Before leaving Wounded Knee, here’s one more take on the 1890 story — from country singer Johnny Cash. He recorded this song during a visit to South Dakota shortly after the 1973 American Indian Movement siege at Pine Ridge. “Bigfoot,” whom Cash refers to, was another name for Sioux Chief Spotted Elk who led the Indians at Wounded Knee that day in 1890 and was one of the first killed in the encounter. I’ve included the full lyrics below. Enjoy.
WOUNDED KNEE Johnny Cash – 1974 Spoken: But the land was already claimed by a people when the cowboy came and when the soldiers came. The story of the American Indian is in a lot of ways a story of tragedy like that day at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Bigfoot was an Indian Chief of the Miniconjou band, a band of Miniconjou Sioux from South Dakota land. igfoot said to Custer, stay away from Crazy Horse, but Custer crossed into Sioux land, and he never came back across. Then Bigfoot led his people to a place called Wounded Knee, and they found themselves surrounded by the Seventh Cavalry.
Big Chief Bigfoot, rise up from your bed, Miniconjou babies cry for their mothers lyin’ dead.
Bigfoot was down with a fever when he reached Wounded Knee, and his people all were prisoners of the Seventh Cavalry. Two hundred women and children and another hundred men raised up a white flag of peace, but peace did not begin. An accidental gunshot, and Bigfoot was first to die, and over the noise of the rifles you could hear the babies cry.
Big Chief Bigfoot, it’ s good that you can’t see, revenge is being wrought by Custer’s Seventh Cavalry.
Then smoke hung over the canyon on that cold December day, all was death and dying around where Bigfoot lay. F arther on up the canyon some had tried to run and hide, but death showed no favourites, women, men and children died. One side called it a massacre, the other a victory, but the white flag is still waving today at Wounded Knee.
Big Chief Bigfoot, your Miniconjou band is more ‘n than remembered here in South Dakota land. Big Chief Bigfoot, your Miniconjou band is more ‘n than remembered here in South Dakota land.