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Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre Hardcover – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Historian Richardson (West from Appomattox) brings a fresh perspective to the massacre at Wounded Knee in her engaging study. The U.S. Army slaughter of nearly 300 surrendering Sioux men and women was not just an appalling act of racist brutality, argues the author, it was the outcome of roiling partisan politics. Desperate to maintain their political majority as well as business-friendly tariffs, Republican lawmakers swept into the West, gaining new congressional seats and distributing patronage jobs to supporters, including posts on the newly formed Sioux reservations. Stripped of land, livelihood, and dignity, many Sioux turned to a religious movement called the Ghost Dance—misinterpreted by Republican appointees as a sign of impending insurgency. Their panic was fanned by a feckless media and the Republican political machine hungry to see its vision—a West transformed into thriving farms humming with commerce—fulfilled. Richardson describes the collision of incompetence, political posturing, and military might with elegant prose and the right blend of outrage and humanity, subtly highlighting the parallels between the disastrous partisanship of the late 19th century and the politics of today. (June)
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The latest scholarly analysis of the causes leading to this tragic event takes a unique tack. Richardson attributes the fate of the Minneconjou Sioux massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, not only to growing tensions between the Indians and the burgeoning numbers of settlers, but also to “grandstanding” by President Benjamin Harrison, who was trying to attract western voters and thus secure South Dakota's U.S. senate seat for the Republican Party. To aid in this effort, he ordered a huge army presence in the state to protect settlers from an Indian “uprising,” despite the fact that his general saw no danger of an insurrection. Richardson's meticulously documented account includes extensive historical background of the treaties and events preceding that fateful winter, including the Compromise of 1820, the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and the Dawes Act of 1888, which drastically reduced Indian landholdings. Bitterly enough, the Republicans lost the senatorial race, and Harrison lost the 1892 election, falling into “an oblivion from which he never recovered.” --Deborah Donovan
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Historically accurate and informative. Recommend for those history buffs of the Lakota/Sioux. and the disgraceful actions of our military against these native people.