Summary and Analysis Chapter 24 – The Butchering at Wounded Knee


The whites were worried that the presence of Big Foot would catalyze an Indian attack. It was the cavalry’s intention to disarm the Indians at Wounded Knee and to ship the more troublesome Indians to Omaha by train. The disarmament proceeded peacefully among the older Indian men, but several young men, including Yellow Bird, refused to hand over their guns and began firing. The cavalry, under Colonel James Forsyth, was well prepared to use whatever force was needed and returned fire, but within five minutes, the Indians broke through cavalry lines. As the battle intensified, and Indian warriors followed women and children seeking shelter in a ravine, the cavalry turned its Hotchkiss guns (precursors of mounted machine guns) on the Indians with deadly effectiveness. Yellow Bird, sniping from a tent, was killed when soldiers set the tent on fire. A total of 153 Indians died in this battle, including Big Foot.