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Friday, February 5, 2016

Take a look at the following website to get some science ideas:

Science activity to celebrate President Lincoln's birthday

Here's a science activity from my science site you can share with your class on 

President Lincoln's birthday:

President LincolnBorn February 12th. 1809

Clean up President Lincoln pennies for his birthday!

This is a fun experiment! You can clean old and dirty Lincoln pennies and explore some of the properties of

Pennies get dull over time because the copper in the pennies slowly reacts with air to form copper oxide. 
Pure copper metal is bright and shiny, but the oxide is dull and greenish. When you place the pennies in the 
salt and vinegar solution, the acetic acid from the vinegar dissolves the copper oxide, leaving behind shiny clean pennies.

You need
        .    Dirty Lincoln pennies
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (dilute acetic acid) and 1 teaspoon salt (Sodium chloride, NaCl)
  • 1 shallow plastic bowl
  • water and paper towels

This is what you do:

  1. Pour the salt and vinegar into the bowl and stir until the salt dissolves.
  2. Dip a penny halfway into the liquid and hold it there for 10-20 seconds. Remove the penny from the liquid. What do you see?
  3. Place the rest of the pennies into the liquid.
  4. What happens?
  5. After 5 minutes, take half of the pennies out of the liquid and place them on a paper towel to dry.
  6. Remove the rest of the pennies and rinse under the tap.
  7. Place these pennies on a second paper towel to dry.
  8. Wait an hour then take a look at the pennies you have placed on the paper towels. 
v  Rinsing the pennies with water stops the reaction between the salt/vinegar and the pennies.
v  They will slowly turn dull again over time. The salt/vinegar residue on the unrinsed pennies 
promotes a reaction between the copper and the oxygen in the air.
v  The resulting blue-green copper oxide is commonly called 'verdigris'.

You can also use an eraser (and rubbing the coin works really well), a blob of tomato ketchup, 
or coca cola instead of the salt and vinegar. Try them and compare what happens to the pennies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Teachers: capture those magic classroom moments


 Why don’t you  CAPTURE them!!
And save them – forever!

Hey, teachers, you can, and probably do, of course, use your smartphone as well as your camera to capture those special classroom teaching and learning moments……… videoing, photographing, recording the action.

If you enjoy catching those moments that make your teaching so rewarding and worthwhile, you might try this idea I came up with many years ago.

After a wonderful but windy afternoon nature walk around the woodland near school, my class sat around me on the classroom floor and we  began to talk about what they’d seen. Dianne said how much she enjoyed the walk in the long grass around the trees.
“Everything was beautiful, Mr. Paull…………….everything smelled dead good. Did you hear the wind, though? It was making a howling noise and it made the leaves on the trees shake.”

Then she added, wistfully, “Pity we can’t bring back the smells and the sounds of nature. How could we do that, Mr. Paull?”

That made me think. And think.

Mmmmmmmmm…………….Then, that evening,  I had an idea. An empty bottle isn’t really empty, of course. It holds air. So, if you half fill, say, a small plastic bottle with water and then turn the bottle upside down, the water rushes out, pushing the air in front of it. For a split second, there’s nothing in the bottle. As we know, nature abhors a vacuum, so the air rushes in and fills the bottle.

The air carries everything ……….doesn’t it?

The next time we went for a nature walk, I took a bottle half filled with water. When we reached the tall grass and trees, I turned the bottle upside down and let the water gush out. As soon as the last drop ran out of the bottle, air rushed in, filling the vacuum.

I immediately pushed in the cork.

“Look,” I said, “we have captured the sounds and the smells of nature………forever.”

Dianne was particularly excited when I stuck a label on the bottle:

June 8 th, 1966.
This bottle holds the smells and sounds
of the flowers and the trees around our school.

And that started something.

Every time things were really humming in the classroom, I would stand in the middle of the room holding a small dish and a bottle half filled with water. Then, with great ceremony, I held the bottle over the dish and emptied out the water. Within a second, I filled a small bottle with all of the energy, sound, wit and wisdom of my children, and screwed on the top. Quickly I labeled it, and displayed it on a shelf.

My students loved the process and would often tell me, “Hey, Mr. Paull, you just HAVE to capture what’s going on on my table!!”

I used them at parent conferences, showing parents the bottles, then describing that each one was filled with a magical classroom moment of excitement, interaction, and learning.

Why don’t you try it – go on, capture one of those special moments today in a bottle!!

IMG_0419.JPGHOW? It’s easy.

What do you need? Just a small bottle ...and plenty of imagination!!

What do you do? At a critical ‘Oooh, aaah’ classroom moment, take the top off a tiny bottle. Blow across the top. The fast-moving air sucks out the air inside the bottle. When you stop blowing, the air, and the atmosphere of excited learning, rushes in and fills up the space.

Write the date and place on a small label and stick it on the bottle.

Think about what you’ve done!

You have captured the time - and the magic classroom moment, the joy of your students……forever!  :)
                                                          John Paull

UNBOXED journal

Hey, I saw last evening that my memoir about Tiger was published by UNBOX, the journal for adult learning in schools..........take a look if/when you have a moment and a cuppa in your hand!!

Here's the web site:

Monday, February 1, 2016

'I'm a scientist' workshops........

Catchup with my BLOG time!

It's been ages since I blogged..............and a lot has happened, especially  since I joined SPELLBINDERS and since I was approached to run more I'm a scientist workshops for parents and children.

So, this catch-up post describes my last science class, held last week, Thursday, January 28th, two hours of working/interacting with 18 Homeschool families.

And, with all humility,  it went really well. The kids (most not yet 5!0 were so great to work alongside:

I began, as always, with a little story...............

....which seemed to catch their attention......

and ended it by showing them the spider exoskeleton I keep in a pocket museum.......

As I told my story, the parents had chance to glance through a piece I'd written for them I passed around at the beginning :

  ‘I’m a scientist’  workshop

Hey, parents, take a quick read through this at the
I’m a scientist’ workshop:

  • Give your young scientist your time, and
  • Start by ensuring the resources required for the science activities are at hand.
  • Help (but, careful, don’t be overbearing!) your young scientist actively engage in the fun but challenging science activities. Does s/he need help with the scissors? Using sticky tape? Measuring?
  • Appreciate that most young scientists have a need to ask questions about what they see – as talking, it seems, aids understanding.
  • Know that your science discussion with your young scientist will usually raise new and interesting problems, so that one inquiry leads to another.
  • Encourage him/her – when it’s appropriate – to act, think, talk, read, draw and, yes, write like a scientist.
  • Know that when your young scientist uses his/her own efforts to discover something, the flash of insight seems to give special satisfaction.

 And, why don’t you
CAPTURE a Young Scientist MOMENT – forever!

You can, and probably will, of course, use your smartphone to capture your young scientist’s special moments……… videoing, photographing, recording the action.

Or, you might try this!!

I came up with this idea many years ago.

After a wonderful but windy afternoon walk around the woodland near school, my children began to talk about what they’d seen. Dianne said how much she enjoyed the walk in the long grass around the trees. “Everything was beautiful, Mr. Paull…………….everything smelled dead good. Did you hear the wind, though? It was making a howling noise and it made the leaves on the trees shake.”

Then she added, wistfully, “Pity we can’t bring back the smells and the sounds of nature. How could we do that, Mr. Paull?”

That made me think. Mmmmmmmmm…………….Then I had an idea. If you half fill a plastic bottle with water and then turn the bottle upside down, the water rushes out. For a split second, there’s nothing in the bottle. Then the air rushes in and fills the bottle. The air carries everything ……….doesn’t it?

The next time we went for a nature walk, I took a bottle half filled with water. When we reached the tall grass and trees, I turned the bottle upside down and let the water gush out. As soon as the last drop ran out of the bottle, air rushed in, filling the vacuum. I immediately pushed in the cork.
“Look,” I said, “we have captured the sounds and the smells of nature………forever.”

Dianne was particularly excited when I stuck a label on the bottle:

June 8 th, 1966.
This bottle holds the smells and sounds
of the flowers and the trees around our school.

And that started something.

Every time things were really humming in the classroom, I filled a small bottle with all of the energy, sound, wit and wisdom of my children, labeled it, and displayed it on a shelf. My students loved the process and would often tell me, “Hey, Mr. Paull, you just HAVE to capture what’s going on on my table!!”

Why don’t you try it – go on, capture one of those special ‘I’m a scientist’ moments in a bottle!!

HOW? It’s easy. At a critical ‘Oooh, aaah’ moment, take the top off a tiny bottle. Blow across the top. The fast-moving air sucks out the air inside the bottle. When you stop blowing, the air, and the atmosphere of excited learning, rushes in.

Think about what you’ve done!

You have captured the time - and the I’m a scientist workshop moment, the joy of your young scientist……forever!

John Paull

I then began by showing the kids my tiny boomerang (what I call a flipperang), gave out some card, and, hey, we were off and away!

Two hours later, having made flipperangs, blimps, papercopters, strockets, and much more, we finished by holding a strocket flying competition.

I'm looking forward to my next session..................

Thursday, December 24, 2015


My favorite place in the whole wide world - Botallack Tin Mines, St. Just, Cornwall.

The most beautiful spot I know where the land meets the sea, where the salty air fills the lungs, where my grandfather once worked, digging for tin a mile under the sea.

These tin mines were opened in 1721, although tin mining in Cornwall had been started a thousand years BC. In fact, tin extraction of tin in South west Cornwall can be dated to the beginnings of the Bronze Age around 3000 BCE. Botallack Mines closed in the 1920s.

The following is taken from Wikipedia. 

'Tin was much sought after as addition to copper increases its hardness, lowers the melting temperature, and improves the casting process by producing a more fluid melt that cools to a denser, less spongy metal. This was an important innovation that allowed for the much more complex shapes cast in closed molds of the Bronze Age. This created the demand for rare tin metal and formed a trade network that linked the distant sources of tin to the markets of Bronze Age cultures.
Devon and Cornwall were important sources of tin for Europe and the Mediterranean throughout ancient times, and may have been the earliest sources of tin in Western Europe, but within the historical period they only dominated the European market from late Roman times in the 3rd century  with the exhaustion of many Spanish tin mines. Cornwall maintained its importance as a source of tin throughout medieval times and into the modern period.
Cassiterite (SnO2), the tin oxide form of tin, was most likely the original source of tin in ancient times.  Cassiterite often accumulates in alluvial channels as placer deposits due to the fact that it is harder, heavier, and more chemically resistant than the granite in which it typically forms. These deposits can be easily seen in river banks as cassiterite is usually black, purple or otherwise dark in color, a feature exploited by early Bronze Age prospectors. It is likely that the earliest deposits were alluvial in nature, and perhaps exploited by the same methods used for panning gold in placer deposits.

The importance of tin metal to the success of Bronze Age cultures and the scarcity of the resource offers a glimpse into that time period’s trade and cultural interactions, and has therefore been the focus of intense archaeological studies. 

Wheelpit at a medieval tin mine in Dartmoor, United Kingdom
Europe has very few sources of tin. It was therefore of extreme importance throughout ancient times to import it long distances from Cornwall. 
It has been claimed that tin was first mined in Europe around 2500 BCE in Erzgebirge, and knowledge of tin bronze and tin extraction techniques spread from there to Brittany and Cornwall around 2000 BC. However, the only Bronze Age object from Central Europe whose tin has been scientifically provenanced is the Nebra sky disk, and its tin (and gold, though not its copper), is shown by tin isotopes to have come from Cornwall.

 Available evidence thus points to Cornwall as the sole early source of tin in Central and Northern Europe.
Brittany - adjacent to Cornwall on the Celtic Sea - has significant sources of tin which show evidence of being extensively exploited after the Roman conquest of Gaul during the first century BCE and onwards . Brittany remained a significant source of tin throughout the medieval period.'

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Background to the Wounded Knee massacre..........

Yesterday I told a class of 5th graders about my experiences at the Wounded Knee Oglala Sioux Reservation in 1970...............the boys and girls have raised money to send to the school there.

Before I went to school to tell my story, I did some homework and found out the following details about the massacre that took place in 1895.

Take a look at the articles I came across on my computer:

Wounded Knee is part of Pine Ridge Native American reservation in South Dakota, lived in by Oglala Sioux. The name of Wounded Knee Creek (cankpe opi wakpala) has nothing to do with the massacre of chief Big Foot's band of Sioux that took place there in December 1890.

Like most native place-names the name refers to some long-ago (sometimes entirely mythical) incident that was commemorated in the name of the particular river, stream, mountain or valley. The Crows had a story about the mythical Thunderbird living on a particular mountain in the south-east part of their lands; they called this "Where the Thunderbird Sits Down Mountain".

The story of how Wounded Knee Creek got its name is lost in the mists of time, but it probably refers to a warrior being wounded there by an enemy tribe, perhaps even before contact with European explorers.

Chronology of Events eading up to the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre
[Note: This data is taken from The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty, Appendix E, ISBN 0-252-06669-3]

July 5,1825, Treaty with Sioune (now Cheyenne River) and Oglala Sioux Tribes: The United States agreed in article 2 to take the Sioux Indians under their protection.

April 29,1868, Fort Laramie Treaty: The parties agreed in article 1 that all war between them would forever cease and pledged their honor to keep the peace; that the United States would reimburse the Indians for wrongs and loss of property T," committed by persons acting under federal authority and that the Indians would extradite bad men on their reservation to the United States. In article 2, the parties agreed that the Sioux reservation would be held for their absolute and undisturbed use and occupation; in article 12, that no cession of the Sioux reservation would be valid without the signatures of three-fourths of the adult males interested in the reservation; in articles 11 and 16, that the Sioux had the right to hunt in the Bighorn Mountains and area north of the North Platte River.

February 28, 1877, Black Hills Act: In article 1 Congress confiscated the Black Hills portion of the 1868 Treaty Reservation (7.3 million acres) without the consent of three-fourths of the adult male Indians as required by the 1868 treaty. This was also in violation of the Fifth Amendment, since the Sioux Nation acquired vested title to the land under U.S. law. In article 5 Congress promised that, in consideration for the land and hunting rights confiscated, it would give the Sioux Indians all aid necessary for civilization and subsistence rations (or the equivalent thereof) for as long as necessary for their survival. In article 8, Congress agreed that the Indians would be subject to the laws of the United States, thereby extending the protections of the First Amendment to freely exercise their religion and of the Fifth Amendment rights to the protection of real and personal property. In the same article, Congress promised that each Sioux Indian would be protected in his rights of property, person, and life.

Fall, 1883: Last Sioux buffalo hunt took place.
1888: Indian-issue beef herds on the Sioux reservation were decimated by anthrax.
January, 1889: Wovoka, a Paiute Indian in Nevada, arose from the dead (recovered from scarlet fever) after a total eclipse of the sun. Some say he learned of the eclipse through an almanac and planned his resurrection to correspond with that event. Word of his resurrection spread throughout Indian country. His prophecy was that if Indians believed and sang and danced to certain ritual songs, the buffalo and deceased relatives would return and the non-Indians would be covered by a new layer of earth. This event is recorded in history by some who say that an Indian messiah and the Ghost Dance were born.

March 2,1889, Act of Congress: Congress agreed in article 28 that the act will not go into effect unless agreed to by three-fourths of the adult male population of Indians as required by the 1868 treaty but used fraud and coercion to acquire the signatures, calling Indian males to the agencies and not allowing them to return home until they signed and allowing underaged Indians and non-Indian males married to Indian women to sign in violation of the law. The president proclaimed the act although the required signatures were never obtained. The United States thus acquired an additional nine million acres of the 1868 treaty reservation by this method.

The 1889 act also divided the 1868 treaty reservation into six smaller reservations. Indians living on each reservation could not leave their reservations without a pass from the Indian agent.

Remainder of 1889: The United States agreed not to cut the subsistence rations obligated under article 5 of the 1877 Black Hills Act if the Indians agreed to the 1889 act but went back on their word and cut the rations by 50 percent as soon as they secured the purported signatures. This created famine and death on the Sioux reservations. There were also grasshopper plagues and a terrible drought.

Mid-summer, 1889: Spoonhunter, an Oglala married into and residing on the Wind River Reservation, sent a letter to his nephew Kicking Bear, living on the Cheyenne River Reservation, telling him about Wovoka and the Ghost Dance. Kicking Bear, an Oglala, was married to Woodpecker Woman, niece of Chief Big Foot.

Fall of 1889 and spring of 1890: A Sioux delegation consisting of Kicking Bear, Short Bull, and others traveled to Nevada to see Wovoka and returned to teach the Ghost Dance to the Sioux. The earth's rejuvenation was promised for the spring of 1891, with the coming of the green grass.

May 29,1890: Indian agents were not too concerned about the Ghost Dance until Charles L. Hyde, a citizen of Pierre, South Dakota, wrote a letter to the secretary of the interior stating that he had reliable information from a Pine Ridge Sioux at the Pierre Indian School that the Sioux were planning an outbreak.

Summer of 1890: The Ghost Dance caught on with the Sioux because of the extreme conditions they were living under. White people living south and west of the Sioux reservations became alarmed and believed an Indian uprising would occur. Black Elk invented the Ghost Shirt. Indians gathered at the Strong Hold, a natural fortification on the northern part of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

October 20,1890: Agent Royer of Pine Ridge Agency requested six to seven hundred troops at Pine Ridge to restore order.

November 13, 1890: President Harrison directed the secretary of war to assume military responsibility on the Sioux reservations to prevent an outbreak. Indian leaders were ordered arrested until the Ghost Dance passed.

November 20,1890: The Rapid City journal reported that Sioux were on the warpath. Yellow journalism everywhere added to the excitement.

November 22, 1890: Governor Mellette, the first governor of South Dakota, created the "Home Guard," a cowboy militia to guard homesteaders along the west edge of the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations. They were armed with hundreds of guns and a great deal of ammunition.

December, 1890: The South Dakota home guard engaged in two of their own massacres. The guard sent its best riders to the Pine Ridge Reservation to shoot into the Ghost Dancers at the Strong Hold. They led the Ghost Dancers into a trap and killed and scalped seventy-five of them. They also massacred several wagons full of Sioux on French Creek, who were visiting non-Indian friends at Buffalo Gap.

December 15,1890: Chief Sitting Bull was murdered by federal Indian police when they attempted to arrest him at his home on the Standing Rock Reservation. Agent McLaughlin supplied them with a barrel of whiskey to give them enough courage to make the arrest. Sitting Bull's followers fled to seek refuge with his halfbrother, Chief Big Foot.

December 28, 1890: Chief Big Foot, fearing arrest and the risk to his band, headed south to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Chief Red Cloud had already invited him to come to Pine Ridge and help make peace. Major Whiteside and his Seventh Cavalry intercepted Chief Big Foot and about 356 of his followers at Porcupine Butte and escorted them to Wounded Knee Creek. The campsite was already settled, with Mousseaux's store and several log houses located there. That evening Colonel Forsyth arrived and assumed command. The Indians were surrounded and harassed all night. A trader from Pine Ridge brought a barrel of whiskey and the officers and troopers got drunk celebrating Big Foot's capture.
That night some drunken troopers attempted to drag Big Foot out of his tent. Indians who could understand English heard talk of getting revenge for Custer's defeat. Some officers attempted to see if guns possessed by the Indians were taken from the Little Bighorn battle and if they were old enough to have been at the battle.

December 29,1890: Colonel Forsyth attempted to disarm Chief Big Foot's band. The women and children were separated from the men. The soldiers were very abusive. Big Foot was sick with pneumonia and flying a white flag of truce next to his tent. The Indians were almost completely disarmed and completely surrounded by the soldiers. When the soldiers attempted to take the rifle of a deaf mute, it discharged and the soldiers opened up on the Indians. 

About three hundred of Big Foot's band were killed. About thirty soldiers also died, many in their own crossfire. Some women and children were found as far as two miles away, gunned down by soldiers.

January 3,1891: A burial party picked up the bodies of the dead Indians, about 146, still left on the massacre site after a raging blizzard swept through the area. They dug a mass grave and buried the dead without ceremony. At least one Indian is said to have been buried alive.

Another article:

The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota.
The previous day, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside intercepted Spotted Elk's band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them 5 miles (8.0 km) westward to Wounded Knee Creek, where they made camp. The remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, led by Colonel James W. Forsyth, arrived and surrounded the encampment. The regiment was supported by a battery of four Hotchkiss mountain guns.
On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over the rifle escalated, and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry's opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow soldiers. The Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking soldiers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.
By the time it was over, more than 200 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five soldiers also died, and 39 were wounded (6 of the wounded later died). At least twenty soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians passed two resolutions condemning the awards and called on the U.S. government to rescind them. The site of the battlefield has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
In the years leading up to the conflict, the U.S. government had continued to seize Lakota lands. The once-large bison herds (an indigenous peoples'Great Plains staple) had been hunted to near-extinction by European settlers. Treaty promises to protect reservation lands from encroachment by settlers and gold miners were not implemented as agreed. As a result, there was unrest on the reservations. During this time, news spread among the reservations of a Paiute prophet named Wovoka, founder of the Ghost Dance religion. He had a vision that the Christian Messiah, Jesus Christ, had returned to Earth in the form of a Native American.
According to Wovoka, the Messiah would raise all the Native American believers above the earth. During this time, the white man would disappear from Native lands, the ancestors would lead them to good hunting grounds, the buffalo herds and all the other animals would return in abundance, and the ghosts of their ancestors would return to earth — hence the word "Ghost" in "Ghost Dance." They would then return to earth to live in peace. All this would be brought about by performance of the slow and solemn "Ghost Dance," performed as a shuffle in silence to a slow, single drumbeat, unlike the dance depicted in the drawing above intended to inflame eastern readers. Lakota ambassadors to Wovoka, Kicking Bear and Short Bull taught the Lakota that while performing the Ghost Dance, they would wear special Ghost Dance shirts as seen by Black Elk in a vision. Kicking Bear said the shirts had the power to repel bullets.[13]
American settlers were alarmed by the sight of the many Great Basin and Plains tribes performing the Ghost Dance, worried that it might be a prelude to armed attack. Among them was the US Indian Agent at the Standing Rock Agency where Chief Sitting Bull lived. US officials decided to take some of the chiefs into custody in order to quell what they called the "Messiah Craze". The military first hoped to have Buffalo Bill — a friend of Sitting Bull — aid in the plan to reduce the chance of violence. Standing Rock agent James McLaughlin overrode the military and sent the Indian police to arrest Sitting Bull.
On December 15, 1890, 40 Indian policemen arrived at Chief Sitting Bull's house to arrest him. Crowds gathered in protest, and the first shot was fired when Sitting Bull tried to pull away from his captors, killing the officer who had been holding him. Additional shots were fired, resulting in the deaths of Sitting Bull, eight of his supporters, and six policemen. After Sitting Bull's death, 200 members of his Hunkpapa band, fearful of reprisals, fled Standing Rock to join Chief Spotted Elk (later known as "Big Foot") and his Miniconjou band at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.
Spotted Elk and his band, along with 38 Hunkpapa, left the Cheyenne River Reservation on December 23 to journey to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to seek shelter with Red Cloud.
Former Pine Ridge Indian agent Valentine T. McGillycuddy was asked his opinion of the 'hostilities' surrounding the Ghost Dance movement by General Leonard Wright Colby commander of the Nebraska National Guard (portion of letter dated Jan. 15, 1891):
"As for the 'Ghost Dance' too much attention has been paid to it. It was only the symptom or surface indication of a deep rooted, long existing difficulty; as well treat the eruption of small pox as the disease and ignore the constitutional disease."
"As regards disarming the Sioux, however desirable it may appear, I consider it neither advisable, nor practicable. I fear it will result as the theoretical enforcement of prohibition in Kansas, Iowa and Dakota; you will succeed in disarming and keeping disarmed the friendly Indians because you can, and you will not succeed with the mob element because you cannot."
"If I were again to be an Indian Agent, and had my choice, I would take charge of 10,000 armed Sioux in preference to a like number of disarmed ones; and furthermore agree to handle that number, or the whole Sioux nation, without a white soldier. Respectfully, etc., V.T. McGillycuddy.

General Miles' Telegram
General Miles sent this telegram from Rapid City to General John Schofield in Washington, D.C., on December 19, 1890:
"The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations that the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing."
"They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures."
"The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life. These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses."

Fight and ensuing massacre[edit]

Spotted Elk lies dead after the Battle of Wounded Knee, 1890
After being called to the Pine Ridge Agency, Chief Spotted Elk of the Miniconjou Lakota nation and 350 of his followers were making the slow trip to the Agency on December 28, 1890, when they were met by a 7th Cavalry detachment under Major Samuel M. Whitside southwest of Porcupine Butte. John Shangreau, a scout and interpreter who was half Sioux, advised the troopers not to disarm the Indians immediately, as it would lead to violence. The troopers escorted the Indians about five miles westward (8 km) to Wounded Knee Creek where they told them to make camp. Later that evening, Col.James W. Forsyth and the rest of the 7th Cavalry arrived, bringing the number of troopers at Wounded Knee to 500. In contrast, there were 350 Indians: 230 men and 120 women and children. The troopers surrounded Spotted Elk's encampment and set up four rapid-fire Hotchkiss-designed M1875 Mountain Guns.
At daybreak on December 29, 1890, Col. Forsyth ordered the surrender of weapons and the immediate removal of the Indians from the "zone of military operations" to awaiting trains. A search of the camp confiscated 38 rifles, and more rifles were taken as the soldiers searched the Indians. None of the old men were found to be armed. A medicine man named Yellow Bird allegedly harangued the young men who were becoming agitated by the search, and the tension spread to the soldiers.
Specific details of what triggered the massacre are debated. According to some accounts, Yellow Bird began to perform the "Ghost Dance", telling the Lakota that their "ghost shirts" were bulletproof. As tension mounted, Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle; he was deaf and had not understood the order. Another Indian said: "Black Coyote is deaf." (Black Coyote did not speak English.) When the soldier persisted, he said, "Stop! He cannot hear your orders!" At that moment, two soldiers seized Black Coyote from behind, and (allegedly) in the struggle, his rifle discharged. At the same moment, Yellow Bird threw some dust into the air, and approximately five young Lakota men with concealed weapons threw aside their blankets and fired their rifles at Troop K of the 7th. After this initial exchange, the firing became indiscriminate.
Soldiers pose with three of the four Hotchkiss-designed M1875 Mountain Guns used at Wounded Knee. The caption on the photograph reads:"Famous Battery 'E' of the 1st Artillery. These brave men and the Hotchkiss guns that Big Foot's Indians thought were toys, Together with the fighting 7th what's left of Gen. Custer's boys, Sent 200 Indians to that Heaven which the ghost dancer enjoys. This checked the Indian noise, and Gen. Miles with staff Returned to Illinois."
According to commanding Gen. Nelson A. Miles, a "scuffle occurred between one warrior who had [a] rifle in his hand and two soldiers. The rifle was discharged and a battle occurred, not only the warriors but the sick Chief Spotted Elk, and a large number of women and children who tried to escape by running and scattering over the prairie were hunted down and killed."
At first all firing was at close range; half the Indian men were killed or wounded before they had a chance to get off any shots. Some of the Indians grabbed rifles from the piles of confiscated weapons and opened fire on the soldiers. With no cover, and with many of the Indians unarmed, this lasted a few minutes at most. While the Indian warriors and soldiers were shooting at close range, other soldiers used the Hotchkiss guns against the tipi camp full of women and children. It is believed that many of the soldiers were victims of friendly fire from their own Hotchkiss guns. The Indian women and children fled the camp, seeking shelter in a nearby ravine from the crossfire.The officers had lost all control of their men. Some of the soldiers fanned out and finished off the wounded. Others leaped onto their horses and pursued the Indians (men, women, and children), in some cases for miles across the prairies. In less than an hour, at least 150 Lakota had been killed and 50 wounded. Historian Dee Brown, in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, mentions an estimate of 300 of the original 350 having been killed or wounded and that the soldiers loaded 51 survivors (4 men and 47 women and children) onto wagons and took them to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Army casualties numbered 25 dead and 39 wounded.


The Wounded Knee Incident began on February 27, 1973, when approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of theAmerican Indian Movement (AIM) seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The protest followed the failure of an effort of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protesters attacked the United States government's failure to fulfill treaties with Indian people and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations.
Oglala and AIM activists controlled the town for 71 days while the United States Marshals Service, FBI agents, and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area. The activists chose the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre for its symbolic value. Both sides were armed, and shooting was frequent. A Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota were killed by shootings in April 1973. Ray Robinson, a civil rights activist who joined the protesters, disappeared during the events and is believed to have been murdered. Due to damage to the houses, the small community was not reoccupied until the 1990s.
The occupation attracted wide media coverage, especially after the press accompanied the two U.S. Senators from South Dakota to Wounded Knee. The events electrified American Indians, who were inspired by the sight of their people standing in defiance of the government which had so often failed them. Many Indian supporters traveled to Wounded Knee to join the protest. At the time there was widespread public sympathy for the goals of the occupation, as Americans were becoming more aware of longstanding issues of injustice related to American Indians. Afterward AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means were indicted on charges related to the events, but their 1974 case was dismissed by the federal court for prosecutorial misconduct, a decision upheld on appeal.
Wilson stayed in office and in 1974 was re-elected amid charges of intimidation, voter fraud, and other abuses. The rate of violence climbed on the reservation as conflict opened between political factions in the following three years; residents accused Wilson's private militia, Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs), for much of it. More than 60 opponents of the tribal government died violently during those years, including Pedro Bissonette, director of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization.


On February 27, 1973, AIM leaders Russell Means (Oglala Sioux) and Carter Camp (Ponca), together with 200 activists and Oglala Lakota (Oglala Sioux) of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who opposed Oglala tribal chairman Richard Wilson, occupied the town of Wounded Knee in protest against Wilson's administration, as well as against the federal government's persistent failures to honor its treaties with Native American nations. The U.S. government law enforcement, including FBI agents, surrounded Wounded Knee the same day with armed reinforcements. They gradually gained more arms.

Disputed facts

According to former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk, "on February 25, 1973 the U.S. Department of Justice sent out 50 U.S. Marshals to the Pine Ridge Reservation to be available in the case of a civil disturbance". This followed the failed impeachment attempt and meetings of opponents of Wilson.[4] AIM says that its organization went to Wounded Knee for an open meeting and "within hours police had set up roadblocks, cordoned off the area and began arresting people leaving town...the people prepared to defend themselves against the government’s aggressions". By the morning of February 28, both sides began to be entrenched.


For years, internal tribal tensions had been growing over the difficult conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which has been one of the poorest areas in the USA since it was set up. Many of the tribe believed that Wilson, elected tribal chairman in 1972, had rapidly become autocratic and corrupt, controlling too much of the employment and other limited opportunities on the reservation. They believed that Wilson favored his family and friends in patronage awards of the limited number of jobs and benefits. Some criticism addressed the mixed-race ancestry of Wilson and his favorites, and suggested they worked too closely with BIA officials who still had a hand in reservation affairs. Some full-blood Oglala believed they were not getting fair opportunities.
"Traditionals" had their own leaders and influence in a parallel stream to the elected government recognized by the United States. The traditionals tended to be Oglala who held onto their language and customs, and did not participate in federal programs administered by the tribal government.
In his 2007 book on twentieth-century political history of the Pine Ridge Reservation, historian Akim Reinhardt notes the decades-long ethnic and cultural differences among residents at the reservation. He attributes the Wounded Knee incident more to the rising of such internal tensions than to the arrival of AIM, who had been invited to the reservation by OSCRO. He also believes that the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 did not do enough to reduce U.S. federal government intervention into Sioux and other tribal affairs; he describes the elected tribal governments since the 1930s as a system of "indirect colonialism".Oglala Sioux opposition to such elected governments was longstanding on the reservation; at the same time, the limited two-year tenure of the president's position made it difficult for leaders to achieve much. Officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, administrators and police, still had much influence at Pine Ridge and other American Indian reservations, which many tribal members opposed.
Specifically, opponents of Wilson protested his sale of grazing rights on tribal lands to local (white) ranchers at too low a rate, reducing income to the tribe as a whole, whose members held the land communally. They also complained of his land-use decision to lease nearly one-eighth of the reservation's mineral-rich lands to private companies. Some full-blood Lakota complained of having been marginalized since the start of the reservation system. Most did not bother to participate in tribal elections, which led to tensions on all sides. There had been increasing violence on the reservation, which many attributed to Wilson's private militia, Guardians of the Oglala Nation (informally called the GOONs), attacking political opponents to suppress opposition.
Another concern was the failure of the justice systems in border towns to prosecute white attacks against Lakota men who went to the towns for their numerous saloons and bars. Alcohol was prohibited on the reservation. Local police seldom prosecuted crimes against the Lakota, or charged assailants at lesser levels. Recent murders in border towns heightened concerns on the reservation. An example was the early 1973 murder of 20-year-old Wesley Bad Heart Bull in a bar in Buffalo Gap, which the tribe believed was due to his race. AIM led supporters to a meeting at the Custer courthouse, where they expected to discuss civil rights issues and wanted charges against the suspect raised to murder from second-degree manslaughter. They were met by riot police, who allowed only five people to enter the courthouse, despite blizzard conditions outside. Reinhardt notes that the confrontation became violent, during which protesters burned down the chamber of commerce building, damaged the courthouse and destroyed two police cars, and vandalized other buildings.
Three weeks before Wounded Knee, the tribal council had charged Wilson with several items for an impeachment hearing. However, Wilson was able to avoid a trial, as the prosecution was not ready to proceed immediately, the presiding official would not take new charges, and the council voted to close the hearings. Charges had been brought by a coalition of local Oglala, grouped loosely around the "traditionals", the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO), and tribal members of the American Indian Movement. Wilson opponents were angered that he had evaded impeachment. U.S. Marshals offered him and his family protection at a time of heightened tensions and protected the BIA headquarters at the reservation. Wilson added more fortification to the facility.


The traditional chiefs and AIM leaders met with the community to discuss how to deal with the deteriorating situation on the reservation. Women elders such as OSCRO founder Ellen Moves Camp, Gladys Bissonette, and Agnes Lamont urged the men to take action.[6] They decided to make a stand at the hamlet of Wounded Knee, the renowned site of the last large-scalemassacre of the American Indian Wars. They occupied the town and announced their demand for the removal of Wilson from office and for immediate revival of treaty talks with the U.S. government. Dennis Banks and Russell Means were prominent spokesmen during the occupation; they often addressed the press, knowing they were making their cause known directly to the American public. The brothers Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt were also AIM leaders at the time, who generally operated in Minneapolis.[7]
The federal government established roadblocks around the community for 15 miles in every direction. In some areas, Wilson stationed his GOONs outside the federal boundary and required even federal officials to stop for passage.
About ten days into the occupation, the federal government lifted the roadblocks and forced Wilson's people away as well. When the cordon was briefly lifted, many new supporters and activists joined the Oglala Lakota at Wounded Knee. Publicity had made the site and action an inspiration to American Indians nationally. About this time, the leaders declared the territory of Wounded Knee to be the independent Oglala Nation and demanded negotiations with the U.S. Secretary of State.
A small delegation, including Frank Fools Crow, the senior elder, and his interpreter, flew to New York in an attempt to address and be recognized by the United Nations. While they received international coverage, they did not receive recognition as a sovereign nation by the UN. This was the beginning of indigenous appeals directly to the United Nations and an international audience. Over the next decades, the UN would increasingly recognize indigenous issues and pass policy in favor of indigenous rights but it would take until 2012 before the UN would look into the plight of U.S. Native Americans for first time.
John Sayer, a Wounded Knee chronicler, wrote that:
The equipment maintained by the military while in use during the siege included fifteen armored personnel carriers, clothing, rifles, grenade launchers, flares, and 133,000 rounds of ammunition, for a total cost, including the use of maintenance personnel from the National Guard of five states and pilot and planes for aerial photographs, of over half a million dollars.
On March 13, Harlington Wood Jr., the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), became the first government official to enter Wounded Knee without a military escort. Determined to resolve the deadlock without further bloodshed, he met with AIM leaders for days. While exhaustion made him too ill to conclude the negotiation, he is credited as the "icebreaker" between the government and AIM.
After 30 days, the government's tactics became harsher when Kent Frizell was appointed from DOJ to manage the government's response. He cut off electricity, water and food supplies to Wounded Knee, when it was still winter in South Dakota, and prohibited the entry of the media. AIM says that "the government tried starving out the [occupants]", and that its activists smuggled food and medical supplies in past roadblocks "set up by Dick Wilson and tacitly supported by the government". Keefer, the Deputy U.S. Marshal at the scene, said there were no persons between federal agents and the town, and that the federal marshals' firepower would have killed anyone in the open landscape. The Marshals Service decided to wait out the AIM followers in order to reduce casualties on both sides. Some activists organized an airlift of food supplies to Wounded Knee.
Both AIM and federal government documents show that the two sides traded fire through much of the three months. Early in the fighting an FBI agent was fatally wounded by fire from the town.The U.S. Marshal Lloyd Grimm was shot early in the conflict and suffered paralysis from the waist down. Among the many Indian supporters who joined the protest wereFrank Clearwater and his pregnant wife, who were Cherokee from North Carolina.He was hit in the head on April 17 while he slept, less than 24 hours after arrival, and he died on April 25.
When Lawrence "Buddy" Lamont, a local Oglala Lakota, was killed by a shot from a government sniper on April 26, he was buried on the site in a Sioux ceremony. After his death, tribal elders called an end to the occupation. Knowing the young man and his mother from the reservation, many Oglala were greatly sorrowed by his death. Both sides reached an agreement on May 5 to disarm. With the decision made, many Oglala Lakota began to leave Wounded Knee at night, walking out through the federal lines. Three days later, the siege ended and the town was evacuated after 71 days of occupation; the government took control of the town.
Ray Robinson, a black civil rights activist, went to South Dakota to join the Wounded Knee occupation. He was seen there by both a journalist and a white activist.[15] He disappeared during the siege and his body was never found. One AIM leader, Carter Camp, said years later that Robinson had walked away under his own power, seeking aid for a wounded leg. Other witnesses have recalled open conflict between Robinson and AIM activists.
His widow Cheryl Robinson believes he was murdered during the incident. In 2004, after the conviction of a man for the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, Robinson renewed her calls for an investigation into her husband's death. Paul DeMain, editor of News From Indian Country, has said that based on interviews, he believes "Robinson was killed because AIM thought he was an FBI spy".

Support for action

Public opinion polls revealed widespread sympathy for the Native Americans at Wounded Knee. They also received support from the Congressional Black Caucus as well as various actors, activists, and prominent public figures, including Marlon Brando, Johnny Cash, Angela Davis, Jane Fonda, William Kunstler, and Tom Wicker.
After DOJ prohibited the media from the site, press attention decreased. However, actor Marlon Brando, an AIM supporter, asked Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress, to speak at the 45th Academy Awards on his behalf, as he had been nominated for his performance in The Godfather. She appeared at the ceremony in traditional Apache clothing. When his name was announced as the winner, she said that he declined the award due to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry" in an improvised speech as she was told she could not give the original speech given to her by Brando and was warned that she would be physically taken off and arrested if she was on stage for more than a minute. Afterwards, she read his original words about Wounded Knee backstage to many of the press. This recaptured the attention of millions in the United States and world media. AIM supporters and participants Drew James thought Littlefeather's speech to be a major victory for their movement. Although Angela Davis was turned away by federal forces as an "undesirable person" when she attempted to enter Wounded Knee in March 1973, AIM participants believed that the attention garnered by such public figures forestalled U.S. military intervention.


Following the end of the 1973 stand-off, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had a higher rate of internal violence. Residents complained of physical attacks and intimidation by president Richard Wilson's followers, the so-called GOONS or Guardians of the Oglala Nation. The murder rate between March 1, 1973, and March 1, 1976, was 170 per 100,000. Detroit had a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 in 1974 and at the time was considered "the murder capital of the US". The national average was 9.7 per 100,000. More than 60 opponents of the tribal government died violently during this period, including Pedro Bissonette, executive director of OSCRO. AIM representatives said many were unsolved murders, but in 2002 the FBI issued a report disputing this.

1974 trial of Banks and Means

The U.S. District Court of South Dakota dismissed the charges against Banks and Means for the 1973 Wounded Knee incident due to its determination of prosecutorial misconduct. The government's appeal from the decision was dismissed.