In late December 1890, a group of Ghost Dancers, led by Big Foot, set off for the Pine Ridge agency. By voluntarily settling near the agency, Big Foot’s Sioux Indian followers hoped to avoid an encounter with the U.S. Army.
During their journey, the Lakota Sioux camped along Wounded Knee Creek. There they were confronted by troops from the Seventh Cavalry. Cold, tired, and starving, the Native Americans immediately surrendered to the soldiers. Even though the Native Americans posed no threat to them, the troops treated the Ghost Dancers roughly.
The next morning, while the soldiers were grabbing at the Indians’ weapons to disarm them, a shot went off. In a panic, the troops began shooting into the crowd, killing every Native American they could. They chased the survivors, firing at them as they fled for cover.
When the shooting ended, the shores of Wounded Knee Creek were covered with the bodies of some 300 Lakota Sioux. Most of the dead were women, children, and babies.