Published Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Indian and the gun

A recent letter mused that if the Sioux had guns, the Wounded Knee massacre wouldn’t have happened.

This is an interesting assertion, considering about a hundred or so warriors, of roughly 300 total Indians, were armed. Accounts vary somewhat, but it is agreed the massacre started when an Indian’s gun went off — whether accidentally or intentionally we will never know.

So many died at Wounded Knee because the warriors only made up a fraction of the Indians -- most were women, children and elderly. The problem was the U.S. cavalry also had guns, more of them and of a technologically-superior variety.

Fifteen years beforehand, at Little Big Horn, the story was different. There were about 2,000 armed warriors, and they literally annihilated Custer’s troops. However, this did not ensure freedom for the Sioux and their allies. It did ensure, however, that more Army men with more guns would show up, overrun their land and subjugate their people.

Indians weren’t considered citizens back then, and as such enjoyed no legal or civil rights in the U.S., despite being here first. Any act of violence by red against white was revisited upon the Indian a thousand-fold with inhuman savagery. You see, the fate of the Indians wasn’t so much to do with a lack of guns. It had more to do with armed men lacking humanity.

Buck Alford, Newnan

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