congress on behalf of the United States to the descendants of the victims, survivors, and their respective tribal communities,” is agreed to in the U.S. House of Representatives (it had been passed in the Senate six days earlier). It further conveys “the support of the Congress for the establishment of a suitable Memorial to those slain at Wounded Knee.” The resolution was sponsored by Senator Inouye of Hawaii, and co-sponsored by 18 other senators, including senators Daschle and Pressler of South Dakota.
December 29, 1990. The Big Foot Memorial Ride ends with a wiping of tears ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre.
July 11, 1991. Zintkala Nuni (Lost Bird) is reinterred next to the mass grave at Wounded Knee. Lost Bird was born just months before the massacre which left her an orphan. She died in California during the influenza epidemic of 1918 and was initially buried there.
August 12 1992. The Chief Big Foot National Memorial Park and Wounded Knee National Memorial Establishment Act of 1992 is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Johnson, and in the U.S. Senate by Senator Daschle, both of South Dakota. If passed into law, the act would have established the “Big Foot National Memorial Park in South Dakota” and required the Secretary of the Interior to construct “a suitable and appropriate memorial dedicated to the Indian victims of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre.” It furthermore authorized feasibility studies to establish a national historic trail “marking the route taken by Chief Big Foot and his band,” visitor centers on I-90 at Cactus Flats and in Cheyenne River Reservation, and a scenic two-lane highway called the “Crazy Horse Memorial Highway.” The Secretary of the Interior would be authorized to acquire lands for the Memorial Park and Memorial by “accepting leasehold interests in tribal trust lands” and through the “purchase, donation, or condemnation of all surface and subsurface rights to any tract of fee patented land which the Director of the National Park Service deems necessary to include in the Park.” The bill was referred to committee examination and never made it to a floor vote. Two similar bills were introduced in 1993 and 1995, both failing to advance out of committee.