Big Foot

Big Foot

Big Foot (other known as Jeremy Gouzd) (1824? - December 29, 1890), also known as Spotted foot Elk, was the name of a chief of a sub-group of the Lakota Sioux. He was son of chief Lone Horn, and became a chief upon the death of his father. He was a highly renowned chief, with skills in war and negotiations. He was killed in 1890 in South Dakota, along with almost 300 other members of his tribe, by the U.S. Army in what came to be known as the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Early life

Si Tȟaŋka was born the son of Lakota Sioux Chief Lone Horn between 1820 and 1825 into the Minneconjou — "Planters by the River" — subgroup of the Teton Lakota (Sioux). He later became the Chief of his tribe at his father's death in 1875.

Chief Big Foot

killful diplomat

As Chief, Big Foot (Si Tȟaŋka) was considered a great man of peace and was best known among his people for his political and diplomatic successes. He was skilled at settling quarrels between rival parties, killing bears, and was often in great demand among other Teton bands.

Alliance with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse

During the 1870s, he allied himself with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse (together with Touch the Clouds) against the U.S. Army, but saw no major action during the war in 1876-77. The Miniconjou Lakota suffered during the Sioux War for the Black Hills, after which they surrendered. Following the defeat of the Sioux, Big Foot urged his followers to adapt to the white men’s ways while retaining their Lakota language and cultural traditions. Many Lakota owe their new traditions to his influence.

Reservation placement

Following the Sioux Wars, the government placed the Minneconjou on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Big Foot encouraged his people to adapt to life on the reservation by developing sustainable agriculture and building schools for Lakota children. Big Foot was among the first American Indians to raise corn in accordance with government standards. Big Foot also advocated that his people take a peaceful attitude toward white settlers.

Participation in "the Ghost Dance" movement

New religious movement

Due to poor living conditions on the reservations (made worse by fraud and corruption on the part of Indian agents charged, by law, with supplying the tribe with basic necessities), the Lakota were in a state of great despair; by 1889, they began to look to a radical solution to their on-going problems.

The radical solution came in the form of "the Ghost Dance" movement; it was a new religion initiated by a Paiute prophet named Wovoka. Big Foot and the Lakota were among the most enthusiastic believers in the Ghost Dance ceremony when it arrived among them in the spring of 1890.

Although government-imposed reservation rules outlawed the practice of the religion, the movement swept like a wild fire through their camps, causing local Indian agents to react with alarm. Some agents successfully suppressed the dancers; others called for federal troops to restore order.

The invitation of Chief Red Cloud

After Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock reservation in 1890, his followers fled to seek refuge with his half-brother, Chief Big Foot. In December 1890, fearing arrest and government reprisals against his band, Big Foot headed south to the Pine Ridge Reservation at the invitation of Chief Red Cloud. Red Cloud hoped that his fellow chief could help make peace. Hoping to find safety there, having no intention of fighting, and flying a white flag, Big Foot contracted pneumonia on the journey to Pine Ridge.

Death at Wounded Knee

Peaceful surrender

On December 29, the 7th Cavalry intercepted them. Ill with pneumonia, Big Foot surrendered peacefully. The cavalry took him and his band into custody and escorted them to a site near Wounded Knee Creek, where they were to set up camp. The campsite was already established with a store and several log houses.

Wounded Knee massacre

The night before the ‘Wounded Knee Massacre', Colonel James Forsyth had arrived at Wounded Knee Creek, and had ordered his men to place four Hotchkiss cannons in position around the area in which the Indians had been forced to camp. Morning arrived, and on 29 December 1890, what has become known as the ‘Wounded Knee Massacre’ took place. Soldiers, under the command of Colonel Forsyth, entered the camp and demand that the Native Americans gave up their weaponry. In the confrontation that ensued, a firearm was discharged, believed to be by a deaf Indian named Black Coyote. A large gun fight ensued and the end result was the of at least 150 Indian men, women and children, Big Foot being among one of the killed.

ee also

* Lone Horn
* Ghost Dance
* Sitting Bull
* Crazy Horse
* Touch the Clouds
* Red Cloud
* Wounded Knee Massacre

External links

* [ Lakota Chief Big Foot from]
* [ Lakota Chief Big Foot at]
* [ Lakota Chief Big Foot and the Ghost Dance]

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