How are Northern Indians treated in the US

Indians: The last fight on the Wounded Knee

You never stood a chance. Nevertheless, the Indians fought doggedly against the white intruders. The name of their most famous chief is still unforgettable: Sitting Bull. And the place of their last defeat as well: Wounded Knee

In the mid-19th century, white settlers poured in long treks from the coasts into the interior of the United States. Under military protection, they found forts, villages and small towns. The government in Washington is even boosting wild land grabbing. It promises to give 65 hectares of land to anyone who has lived in one place for five years! The white conquerors don't care that the land actually belongs to the Indians, the natives of North America.

The Indian "Sioux Wars" lasted for 30 years: when, around 1860, railroad tracks were laid across the Great Plains, a dry, 500-kilometer-wide grass plain in the north of the USA, the Indians ran out of patience. Santee-Dakota people raided a trading post in North Dakota. They kill three men, a woman and a child. The so-called "Sioux Wars" have begun. They will last for 30 years - until the last defeat at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Sitting Bull teaches fear to whites

From the beginning, the Indians have little chance of defeating the whites. The military is well equipped, has sufficient provisions and carries the newfangled and terrible machine guns with them as weapons. Thousands of warriors, women and children die in the hail of bullets.

Only one Indian chief taught the settlers and soldiers fear for a long time: Sitting Bull. On June 25, 1876, he and his entourage succeeded in putting down Colonel George A. Custer's 500-man troop. But only after the officer tried to ambush the unsuspecting Indians.

Settlers and rags keep pouring into the country

The news of the victory of the Indian chief Sitting Bull, the "chief of all Sioux", spreads like wildfire. Once again the Indian peoples are taking courage. All too often they had run up against the soldiers, who were staring at guns, in vain. The whites seemed invincible. And their greed for the indigenous land insatiable. Gold prospectors, adventurers and soldiers of fortune had long since invaded the Indian territory on the "thieves' road". And even they were protected by the army.

After the defeat of Colonel Custer, troops tirelessly pursue the Sioux Indians through the Rocky Mountains. Many chiefs surrender; they can no longer feed their Indian peoples. Only Sitting Bull fled to Canada initially with 1200 supporters. Four years later, he returns with only 200 people.

Sitting Bill doesn't have to go to white prison. Because when he returns, in 1881, the Indians are no longer a threat to the conquerors. The once proud rulers of the Great Plains are impoverished, half starved, and devoted to their fate. The bison are almost wiped out, and railroad lines and a pipeline cut through the prairie. Sitting Bull also gives up his resistance. From then on he travels through America as a human attraction with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

It is fermenting in the Indian reservations

It was not until 1889 that the last chapter emerged in the desperate struggle for freedom of the natives of North America. The reason is provided by an Indian named Wovokawho appears as a ghost seer and predicts the imminent end of white rule for the peoples of North America. The good news spreads at lightning speed. It strengthens the courage of people who have already been locked up in small reserves, where they depend on the food deliveries from their conquerors.

Sitting Bull is arrested

James McLaughlin, the manager of the "Standing Rock" reservation in which Sitting Bull lives, also hears about the prophet, whom more and more Indian supporters are coming to. McLaughlin fears that the influential Sitting Bull could take advantage of the situation to instigate an uprising on the reservations.

So on December 15, 1890, he dispatched a 40-man police force that knocked on Sitting Bull's hut door at six in the morning. The unsuspecting old Indian is immediately taken under police control and taken outside.

Panic breaks out among the Indians

Outside, however, some of his followers have already gathered to prevent Sitting Bull from being evacuated. A shot is fired, a policeman is hit. Another immediately shoots Sitting Bull. Five minutes later, five police officers and seven Indians, including Sitting Bull's 14-year-old son, are dead in the snow. Terrified by the event, hundreds of Sioux Indians flee the North American reservation in the middle of winter, which the white government had assigned them.

Murder on the Wounded Knee

Chief Big Foot becomes one of their new leaders. A total of 350 Indians join him. On December 29, 1890, soldiers surrounded the refugees at the Wounded Knee, a grassy plain on the edge of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The men, women and children surrender immediately. But when a shot goes off from the weapon of a young warrior that does not injure anyone, the soldiers strike mercilessly.

With their machine guns they mow down over 300 people, many of them children. The dead are simply left lying there. A snowstorm freezes the corpses into icy memorials of the last unjust struggle between indigenous people and invaders. The soldiers who murdered the 300 defenseless people were later awarded medals.

North American Indians Today: At Home in Two Worlds

What is it like to be an Indian in the USA today? Vanessa Brown, supervisor at a Navajo youth club, describes it as follows: "It's like traveling on a river - but with two canoes at the same time. The Navajo stand with one leg in a canoe of their ancient traditions and the other in the modern world. And so that they don't capsize, they have to balance between the two! "

The young Indian woman Olivia lives on an American reservation, but she lives in a typical American house with a kitchen and bathroom. Nevertheless, many Navajo people also have a traditional hut with a clay roof, the so-called "Hogan". They hold their ceremonies in it.

In addition, two languages ​​are spoken in the two worlds of the Indians. Olivia talks to friends in English. But your grandparents only understand Navajo. Olivia has to learn the Indian language as a compulsory subject in school. As is Navajo history.

In addition to dances and tribal legends, the children learn how a Navajo greets strangers - by clarifying his family ties right away: "Hello! I belong to the Coyote Pass clan. My father is from the Bitter Water Clan. My mother's father is from Under-the-Protection-Clan, my father's father is a member of the Ufer-Clan. "

Neither tradition nor dance help the Navajo with their greatest problem. The tribe is very poor. The administration hardly collects any taxes. That is why the US government supports the Navajo with millions of dollars every year. Still, many people in the reserve are doing badly. Quite a few live without running water or electricity, and not even half have a telephone. Many are addicted to alcohol - despite the ban on drinking. And almost every second person has no job.

There is not much to do in the reserve. Olivia's family, like many others, raise sheep, goats and horses. Some lucky people find a job with one of the authorities or the government, others work in one of the coal-fired power plants. Olivia's aunt is one of the best weavers in the tribe and can earn her living as an artist.

An opportunity that the silversmiths also use. They sell their turquoise necklaces, bracelets and earrings over the internet. In order to improve living conditions, the Navajo parliament in the capital, Window Rock, has now specially changed a law: gambling - which is otherwise mostly forbidden in the USA - has recently been allowed.

Casinos are supposed to lure tourists into the reserve, who then spend their money on roulette, poker and at machines. The proceeds will then be used to build roads and lay water pipes. Tradition-conscious Navajo people will probably never enter the "gambling dens": The old tribal laws say that one should stay away from such things.

Tinker Indian jewelry

In a series of creative tips, we show you beautiful instructions on how to make your own Indian jewelry. For example, you can braid pretty leather bracelets or make real moccasins out of felt!

In further building instructions you can also look up how to tinker an Indian drum, make a dream catcher or build an Indian tipi!