On December 29th, 1890, Chief Bigfoot's band of 300 unarmed men, women and children were gunned down by a drunken and inexperienced 7th Cavalry. By the end of the day, a blizzard had set in. The bodies of the dead quickly froze into grotesque shapes. Later, soldiers dug a mass grave and unceremoniously burried the dead at Wounded Knee. The survivors- four men and forty-seven women and children, were hauled by buckboard and left at the Episcopal mission at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. It was four days past christmas. Above the pulpit a banner read- "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men."
THE RIDE TO WOUNED KNEE tells the true story of the massacre of 1890. One hundred years later, a ceremonial reenactment of the flight of the Lakota was performed by their descendents. They rode from Standing Rock to Wounded Knee, a journey of 250 miles, in minus 70 degree weather during the same two week period in December. This beautiful footage by award winning cinematographer Frances Reid dramatizes the 1890 events. Archival flims by such pioneering directors as Buffalo Bill, Thomas Ince, Buster Keaton and John Ford further dramatize the history. Music from the Memorial Ride, and authentic music from 1890- from the Seventh Cavalry, the Ghost Dance and the songs of Sitting Bull, add depth and meaning. The historical narrations are all based on documetary sources- newspapers, millitary records, diaries and interviews with survivors of the massacre.
Interviews with the leaders of the Bigfoot Memorial Ride, including Arvol Looking Horse, the holder of the sacred pipe, add great insight to the historical events and their meaning to the Lakota people today. Elders whose parents or grandparents survived the massacre tell the stories that they heard as children, in the tradition of Lakota oral history. THE RIDE TO WOUNDED KNEE ends with a haunting memorial at the mass grave site at Wounded Knee. Grieving and praying, the people honor their ancestors, then wipe away the tears and turn toward the future.