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The Standoff at Wounded Knee - We’ve Bet with Our Lives | 2

The Standoff at Wounded Knee - We’ve Bet with Our Lives | 2

Tue, 23 Jul 2019 07:05

Emboldened by their takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, AIM takes its campaign for Indian rights to the border towns of South Dakota. But now AIM is a top law enforcement priority, and violent clashes with police follow. When the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge ask for AIM’s help in their fight against corrupt tribal president Dick Wilson, the occupation of Wounded Knee provokes a fearsome federal response.

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On the afternoon of February 6, 1973, 21 days before the occupation of Wondonet, American Indian movement leader Dennis Banks sits across the table from Hobart Gates, the prosecutor for Custard County, South Dakota. Outside, a blizzard hammers the red brick courthouse. Banks looks out the window at the hundred aim supporters waiting outside in the freezing snow. 50 state troopers in full riot gear stand between the protesters and the courthouse doors. Everywhere aim goes these days, they manage to draw a crown. Banks takes his eyes from the window and glances at Russell Means. One of a couple aim leaders the prosecutor allowed in for the meeting. He's clenching his teeth, too angry to speak. That's a rarity for him, so Banks takes the lead. The prosecutor gates, you know why we're here. An Ogolala Lakota named Wesley Bad Hartwell was murdered in front of Bill's bar in Buffalo Gap. The killer was a white man who has heard that night saying he was going to get him an Indian. Our attorney has witnesses willing to testify to this, but you've only charged the killer with manslaughter. The treks are, and I will prosecute that manslaughter case to the fullest extent. What you know, it was first degree murder. I do not know that. Prosecutor gates, with all due respect, we've heard this story before. The hundred people outside, the ones who refuse to let into this building, they're sick and tired of your office letting the whites have open season on Indians and Custard County. Our people are murdered and raped with impunity. An Indian can't even go shopping around here without being harassed. Mr. Banks, I assess cases based on evidence. This was just a bar room brawl. Wesley Bad Hartwell was a troublemaker. He had 19 previous convictions. You're not looking at the facts. I already have all the evidence I need for the manslaughter case. A bar room brawl means a bloody nose. You have a body. That's murder. No jury in South Dakota would agree with you. Maybe no all white jury. But that, Russell Means, stands up from the table, stalks out of the room. The prosecutor leaves after him, but takes a turn down a different home with. Suddenly Banks hear shouting on the courthouse steps. Here gas canister breaks through the window. Police rush in with clubs coming straight for banks and other aim leaders. Banks jumped out of the broken window and into the snowy streets. He runs around to the front steps of the courthouse and sees a riot in full swing. The cop shoves a woman headlong down the courthouse steps. It's Sarah Bad Hartwell, the mother of the murdered man. Bloodied Indians are running towards the building from the gas station across the street. Molotov cocktails fly through the air and burst into pools of fire on the courthouse steps. It's only been a couple of minutes, but Banks sees Russell Means in handcuffs. So much for diplomacy. The young people of aim are undisciplined, hard to rain in. But Banks has to admit, it's good to see Custer South Dakota on fire. American scandal sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? When we agree on that too, Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast to check out. Find art you love today. Okay, kids are already asking what's for dinner, but breaking news, empty fridge. That's okay. I'll insta cart. Let's add some organic asparagus and some farm fresh chicken. Easy. Wait, is the oldest vegetarian this week or was it gluten free? Gluten free pasta, covered either way, cart it. And finally, some vegetarian gluten free olives from my well earned cocktail. When your family shopping list has more footnotes than groceries, the world is your cart. Visit insta or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time, minimum order $10, delivery subject to availability, additional terms apply. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scandal. In the early 1970s Indian activists with the American Indian movement or aim, built public support for native causes and attracted national attention with a series of political demonstrations. In the last episode, the militants took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. The confrontation ended just minutes before bloodshed and made aim a top law enforcement priority. Another conflict like the one at the Kastra County Courthouse was inevitable. Each clash would fuel activists a conviction that they would only be heard through violence and belief that would push them to make a stand at wounded knee. This is episode two. We've bet with our lives. On February 22nd, 1973, Pine Ridge tribal president Dick Wilson sits in his usual place at the head of the conference table, bringing the tribal council to order with a defined smirk on his round face. Today is an odd day for Wilson. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has allowed him to preside over his own impeachment hearing. According to the BIA, he gets to set the entire agenda. He still can't quite believe it, but he's definitely going to enjoy it. Almost all of the district councils on Pine Ridge have called on him to resign. By now, he knows the complaints well. That he's favoring the mixed bloods in the reservation towns over the traditional Lakota who live in the outlying districts. That he's engaged in rampant nepotism by putting his wife, his brother, and his son on the tribal payroll. That he's made questionable land deals. But these are just the benefits of power. And he's the one who has it. Pine Ridge is as big as the state of Connecticut. And decade after decade, it's named the most impoverished area in the entire United States. Wilson's got too many mouths to feed to be precious about ethics. There are winners and losers in this world. And as president, he gets to pick them. And he's got a literal army of support. They're called the goons. And now people are saying that the goons are overstepping their bounds, burning dissenters houses down. Well, people can't just run their mouths and expect there not to be consequences. The BIA thought the goons were a fine idea, a good step toward law and order on the reservation, and they gave Wilson $60,000 to outfit them. And there's more. People say he's violating civil rights by banning aim supporters from the reservation. Well, the BIA thought that was a good idea too. They even wrote him a commendation. So confident that he has the full backing of the US government, Wilson doesn't see the need to call any witnesses to his trial today. Instead, he's decided to show the council a movie, an 80 minute documentary by the John Birch Society that explains how all these people who talk about civil rights are really just communist infiltrators who hate American values. But more defense does Wilson need against aim. They already tried to burn down the courthouse in custer. They'll do the same to the government in Pine Ridge if they get the chance. That's what these people should be worried about. He nods to his supporters on the council, doesn't even bother to acknowledge his enemies. He calls the meeting to order, then starts the projector. Energy, the breakdown of law and order, a chaotic reign of terror, mob rule and rioting, the collapse of government authority. These phrases ring strange in the ears of Americans and for good reason. Wilson watches triumphantly as the dissidents on the council leave the room and disgust. But he knows this won't be the end of it. Aim is going to come for him. It's inevitable, but he won't make it easy on them. His men already have Russell Means in their sights. A few days later on February 27, Russell Means has been released on bail after his arrest for the riot in custer a few weeks prior. The riot was news from coast to coast and his bail was set at $35,000. But thanks to Ames new national profile, they were able to raise the funds to spring him almost overnight. Now he pulls into the parking lot of the Sue Nation shopping center in Pine Ridge Village, making a grocery run ahead of a busy evening. He knows it's a bad idea for him to be here, shopping and broad daylight. Since William concluded his sham of an impeachment trial, he's declared open season on his enemies. Means isn't even supposed to set foot on the reservation. Dick Wilson has threatened that if he does, he will personally cut Means braids off. Wilson's had it in for means ever since Aim took over the BIA in Washington and means admits the feeling is mutual. Mostly they attack each other through the media. Means calls out Wilson's corruption and violent towards the traditional Lakota and Wilson calls means a city Indian, an outsider that no one on the reservation takes seriously. But Means won't be intimidated and he needs to eat. He cuts the engine and walks through the parking lot toward the store. He has to admit that Wilson's words cut deep. He's an ogolala just like everyone else in the grocery aisles, but he hasn't lived on Pine Ridge since he was three years old. When his parents moved the family to San Francisco so his father could get work in the shipyards. So yes, in that sense, he is a city Indian, but he's not disconnected from what it means to be an ogolala, though he's not immersed in that life either. When he visits Pine Ridge, he sees a world that he missed out on. A world he might never be invited back into. Dick Wilson's ban just makes it official. But then again, today might be the day that changes all that. Today, the years he spent fighting with aim and cities across the country might make him a leader on Pine Ridge. The traditional ogolala chiefs are united against Dick Wilson and they've invited aim to a meeting tonight where they'll decide their next move. They haven't asked for aim's help, not yet. But if they do, it will be the most important moment of means life, his chance to lead his people into battle. As he walks to his car with some bread and cold cuts, means suddenly snaps out of his musing. He barely has enough time to recognize the two men rushing him before the first punch lands. It's Poker Joe Noble and Glenn Three Stars, two of Wilson's most trusted goons. Means is a veteran of countless barfights, so he drops his groceries and gets a good shot in on Poker Joe's gut. But the next thing he knows, he's on the ground next to his car, getting a steel toad boot to the ribs. But then it's abruptly over. The men walk off and mean smiles to himself. He's taken far worse and the goons don't know what's coming for them tonight. Later that evening, means sits in Calico Hall. It's a small community center not far from Pine Ridge and it's packed. Hundreds of people inside and hundreds more milling around outside waiting for news. The meeting has been going on for hours. Means finds himself forgetting his bruises as speaker after speaker comes to the front of the room to testify to Wilson's crimes. Women talking about their homes being fire bomb by goons, men describing the beatings that came in response to the slightest whisper of dissent, more waking to gunshots fired through their walls as their children slept. Pine Ridge has become a police state. Many point out with bitterness that the BIA and the FBI have refused to investigate any of these crimes. Because the fed stand with Wilson, time, and again. At the same time, there is hope, expressed through regular breaks for drumming, singing, spiritual renewal. Means has never felt more like an ogolala. At the end of her testimony, a woman proposes that they sing the flag song. It's the anthem of the Lakota composed by a Lakota veteran on his way home from World War I. On the one hand, means fines at a strange choice. A song about the Lakota raising arms alongside the US government. But it's also a call to action and a call for unity, full of hope for the future. The men arrange folding chairs in a circle around the drum and begin. The song ends to silence in the room. Means wonders if this is the moment when the traditional ogolala will ask aim to take up the battle standard mentioned in the song's lyrics. The next to speak is Ellen Moves Camp, a woman in her early 40s and a leader among the ogolala dissidents on Pine Ridge. She stands tall. Dick Wilson has forbidden any meetings, speech making or traditional dancing on the reservation. They could come in here right now to arrest us for exercising our constitutional rights and the FBI and the US marshals would help him do it. But this is our land, Lakota land. It belongs to us, not to him and his goons. So what are we going to do? I'll tell you, I believe that the time has come when we might have to commit violence in order to be heard. Many of you have said we should attempt to take over the tribal government building in Pine Ridge Village. But that's what Dick Wilson wants. That's where the FBI and the US marshals are waiting for us with their guns. So I have a proposal. Let's go to wounded me. For many years, we ogolala have not fought any kind of war and we have forgotten how to fight. But aim, they know how to fight. We Lakota should join with aim. We should accept their offer of help. She turns to means and Dennis Banks sitting beside him. Banks remain silent. They have already decided means will speak for aim at this gathering of his people. He rises and studies himself trying to contain his excitement. He wants to sound dignified when he speaks. Wounded knee is the ideal place for this fight. If the ogolala and aim joined to take wounded knee, the entire world will be watching. This is our chance. Dick Wilson won't be able to get away with his crimes. This is what aim was built to do. We've been fighting for years, standing with any Indian community that's asked for our help. Just say the word and we will fight with you. Ellen Moves Camp makes her way from the front of the room to speak to Chief Fools Crow, translating for him in Lakota. Means watches the old man's inscrutable face, trying to discern an answer. He sees the old man's lips move in response. Moves camp looks pleased as she returns to address the room. Chief Fools Crow says, all my life, I've been a man of peace. But now comes a time when we must fight for the survival of the ogolala nation. Go ahead and do it. Take your brothers from the American Indian movement. Go to wounded knee and make your stand. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant. Shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting in gardens and landscapes. With around 320 different proprietary varieties, including classics, limelight, hydrangea and little Henry sweet spire, all of their shrubs are trialed and tested for 8 to 10 years to ensure they outperform anything else on the market. Look for proven winners color choice shrubs in the distinctive white containers at your local garden center. Learn more and find a local retailer at proven winners color choice dot com slash one tree. That's proven winners color choice dot com slash one tree. The next day on February 28th FBI Special Asian Joseph Trimbock is at the wheel of his government issued sedan trying to figure out how a situation he's supposed to be in charge of has already gotten so out of hand. It's coming up on 24 hours since he got the call saying that armed members of the American Indian movement had seized the small village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. He was ready for that, if not so soon. The Justice Department had been warning him about trouble from aim ever since he got to South Dakota. But what he didn't expect was that the militants would be joined by hundreds of local Ogalala Lakota from Pine Ridge including women, children and old people. He can scarcely believe it, but in the year 1973 a band of Indians has taken 11 white residents of Wounded Knee hostage. Most of the hostages are elderly, but one is a child of 12. Agent Trimbock looks out at the snow covered South Dakota badlands as he drives. So empty here. The Indian Wars are meant for history books. How could there be so much trouble now? It's a bizarre situation and he's still wrapping his head around it. A task that's not helped by the fact that he hasn't slept since the night before last. He keeps trying to tell himself that this isn't all that different from a bank robbery. A bunch of tough guys with guns took over a building within his and people inside and are holding out until their demands are met. But Trimbock is having trouble believing his own story. For one thing, this isn't a bank. It's a remote village. He set up roadblocks but it's going to be next to impossible to keep militants from getting in or out. What's more, the militants have a complicated list of demands. They're calling for meetings with US Senators in the White House and they're insisting that Dick Wilson be thrown out of office. And sure Dick Wilson is a hothead, but he's also an elected government official. They can't just throw him out. It's not how democracy works. Trimbock can feel his pulse quickening as he nears his destination. A burned out car blocks the road just outside the village. The letters AIM spray painted onto the charred metal. This is Ames checkpoint, midway between the village and the government perimeter. Trimbock's already been here twice a day and both times he's been met by Indians pointing rifles at his chest. So far, no one has agreed to speak on behalf of the occupation. But now Trimbock is scheduled to meet with an aim leader named Russell Means and he knows he's finally found the right guy. The Justice Department has been feeding him information on Means and Means is intimidating for sure. But Trimbock has faced down some tough criminals in his day and in his experience, once they realize the FBI is ready for them, most criminals decide they're in over their heads. Trimbock plans to convince Means to end this quickly so that everyone can just go home. For the third time today, Trimbock approaches the burned out car that marks the AIM checkpoint. For a member stand behind the car, pointing their rifles at him. Trimbock wonders if these are the same rifles the men stole from the trading post and if so, whether they know how to operate them. At Trimbock's approach, Russell Means moves out from behind the checkpoint and walks confidently forward. He's younger than Trimbock expected, with long braids and a blood red shirt. Mr. Means, a special agent in charge of Joseph Trimbock of the FBI. As you know, the FBI has jurisdiction over major crimes on Pine Ridge. Do you care for me to list your fences? Kidnapping, assault, bribery, destruction of property? All serious charges that if proven would be major crimes. I could go on, but you have innocent people in there at your mercy. So let's resolve this situation. I'm happy to agent Trimbock. Are you familiar with our demands? Yeah, come on. Can't be serious. The United States government doesn't negotiate with criminals. Your only hope is surrender because there's no way me or my agents are leaving. We'll come in there if we have to. Perhaps you didn't get the memo, agent Trimbock. Your government already agreed to our demands. Back in 1868, the Fort Laramie Treaty. It made the Lakota an independent nation and granted us the Black Hills forever. Once that treaty is honored, all these problems with Dick Wilson and the BIA corruption will go away. And the FBI won't even have to worry about Pine Ridge anymore. I'm not here to relitigate history, you mean? This is a country of laws. Now you've occupied a village where we can watch your every move from the hilltops. You'll all be wiped out easily. Agent Trimbock, take our demands to your chief. At that means turns his back on Trimbock and walks back to the checkpoint. Trimbock stores back to his vehicle, realizing that it's going to be at least a few more days before he gets any sleep. No, this is not a bank robbery, not even close. This is a full on civil disturbance. Trimbock rushes back to BIA headquarters to call for more agents. When he gets there, there's a message waiting for him from James Aberresk, Democratic Senator from South Dakota. He wants to fly out from Washington to meet with aim immediately and bring George McGovern with him. McGovern is South Dakota's other Senator, recently defeated by Nixon in the presidential election. It kills Trimbock to think of the satisfaction Russell means we'll get from a meeting with these two Senators. Police follows his pride. Maybe they can end this. And maybe he can get some rest. On March 1st, the third day of the occupation, James Aberresk has made good on his word to fly to Wounded Ney immediately. Now the first term Senator from South Dakota sits in the backseat of a sedan driven by FBI Special Agent in charge Joseph Trimbock, who is just briefed him on the situation and will drive him as far as the FBI roadblock. From there, another car will take him the rest of the way into the occupied village. As he looks out the window of the silent car, Aberresk feels a strange mix of nostalgia and uncertainty. The Senator grew up here in the neighboring reservation of Rosebud, home to another band of the Lakota. He's the son of Lebanese merchants who ran a general store on the reservation and an outspoken advocate on Native American issues in the Senate. He disagrees sharply with Ames tactics, but he's sympathetic to their goals of Indian sovereignty. He's come to Pine Ridge and hope that he's the best person to resolve the situation peacefully. The thought that innocent hostages could be killed by Ame or in the government raid turns stomach. Cedabaside Aberresk is his senate colleague George McGovern. While the presidential election he just lost made McGovern America's most famous liberal, on Indian issues he and Aberresk couldn't be farther apart. Aberresk can't convince his colleague that this treaty talk isn't just an antiquated issue being dragged back from the past. It's hard to make people in Washington wrap their heads around what it means for a people to be dispossessed of their land and livelihood, robbed of the Black Hills, which in Lakota are known as the center of all that is. It's hard for people to understand that being trapped on a reservation whose borders have shrunk every time so one finds a new natural resource to extract, and that most of this is happening within the lifetimes of Lakota leaders like Wounded Knee, Occupyre, Chi Fools Crow. Still Aberresk's no polyanna. He knows Ame has no hope of getting any treaties reinstated. Senator McGovern spoke from nearly all of Washington when he scoffed Aberresk's sympathies for Indian sovereignty, telling him it's all unrealistic whining. That if you started dressing wrongs that go back 100 years or more, every government on the face of the earth would have to fall. Aberresk doesn't see it that way. He sees possibilities for reform that would greatly improve conditions on Pine Ridge, but he's only been in the Senate a month, and right now his only goal is a peaceful end to the occupation. The Senators exit Trimbox Car and then enter the other. Soon they're on the streets of Wounded Knee. It's jarring to see children playing in the streets, all women cooking over campfires, Indians with hunting rifles, standing guard. Things start looking even stranger when the vans full of reporters and TV cameras pull up behind them. The Senators exit the car with their media entourage and head for the house where they'll meet the leaders of Ame. Russell means it's the first out the door, with Dennis Banks close behind him. The sight of him jogs a memory about Aberresk. Less than a decade ago, he owned a restaurant near Rapid City, and one day a young and hungry Russell means approached him to ask if he could wear his Lakota regalia and dance and sing for tourists outside the restaurant. Aberresk agreed and gave means free meals as he worked for tips on the street. For a while they were friendly means even campaign for Aberresk's first congressional run, but they lost touch after means joined aim. Now the name Russell means strikes fear into the hearts of white America, and news cameras from all over the world are gathered to watch him make the government dance. When Aberresk doesn't have time to get lost in memory, he's here to make sure means doesn't kill anyone. Aberresk steps forward. Good to see you Russ. Good Senator McGuvern and I perhaps see the hostages with the news media present? Means looks to Banks. Of course Jim, we've got nothing to hide. The Senators, Russell means Dennis Banks and as many news cameras as can fit, cram into the living room in the small reservation home. Aberresk gazes at the elderly hostages, working stressed and tired but otherwise fine as they sit pressed together on the living room couches. There's a priest from the Catholic Church watching the cameras with confusion. The youngest hostage is a 12 year old girl who looks embarrassed by all the attention. She sits at the end of the couch. Her grandfather is parked beside her in his wheelchair. Hello. I'm Senator James Aberresk. This is Senator George McGuvern. We're here to check on your safety. Agnes Gilders leave. The owner of the trading post speaks up. We're fine Senator. This is our home. You can speak freely. Are you being held hostage? This is our home. We are not hostages. We're staying here to protect our property. This is all your fault Senator. Few people had done something about their problems. They wouldn't be here today. I'm asking you in front of all the cameras here. Do you want to stay or do you want to leave? We all want to stay. It's the Indians here that are the hostages. Because if we leave, you'll just shoot them all. Aim said from the beginning that we could leave anytime we wanted. Russell Means looks defiantly at the Senators. He steps forward and I'll say it again. These people can walk right out of here along with the Senators. But they won't. These people didn't know we were coming to Wounded Knee. But now that we're here, they believe in our cause. Aberresk looks from one hostage to the other. None show any interest in his help. Means comes forward so that the next word to the Senator will be captured on camera. Now you all know that there are no lives at risk here other than Indian lives. Stahl all you want on our demands, but we are not leaving. All of us, all of the people here, we've met with our lives. We won't leave until the Lakota sees justice. Rest walks outside. The camera's still on him. Trying to hide his bafflement. What was the FBI on about ringing their hands over these hostages? They're not even hostages. And if there aren't any hostages, why does the FBI appear ready to turn Wounded Knee into a war zone? Broom, brum, brum, brum. Oh, beep, beep, boom. All right, ready? Ready. Okay, when you watch the next woman, the one raised, don't put up. Watch it with us. Tune in the fast and loose sidecasts, hosted by the kid, Mirro and me, Michelle Beatle. He is funny and I will be there. And she also knows what she's talking about. We go live on amp every race Sunday. That is right. Download the app and follow us at amp presents F1 on amp. We get support from Audible. We've all got busy schedules. And I'm sure sometimes you feel like with all the things you have to do, it's hard to find time for the stuff you love to do. Like reading, that's why Audible is so great. Audible offers an incredible selection of audiobooks across every genre from bestsellers and new releases to celebrity memoirs, mysteries and thrillers, motivation, wellness, business and more. Plus, as an Audible member, you can choose one title a month to keep from their entire catalog, including the latest best sellers and new releases. And also, I have to say, I love how the Audible app makes it easy to listen anytime, anywhere. When you're traveling, working out, walking, doing chores, wherever your day takes you. Cleaning the bathroom has really never been more fun. Let Audible help you discover new ways to laugh, be inspired or be entertained. New members can try it free for 30 days. Visit slash listening or text listening to 500 500. That's slash listening or text listening to 500 500 to try audible free for 30 days. slash listening. Early on March 3rd, the fifth day of the occupation. FBI Special Agent and Charge Joseph Trimbock walks one of the endless hallways of offices in Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City. It's going to be a long trip back to Pine Ridge. Aim blowing smoke about their so called hostages couldn't have come at a worst time. Senator Aberres told him that Aim was clearly just trying to gain attention by using the word hostage when there were none. Well, Aim got what they wanted. Trimbock's phone has a stopped ringing with calls from the media, and meanwhile, Aberres has the gall to accuse Trimbock of being the one who is escalating the situation. But who cares if the residents of Wounded Knee are free to come and go? If militants come and hold your village in all your earthly possessions hostage, you're a hostage too. What you want clearly doesn't matter. But Washington bought it hookline and sinker, and Trimbock is going to have an even harder time getting Washington to take decisive action to end this mess. He came to Ellsworth today to meet with Colonel Vollney Warner of the United States Army. President Nixon sent Colonel Warner to assess the situation at Wounded Knee and give his recommendation on whether to deploy the army to South Dakota to contain the standoff. Before the meeting, Trimbock saw Colonel Warner's arrival as the answer to all his problems. Of course, the army should take this off his hands. FBI agents aren't trained soldiers. They should be slapping handcuffs on disarmed militants after the tear gas floats away, not in the middle of it. He was sure all he'd have to do was convince Warner to send in the army civil defense unit, and the mess on Pine Ridge would be cleared up with an hours, with probably only a few A members dead as a result. But then, Colonel Warner showed up at the meeting in Cognito, wearing civilian clothes, a clear sign that the president didn't want the public to be aware of a military presence at Wounded Knee. And when Trimbock made his case for army involvement, Warner all but laughed in his face, asking why he was so afraid of militants who barely had any firepower. Warner couldn't resist reminding him that the law requires an act of Congress or the president to deploy the military on U.S. soil. And in that moment Trimbock saw clearly that Washington didn't have the guts to make a public action, and they'd sent Warner to cover for their cowardice. Learning that there would be no military intervention would have been bad enough, but it only got worse from there. Warner informed Trimbock he'd be sticking around in Wounded Knee to help him with his decision making, making it clear that they were going to have it both ways, not getting involved, but also poking their nose in. Warner's already ordered Trimbock to change the rules of engagement. Now his agents and harms way have to shoot to wound instead of shooting to kill. Hasing Trimbock thinks, well if Washington's going to put him in charge if a standoff with a paramilitary group, he's going to have to up his game. Aim is digging foxholes and has a sniper in the church steeple. Trimbock's determined that there won't be a single casualty among his men. He's already gotten the South Dakota National Guard to agree to send him two armored personnel carriers, tank like vehicles impervious to small arms fire, that he can use to get his agents closer to the perimeter. He also asked FBI headquarters in Washington for 160 machine guns. The modern equivalent of the Hatchkiss mini cannons used to massacre the Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890. Trimbock thought such outside firepower was the fastest way to end the standoff, but his superior thought it was a little too on the nose and sent a hundred assault rifles instead. Still it's something. Between FBI agents flying in from around the country, the US marshals and BIA police, they have about 250 federal personnel amassed against the 100 or so armed occupiers. A negotiator from the Department of Justice is coming in to try to end the standoff, a guy called Ericsson. Technically the negotiator will replace Trimbock as the top government official at Wounded Knee, but it's just more bureaucratic bungling. Trimbock's still in the exact same position being asked to hold off the militants with his men in harm's way, and good luck to Ericsson when he tries to reason with Russell Means. If he isn't successful, Trimbock will be ready to end this mess himself. On March 5th, as the occupation enters its seventh day, Dennis Banks walks the stretch of road between the burned out car at the aim checkpoint and the growing forces roaming the federal perimeter about a mile and a half distance. Banks doesn't quite know what to make of the show of force. He can just spot the US marshals in their blue chumsuits on one hilltop, an FBI agent scattered behind one of their new armored personnel carriers on another. The other day he was in the church when it got buzzed by a fighter jet, all this for aim and a few hunting rifles. It seems a little much. Then again, for all their impressive manpower, the feds can't completely seal off the 15 mile perimeter they've established around the village. Banks can still sneak people in and out under the cover of darkness to gather food and ammunition for the occupiers. Both sides now refer to the area between the aim checkpoint and the federal perimeter as a demilitarized zone or DMZ, a term popularized by the Korean War. Fittingly, a number of the aim occupiers are veterans of Korea or Vietnam. Strange how they found themselves in bunkers again, looking out toward enemy lines. Since the Senators left town, aim bunkers have taken fire daily, usually just short bursts, but occasionally a sustained barrage. After each one, banks and the feds get on the radio and accuse each other of starting it. It's incredible that no one has been shot, and it can't last. Just the other day, the FBI drove one of their armor personnel carriers through the DMZ and came to within 500 yards of an aim bunker. They looked ready to attack. This is as the feds told the media point blank that they were keeping their guns miles away from the village, and they accused means of being the unpredictable one. Luckily, one of the news crews caught the incident on film and called the FBI out on their lie. The feds backed off a bit after that, but it's taking all of bank's efforts to reassure his people after close calls like this. Meanwhile, Dick Wilson is clearly getting impatient, which is distracting and dangerous. He's posted flyers inviting the white ranchers in the area to join him in wiping aim out, and boasts that he has an army of 900 men. Banks doubt Dick Wilson can actually marshal that kind of force, but he also doubts the feds would stop Wilson's goons if they got in their heads to overrun the village. As he comes over to arise a half mile outside the village, banks can't help but smile as he catches sight of his destination. Canvass T.P. aim set up in the middle of the DMZ, where he'll meet with the Department of Justice to continue negotiations. Banks is keeping his expectations low. He doesn't think much of Ralph Erickson, the specialist assistant to the Attorney General, who's always sitting stiffly in the T.P. like he'd rather be anywhere else on the planet. Everything out of his mouth is more of the same bowl. Banks talks patiently about treaties, and the connection between injustices old and new. Erickson cites laws and regulations, like Banks is a misbehaving child back at boring school. Banks reminds him that the treaties are legally binding too, and so it goes. One thing Erickson said last time really tickled him though, it was about Dick Wilson. They told Banks that if they allowed one tribal government to be overthrown, the entire reservation system could collapse, and Banks said that sounds great. Of course, they didn't find it funny. Today Banks enters the T.P. and sees Ralph Erickson sitting as usual with his suit and tie. Banks knows this bureaucrat would love to see him in jail. Life in prison is what he threatened last time, but is Erickson a man who would send the cavalry into Wounded Knee to kill him? Banks isn't sure about that. Just hours after his meeting with Erickson, Banks stands in a church pulpit, flanked by Russell Means and Lakota Medicine man Leonard Crowdog, aimed spiritual leader. He holds a government proposal printed on Department of Justice Letterhead with all 200 of the occupiers gathered before him. Everyone, I've called you here to read you a proposal from the United States government. The fed say we are all free to leave Wounded Knee without fear of mass arrest, but all Indians must surrender their weapons, and they say all males must identify themselves. They continue. There is no intent to punish persons unknowingly involved, but even if we wish to do it, we could not close our eyes to the criminal violations that have occurred. Amnesty is out of the question. Banks looks out of the crowd, and is glad to see faces hardening at the government's words. Now you all know what I've been dealing with, and here's the last of it. The failure of agreement on a peaceful solution after every effort on behalf of the United States government has created a very dangerous situation. If the leaders of Wounded Knee are bent on violence, that is their concern, but I urge them now to send the women and children out of Wounded Knee before darkness falls tomorrow. Banks finishes reading and holds the paper aloft. Any of you are free to leave, but this is what we think of this offer. With that, Banks strikes a match and sets fire to the letter. The next day, Banks sits on the steps of the Catholic Church, watching the sun drop toward the horizon. Come sunset, the occupiers will have defied the federal deadline. They've made all possible preparations for an attack. Burn the bridge of the creek to prevent the armor personnel carrier from coming in from the south, filled bottles and light bulbs with gasoline for Molotov cocktails, reinforced bunkers with pillowcases full of sand. Leonard Crowdog smudged paint on the cheeks of every fighter, explaining to those who didn't grasp the significance that if they were killed in battle, the paint would signify that they were on their way to the spirit world with great honor. If the next few hours will be the last for the Indians gathered here, Banks suppose it's a fitting end, history repeating itself, on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. Next, on American Scandal, the Ogallala defy federal forces by declaring the occupied village and independent nation. When the occupation inspires Axe Rebellion on other reservations throughout the country, the White House tries desperately to contain the fallout. From Wondery, this is American Scandal. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to this right now. If you're listening on a smartphone, tap or swipe over the cover out of this podcast. You'll find the episode notes, including some details you may have missed. You'll also find some offers from our sponsors. By supporting them, you help us offer this show to you for free. We'd also love to learn a little bit about you. Please complete a short survey at slash survey. That's slash survey. We'd love to know what you're listening to, what you like, and what topics we might tackle next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Search for hashtag American Scandal or follow me at Lindsay A. Graham. We use many sources when researching our stories, but we highly recommend the books where white men feared to tread by Russell Means with Marvin J. Wolfe and American Indian Mafia by Joseph H. Trimbach and John M. Trimbach. 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