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Monday, March 25, 2013

Southern Death Cult, Trager and a tragedy

On December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek, in the Lakota (Sioux) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA the last act of the American Indian Wars took part. 
On the day before, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment (the one that was defeated by indians on the famous Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876) commanded by Major S. M. Whitside intercepted a bunch of Sioux camped
in Wounded Knee Creek.
The Cavalry Regiment surrounded the encampment supported by four heavy machine guns.
On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to supposedly disarm the Lakota. On pretext of denial of surrender by an elder indian, the 7th Cavalry opened fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. 
By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five troopers also died It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire...
It was officially named a battle when it was obviously a massacre...

This is the story that lies behind the-at first weird-photo that Southern Death Cult used on the back cover of their firat 7"single Fatman/Moya in 1982 on Situation Two records (SIT19). Mind you that the same 12" that contained one more song had a completely different sleeve.
To complete the story, George Trager was the first photographer on the scene after the massacre. He took a number of images on January 3, 1891, as U.S. troops began collecting and burying bodies left on the field. This iconic image was entitled "Chief Big Foot Killed in the Battle at/ Wounded Knee/ with his Full Band by the/ 7th Cav. Dec. 28th, 1890/ Copyrighted Jun 1st 1891/ N.W. Photo Co., Chadron/ Neb."

Another still from this event displays, the also frozen corpses,  of medecine-man Yellow Bird and -possibly- family. Remember that at he time photos like these served as means of anti -indian propaganda so note how the odd posture of the frozen corpses betrays the fact that they were turned over to cover the fact that many of them were shot at the back...

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