Friday, November 23, 2007

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Last night after the children went to bed, I finally decided to put in the HBO movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

I was very interested in watching this account of the events. I was disappointed almost immediately.

I guess I should not be surprised at the many historical inaccuracies.

I would not dare recommend this movie to anyone that wanted to know about the events surrounding Wounded Knee, or the massacre that took place on Dec 29, 1890. A brief chronology of events can be found here, and here

I would ask that you read Dee Browns book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. This should be required reading for Americans.

One of the most horrifying aspects of the massacre at Wounded Knee has to be the inflammation of events by the MSM at that time.

The term yellow journalism was coined in the 1890s to characterize this new trend in news reporting. Named for R. F. Outcault's popular comic strip, which featured a yellow-robed character named the "yellow kid," the term refers to the circulation war that arose between Hearst's New York Journal and Pulitzer's New York World. The competition began when Hearst, determined to lure readers from Pulitzer's paper, hired Outcault away from the World to draw for the Journal. Pulitzer responded by commissioning a new cartoonist to draw a second "yellow kid" comic. Soon, the war between the two largest New York newspapers became a competition between two "yellow kids," and the term "yellow journalism" was coined to describe the sensationalist, irresponsible journalistic tactics the papers adopted in their attempts to outsell one another.

The Sioux writer Charles Alexander Eastman learned first-hand the potentially devastating impact yellow journalism could have on already tense situations. When the Ghost Dance movement was gaining momentum on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Eastman hoped to diffuse the anxiety the spiritual movement caused in white reservation authorities by assuring them of the non-threatening nature of the dancers' activities. Instead, rumors of a possible Indian attack--rumors started mainly by irresponsible journalists--increased the white authorities' fears. Eastman lamented, "of course, the press seized upon the opportunity to enlarge upon the strained situation and predict an 'Indian uprising.' The reporters were among us, and managed to secure much 'news' that no one else ever heard of." The reporters' specious news stories fueled an already fraught situation that eventually culminated in the tragic massacre of 150 Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in December 1890.

When thinking about Wounded Knee, I cannot help but think of the dangerous rhetoric behind gun control either.

There are photos of the day here.
*they are graphic in nature. And not safe for children.

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