That the story is retold so often is a testament to its lasting power over our imaginations, the lessons learned something never to be forgotten. It is, in essence, a wound that must be addressed and remembered so it won’t fester. The 25th Annual Chief Big Foot Memorial Ride, which commemorates Chief Big Foot’s band of Minneconjou Lakota and their flight from Standing Rock Reservation to Wounded Knee on December 29th, 1890, is remembrance in motion, a 191-mile journey through the badlands in the middle of winter in an effort to honor the past, and those who have walked on.
As the Wounded Knee Museum’s blog stated, the beginning ceremonies were held in McLaughlin, South Dakota, at the Standing Rock Reservation on December 14th. The riders then began their journey to Chief Sitting Bull’s camp on December 15th, the place where he was assassinated on that day in 1890. There, the riders offered prayers and remembrance as they continued their journey to Wounded Knee Creek, which ended this morning, December 29th, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where hundreds of Lakota were massacred by the 7th Cavalry.
As the Great Plains Examiner explains, the 191-mile horseback ride to Wounded Knee was first retraced by the Big Foot Memorial Riders in 1986. In 1990, a ceremony was performed at the site of the massacre and the group was renamed the Future Generation Riders. This year’s journey marks the 25th consecutive ride to Wounded Knee.
The journey is both spiritual and educational, a time for the riders to reflect on what happened here, and a time for the youth on the journey to gain a better appreciation of the history of their people.
Duane Kuntz, who spoke to the Great Plains Examiner about this journey he has taken before with his daughters, Melanie and Jamie, explained it best: “It’s about never forgetting what happened, and it’s also about healing,” he said. “It was a terrible thing and they were hunted down, but the Lakota are still here.”