Lesson Plan: Examining Wounded Knee Lesson designer (s)

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Lesson designer (s): Michelle Colasurdo & Nicole Santelli School: Wheeler High School

Lesson Origin: (web site, modified from, original)

Modification of The Battle of the Little Bighorn Lesson Plan from Stanford History Education Group.

Georgia Performance Standard:

SSUSH12 The student will analyze important consequences of American industrial growth.

c. Describe the growth of the western population and its impact on Native Americans with reference to Sitting Bull and Wounded Knee.

Essential Question: (Learning Question)

Who was at fault in the massacre at Wounded Knee?

How does this conflict reinforce American ideology of Westward expansion?

Materials: (include at least one primary source)

Textbook excerpt

Newspaper Account of Wounded Knee (Document A)

Interview with Joseph Horn Cloud (Document B)

Common Core Historical Literacy Standards/Skills (LDC Module)

What Task? Identify who is to blame for the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

What Skills? Analyze and Argue, draw evidence

What Instruction?

Use the textbook answer the following questions:

  1. How are the American Indians portrayed in a negatively? How are they portrayed positively?

  2. How is the American government portrayed negatively? How are they portrayed positively?

Hand out Documents A and B and have students read documents and answer questions.

  1. Discussion: Based upon what you have read and learned today, who was responsible for the Massacre?

Key points to address:

• What are the similarities and differences between these accounts?

• Why do they differ?

• Which one do you find most trustworthy? Why?

• What other types of documents would you need to look at in order to continue figuring out who was responsible for the Massacre at Wounded Knee?

Answer questions for each document.

HW: Have students write a new textbook account of the Massacre at Wounded Knee that supports their claim as to who is at fault, drawing from information included in at least one of the primary documents.

What results? A better understanding of how history can be biased based on corroborative evidence and contextualization.

Technology use (include I-Respond file if used):

Audio video of interview with Dewey Beard on http://www.woundedkneemuseum.org/main_menu.html

Suggestions for differentiation/modification:

Guided reading with documents, provide graphic organizers and role paly different key characters involved in massacre.

Extensions (advanced students):

Have students listen to Audio video of interview with Dewey Beard on http://www.woundedkneemuseum.org/main_menu.html and answer interview questions derived from Joseph Horn Cloud interview.

Depth of Knowledge level: 1_____ 2______3.________4._______ (rationale)

Students must analyze and deduce biased information in an unbiased way.

Modeling/Guided Practice/Independent Practice elements:

Students participate in independent practice by answering questions on their own.

Elements of Teaching American History Grant activities incorporated into the lesson:

Sourcing- see student handout in lesson plan.

Contextualization- see student handout in lesson plan.

Corroboration- see student handout in lesson plan.

Close Reading- see student handout in lesson plan.

Textbook Explanation
"Wounded Knee. Frightened and angry after Sitting Bull's death, many Sioux joined the Ghost Dancers farther west. Some traveled with Big Foot, a Sioux leader who had initially supported the Ghost Dance but had gradually turned away from it. Government officials wanted to arrest Big Foot because they feared he might cause trouble. Hoping to avoid conflict with army troops, Big Foot decided to lead his group to the Pine Ridge Reservation. On December 28, 1890, army troops found Big Foot and some 350 members of his group. The Sioux made camp for the night along Wounded Knee Creek.
The next morning, Colonel James Forsyth of the 7th Cavalry ordered the removal of Indian rifles. Reinforced by four Hotchkiss guns that fired exploding shells, some 500 mounted soldiers surrounded the camp. When the Sioux surrendered only a few guns, soldiers began to search the teepees. Tensions ran high. Nerves snapped, and the Sioux and U.S. soldiers began shooting. The Hotchkiss guns ripped into the camp. By day's end some 300 Sioux and about 30 U.S. soldiers had been killed. Some people declared that Custer and the 7th Cavalry had been "avenged," but the Massacre at Wounded Knee shocked many Americans. The incident marked the end of the bloody conflict between soldiers and American Indians on the Great Plains."
Source: Boyer's The American Nation (2001). p. 438

Use the textbook answer the following questions:

1.       How are the American Indians portrayed in a negatively?  How are they portrayed positively?

2.      How is the American government portrayed negatively?  How are they portrayed positively?
Document A – Excerpts of Newspaper articles from periodmap of battle area

Accounts of the conflict between Native Americans and United States soldiers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, vary. It is nonetheless known that the army killed hundreds of Sioux and, accidentally, many of their own men. These news dispatches reflect the prejudices many white Americans of the time felt toward the Sioux of Wounded Knee, who are referred to with such objectionable terms as “buck.” The dispatches blame the incident on the Sioux, but historians say it is unclear as to who fired the first shot. The article says almost nothing about the many innocent bystanders, women, and children who were killed that day.


Sitting Bull's Men Remember Their Leader. Troops Taken by Surprise and a Number Shot Down.

Los Angeles Times

December 30, 1890

Omaha (Neb.,) Dec. 29.—A Bee special from Pine Ridge says that a battle was fought last night between the hostiles and troops on Porcupine Creek. A number were killed on both sides. Capt. Wallace and other officers of lower rank of the Seventh Cavalry, are among the killed.
Chicago, Dec. 29.—The rumor received in this city this afternoon that a serious fight had occurred when the troops tried to disarm Big Foot's band, is confirmed by the receipt of the following telegram by Col. Corbin from Gen. Miles at a late hour tonight.

RAPID CITY (S. D.,) Dec. 29 - Col. Forsythe reports that while disarming Big Foot's band a fight occurred. Capt. Wallace and a few soldiers were killed. Lieut. Garlington and fifteen men were wounded. This again complicates the surrender of all the Indians, which would have taken place in a short time had this not occurred. Forsythe had two battalions and a Hotchkiss gun.

Quite a large number of young warriors have been away from the band, which was leaving the Bad Lands: also quite a number of Two Strike's band, going toward Forsythe. The troops are in close proximity. -(signed) MILES.

A special dispatch from the scene of the battle gives the following partial list of casualties:

Killed—Capt. Wallace, K troop; private Cook, B troop.

Wounded—Father Crafts, Catholic missionary, probably fatally; Privates Stone, Sullivan, Smith, Davis, Hazelwood, Toohey, Adams, B troop; Lieut. Garlington, Lieut. Kinzie, Interpreter Wells, Sergt. Lloyd, Sergt. Camell, Sergt. Dyer, Corp. Newell and Trumpeter Choedenson....

The correspondent expresses the belief that not one of Big Foot's band will be left alive tonight.

Lincoln (Neb.,) Dec. 29.—The State Journal has from its special correspondent the following story of the fight between the troops and Big Foot's Indians at the camp at Wounded Knee:

At 8 o'clock this morning the troops were massed about the Indian village, the Hotchkiss guns overlooking the camp, not fifty yards away. Col. Forsythe ordered all the Indians to come forward, away from the tents. They came and sat in a half-circle until counted. The dismounted troops were then thrown around them, Company K, Capt. Wallace, and Company B, Capt. Varnum.

The order was then given to twenty of the Indians to go and get their guns. They returned with only two guns. A detachment of troops at once began to search the villages, finding thirty-eight guns. As this task was about completed, the Indians, surrounded by Companies K and B, began to move. All of a sudden they threw their blankets to the ground, whipped up the rifles and began firing rapidly at the troops, not twenty feet away. The troops were at great disadvantage, fearing to shoot their own comrades. The Indian men, women and children then ran to the south, the battery firing rapidly as they ran. Soon the mounted troops were after them, shooting them down on every hand. The engagement lasted fully an hour and a half. To the south many took refuge in a ravine, from which it was difficult to dislodge them. I should estimate the killed and wounded, from what I saw on the field and vicinity, at fifty. Just now it is impossible to state the exact number. The soldiers are shooting them down wherever found.

The field was one of great confusion, horses running in every direction and the men, for a

few moments, frantic owing to the unfortunate way they were placed. Capt. Wallace was the only officer killed. In the first mad rush of the Indians, those of them who had not guns attacked the troopers with knives, clubs and tomahawks and poor Capt. Wallace was struck down with a blow from a hatchet on the head. Father Craft, a Catholic missionary, received a bullet wound which will probably result fatally. Lieut. Garlington of Arctic exploration fame, received a serious wound in the arm. A number of noncommissioned officers and privates were wounded, probably twenty-five or thirty in all. Several of these are likely to die. I cannot at this time give the names of all the wounded. As the dispatch is being written the troops are still pursuing the Indians in every direction.

The correspondent says that the Indians must have been mad to have attacked the number of soldiers who were gathered about them, there being only 120 bucks. The treacherous deed coming at the time it did was a surprise, and the correspondent doubts if any of the indians will be left alive to tell the tale when the soldiers get through their day's work. The members of the Seventh Cavalry have once more shown themselves heroes in deeds of daring. Single conflicts of great bravery were seen all over the field.

Source: Los Angeles Times, December 30, 1890.
Document B – Interview of Joseph Horn Cloud

Eli Seavey Ricker was born in Maine in 1843. Following his service in the Civil War with Company I, 102nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, he became a farmer, researcher/writer for a company that published county histories, lawyer, judge, politician, rancher, and newspaper editor.

Ricker was in his sixties in the early 1900s when he began research for a book he intended to call "The Final Conflict between the Red Men and the Palefaces." He spent years gathering sources and interviewing participants -- both Indian and white -- about conditions and battles on the Plains in the last half of the nineteenth century. He interviewed at least fifty Native Americans, and was one of the first historians to recognize that their viewpoints were as valid to the history of the Plains as those of whites. He recorded the interviews, along with comments, notes, and source extracts, in small note pads now known as the "Ricker Tablets."


Brothers White Lance, Joseph Horn Cloud, and Dewey Beard [left to right]. Joseph Horn Cloud was about sixteen years old when he witnessed the Wounded Knee massacre on December 29, 1890. His parents, two brothers, and a sister were among the fatalities. In 1906 he invited Ricker to his home to talk about the massacre.description: photograph of brothers

Portions, pages 65-67, of Ricker's interview with Joseph Horn Cloud, Wounded Knee survivor, from Tablet 12.description: page 65, tablet 12

103389 (page 65)
... Shakes Bird went round on the outside of the council singing ghost songs.

When the shooting began the women ran to the ravine. The shooting was in every direction. Soldiers shot into one another. Indians in the circle were Many of the Indians in the circle were killed. Many of them mingled with the soldiers behind them, picking up guns from dead soldiers and taking cartridge belts. They took guns they had turned over and the cartridge belts they had turned over with

103390 (page 66)
them. Many Indians broke into the ravine; some ran up the ravine and to favorable positions for defense.description: page 66, tablet 12

Beard (who is a brother of Joseph Horn Cloud, but is not called Horn Cloud, called Beard only); and William Horn Cloud, Daniel Horn Cloud, who is now called White Lance, & Sherman Horn Cloud, and is a brother of Joseph; and George Shoot the Bear and Long Bull both cousins of Joseph; and two old men, one of whom belonged to Big Foot's band and the other to Sitting Bull's band; and a woman called Helena Long

103391 (page 67)
Bull and a little son, these all took refuge in the pocket in the ravine, and here William Horn Cloud was killed, and here Beard killed four soldiers, one being stabbed with a knife (a sergeant) the others he shot. White Lance received three wounds in his right leg and one slight [wound] on top of his head; he was borne from here up the ravine by George Shoot the Bear and Peter Stand.
Some cannon were moved to the bank of the ravine & some were planted on Cemetery Hill.description: page 67, tablet 12

When the firing began there ...

Source: Nebraska State Historical Society: Official Nebraska Government Website


Document C – Audio Video of Dewey Beard
James Eugene Emery (Pankeska Hkisla – White Shell Boy), a member of the Sicangu Lakota, made over 300 recordings of prominent members of the Lakota people and cultural events. In 1953 he interviewed Dewey Beard in Rapid City, South Dakota, roughly a year before the death of this prominent survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

As Emory’s grandson, Steve Emery, noted, Jim Emery, though that recording the word of the elders was the most important consideration, it is only now, more than 50 years later, that we can understand the importance of hearing the i voice of a survivor of Wounded Knee.

Steve and Belva Hollow Horn Emery plan to release these recordings in the near future through their production company, Mato Tanka Productions
Listen to the recording of Dewey Beard and answer the following questions.

Massacre at Wounded Knee Guided Questions Name _______________
Document A – Excerpts of Newspaper articles from the period

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote these articles? What was their purpose? When was it written?

  1. Contextualization: According to this document, what was the cause of conflict between the Lakota American Indians and the U.S. Government?

  1. Contextualization: Why would the reporter from Rapid City write: “This again complicates the surrender of all the Indians, which would have taken place in a short time had this not occurred.”

  1. Close Reading: How does the reporter describe the Lakota Indians as the skirmish takes place?

  1. Corroboration: What are the similarities and differences between these articles and the textbook?

Joseph Horn Cloud Interview

  1. Sourcing: What type of document is this? When was it written? Why was it written?

  1. Contextualization: According to Joseph Horn Cloud, who initiated the conflict between the U.S. government and Native American tribes?

  1. Corroboration: What are two differences between Cloud’s account and the Newspaper articles?

  1. Corroboration: Which of the 2 documents – the Newspaper articles or the Joseph Horn Cloud interview – do you think is most trustworthy? Why?

HW: Have students write a new textbook account of the Massacre at Wounded Knee that supports their claim as to who is at fault, drawing from information included in at least one of the primary documents.

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