The consensus among them seems to be that, whatever the catalyst, it was accidental; a gun that went off somewhere in the assembled ranks provided the spark for the subsequent mayhem. Dewy Beard describes how a deaf Indian named Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle; he was having difficulty understanding why the Miniconjous were being asked to give up their weapons in the first place. It was winter. Food was scarce. Each warrior needed a weapon to help feed his family. A few Indians close to Black Coyote agreed that they would take it upon themselves to explain to the deaf man through sign language why the soldiers wanted his weapon. The Indians were confident that once they explained the situation, Black Coyote would hand over the rifle. But before they could try, several soldiers came up behind the deaf man and tried to wrest the gun away. There was a struggle. Black Coyote refused to yield. "Look out! Look out!" cried a soldier, who stepped back and leveled his gun. The rifle, held rigidly by Black Coyote in an upright position with the barrel pointed harmlessly in the air, accidentally discharged. A single shot splintered the gloomy air. The sound was like a clarion. The strain of the morning hours suddenly dissoled in a paroxysm of violence. Several Indians threw off their blankets and brought their weapons into play. The eruption of gunfire on both sides in some instances was simultaneous. With no audible order from their officers, soldiers of Troops K and B started blasting.The massacre resulted in the death of "at least 150 Indian men, women and children, Spotted Elk being among one of the killed, as well as 25 officers dead and 40 wounded." Although accounts of that event differed.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Here's an interesting but sobering history about the massacre at Wounded Knee where a deaf Indian possibly played a role in a key event that may have helped accidentally trigger a massacre resulting in the death of at least150 Indians with 50 of them wounded. Based on various accounts it appears that a lack of communication and understanding by a deaf Miniconjou Indian warrior named Black Coyote who may not have gotten the message on a deal requiring Indians to give up their arms.