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If you think the largest U.S. mass shootings happened
in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, October 1, 2017, and
Orlando, Florida on Sunday, June 12, 2016, think again.


Burying the dead at Wounded Knee.

Lest we forget!

The largest United States mass shooting happened at
Wounded Knee, South Dakota on Monday, December 29, 1890.

If we mean murder perpetrated by guns, the worst “mass shooting” in American history was the “Wounded Knee Massacre” in South Dakota, when 150-300 Native Americans were gunned down by the U.S. Army. See Historical Massacres.

On December 29th, 1890, a regiment of 500 plus American troops surrounded a group of Lakota on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and ordered them to surrender their weapons.

Lakota tipi camp near Pine Ridge, S.D. ca. 1890.

This didn’t actually happen during a war - at this point, the Native American tribes of Lakota were living on a reservation and the decision to disarm them came from fear of the popular Ghost Dance movement.

At the heart of Ghost Dancing was a belief that a Native American Messiah would eventually rise up and return their lands to them, while the ghosts of Native ancestors would return to Earth and White men would disappear. Still, this was ultimately a dance and did not have a violent component.

Ghost Dance Circle, Oklahoma Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation.
Painting by Mary I. Wright, 1893.

Some Indian agents were alarmed that the dance would result in a rebellion against the U.S. government and led the Army into a decision that the Lakotas needed to be disarmed.

What transpired is somewhat hazy, but it’s often mentioned that a man by the name of Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle as he was deaf and didn’t understand what was expected of him. He was seized by soldiers, his rifle was discharged in the struggle, and indiscriminate gunfire ensued.

Miniconjou Lakota chief Spotted Elk (aka Bigfoot) lies
dead in the snow after the massacre at Wounded Knee.

As the army regiment had a battery of four Hotchkiss mountain guns pointed at the Lakotas and superior manpower, while shooting at close range, the situation very quickly turned into a massacre.

Scores of men, and escaping women and children were gunned down within minutes. The figures vary, but respected historians count close to 300 Lakotas murdered, while it is believed many of the 25 soldiers who were killed died from friendly fire due to the general mayhem.

Frozen body of a Lakota medicine man. Wounded Knee Creek,
Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., January, 1891. -- Source.

U.S. military personnel and Lakota scouts pose by their
Hotchkiss gun on Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D. 1891.

1876 Gatling gun was used by the U.S. 7th Cavalry during the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Courtesy Wikipedia.org.

See Related Article.

Contact Rachel Maddow with news stories.



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