Student, teacher hope president’s Wounded Knee tweet encourages awareness

South Dakota News

Native American groups are condemning President Donald Trump for a tweet he made, using one of the largest domestic massacres in American history to mock a political opponent.

On New Year’s Eve, Elizabeth Warren recorded an Instagram live video from her kitchen. In it, she talked about a 2020 presidential run. On Sunday night, President Trump tweeted this: “If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” 

Since that tweet, many are upset the President was mocking or making fun of the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Battle of Little Bighorn. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds responded to President Trump’s tweet.

On Monday, he tweeted this thread: “SD, where the Wounded Knee Massacre took place, is currently home to nearly 80k enrolled tribal members. On that day in 1890 more than 200 Lakota men, women and children were killed.” “The Wounded Knee Massacre was one of the darkest moments in our history. It should never be used as a punchline.” “I invite @POTUS to join me in visiting South Dakota’s tribal communities. We must strive to always work together, improve relationships, celebrate our diversity and mend our history through reconciliation & mutual respect.”

It happened in southwestern South Dakota in 1890. U.S troops killed hundreds of Lakota Sioux men, women and children. A local student and the man who oversees Indian education in the Sioux Falls School District hope this helps others learn about history. The Wounded Knee Massacre is a history lesson that teaches us about the harm caused by deep-seeded racism.

“Not many people know it was a massacre. It wasn’t a war. It wasn’t a battle. It was a massacre,” Delilah Rouse, Lincoln High School junior, said.

It’s one of the lessons Delilah Rouse and other Sioux Falls students learn in Native American connections classes. Delilah says anyone who knows what happened wouldn’t make light of it. 

“My first main reaction was anger,” Delilah said. 

“It would be like sort of making light of slavery, making light of the holocaust. Those are events that have happened that affected people and still affect people,” Tim Easter, Office of Indian Education Department Chair, said.

Easter says the discussion America is having about Wounded Knee is an opportunity for growth. 

“People talk about political correctness. In my personal opinion, it’s more of an enlightenment. I think we get more aware of the comments and the things we say,” Easter said.

Delilah takes a lot of pride in her culture and hopes this encourages others to learn about it. 

“If you really want to talk about a subject, you should know what you’re talking about first,” Delilah said. 

U.S. Senator John Thune and U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson are also responding via statements. Thune says, “As I have often said, I would prefer the president tweet less. Wounded Knee is obviously a very tragic part of our state’s and nation’s history and is not something to be joked about.”

Johnson says, “Men, women and children were massacred at Wounded Knee, leaving behind one of our nation’s darkest stains. We all have an obligation to be more aware of these dark moments in American history and speak about them in a respectful way.”

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