Susan Forsyth is an Associate Fellow of the Department of Literature at the University of Essex. She received her PhD in American Studies from Christ Church College, Canterbury. Her interests are in American Indian, Maori and Aboriginal literature, history and politics, United States literature, and postcolonial studies. She has published articles on American Indian collaborative autobiography and Oscar Howe’s painting, Wounded Knee Massacre. Her current research focuses on James W. Forsyth, the officer in charge of the Seventh Cavalry at Wounded Knee.2003 0-7734-6707-6
At Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in 1890, the majority of Big Foot’s band of Miniconjou Lakotas was massacred by the Seventh Cavalry of the United States Army. Wounded Knee has gained great symbolic significance over the years. It is often linked with the end of the frontier and the Lakota nation, and as symbolic of broken treaties, US military aggression, and subsequent injustice toward Native Americans. This study examines 110 years of representations, including conflicting newspaper and journal reports, survivors’ testimonies, official reports, compensation hearing claims, history texts, autobiographies, fiction, Oscar Howe’s painting, Wounded Knee Massacre, the film Thunderheart, and displays in museums of artifacts. The text confronts the many problems relating to the representations: the ease with which stereotypes are adopted and accepted, the assumption of objectivity in historical texts, the complexities involved in collecting Lakota stories, the tension between the freedom encountered and limits imposed on writing historical fiction, and the ethical issues confronted in the memorialization and display of the Wounded Knee site and artifacts.