Analysis Questions

These analysis questions challenge the student’s careful viewing of “Wounded Knee." They can be used as a handout for students to fill out as each answer is revealed in the film.

Chapter One, The Takeover

Protesters, the Oglala people, tribal chairman Dick Wilson

  1. Why did AIM leaders, traditional Oglala leaders, and dissident Oglalas take on the U.S. government? What do they say was at stake?
  2. What list of demands did the protesters give to FBI agent Joseph Trimbach? What was Trimbach’s reaction?
  3. Why are the Oglala notable in American history and imagination? What other name are they known by?
  4. What had happened to their way of life by 1973?
  5. Who ran the Oglala Sioux tribal government?
  6. Who did Dick Wilson favor and how did this affect the tribe?
  7. What did traditional Oglala do to fight the corruption?
Chapter Two, Day 2

Negotiation attempts, AIM plan is hatched

  1. What was the FBI director’s response to the hostage situation?
  2. What surprised South Dakota Senators George McGovern and James Abourezk once they arrived in Pine Ridge?
  3. Why was AIM controversial? What high profile publicity had the group generated prior to 1973 and Pine Ridge?
  4. After their failure to impeach Dick Wilson, Oglala dissidents sought AIM’s help. What incident in nearby Custer caught their attention?
  5. After exhausting all legal options to Dick Wilson’s harassment, why did the dissidents turn to AIM? What was AIM’s motto?
  6. How did female Oglala leaders spark action on the decision to seize Wounded Knee? What did tribal elder Fools Crow tell the community?
Chapter Three, Day 4

Negotiations, remembering the past - Wounded Knee massacre

  1. How did the U.S. government respond to the protests? Who did the protesters demand to see?
  2. Why was the White House distracted? How did this affect the negotiation process?
  3. What was the third force in addition to Indian activists and federal marshals? What did this third element do to complicate efforts?
  4. What military experience did the protesters have inside the village?
  5. What treaty did Lakota chiefs sign in 1868? Was the treaty upheld by the U.S. government?
  6. What happened at Wounded Knee in the winter of 1890 and how did the dissidents gain strength from its memory?
Chapter Four, Day 6

Using the media, the legacy of Indian boarding schools

  1. How did the dissidents use the media to protect and bolster their cause?
  2. What was the nation's response to the standoff?
  3. After the Indian Wars, what U.S. strategy was used to assimilate Native children?
  4. What constraints did the U.S. government place on the over 100,000 children sent to nearly 500 schools scattered across the U.S.?
  5. What did the de-Indianization program do to families?
Chapter Five, The Independent Oglala Nation

Sovereignty and the spiritual Indian movement, the relocation program

  1. What ultimatum by the U.S. government led the dissidents to make preparations for a last stand? What happened?
  2. What happened when the roadblocks were lifted? What startling announcement was made?
  3. How did the independent Oglala nation assert its sovereignty? What was the significance of the medal Fools Crow wore to the U.N.?
  4. What did the chiefs and medicine men introduce to the protesters who came from other places and who were disconnected from Indian traditions?
  5. How did the Indian movement differ from other political movements of the time?
  6. What program did the Federal government introduce in the 1950s and 1960s to solve the Indian “problem”?
  7. What were Native peoples promised and what did they actually receive?
  8. What unanticipated result did the relocation program produce?
Chapter Six, Standoff

The Siege of Wounded Knee

  1. What tactics did new U.S. government negotiator Kent Frizzell employ?
  2. What event brought renewed attention to the standoff?
  3. Why did a negotiated deal collapse?
  4. What were the conditions at Wounded Knee following the collapse of the deal? What pressures were U.S. officials under to end the occupation?
Chapter Seven, The End of the Siege

Buddy Lamont's death and burial, the walkout

  1. How did the U.S. government destabilize the occupation?
  2. What event caused the end of the siege?
Chapter Eight, Aftermath

Dick Wilson's revenge, litigation, the good that came out of Wounded Knee

  1. What was the “reign of terror” after the siege?
  2. According to Charlotte Black Elk, what is the struggle for Indian people in the 21st century?

Comprehension Questions

These comprehension questions challenge students to make connections and understand the effects of historical circumstances on this particular chapter of history, the cause and effect relationships between historical events and social movements, and the effects of implementation of U.S. policy.

  1. Examine the 1887 Dawes Allotment Act. How did it affect Native land, sovereignty, and culture?
  2. President Benjamin Harrison’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1889 said, “the tribal relations should be broken up, socialism destroyed, and the family and the autonomy of the individual substituted.” How were these ideas instituted?
  3. What was the Ghost Dance religion? What conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation contributed to its popularity? How did the government react to the Ghost Dance and what did they do to leaders who supported it (Sitting Bull and others)? How did this lead to the massacre of the Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890?
  4. What was the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924? What effect did it have on the termination and relocation policies of the 1950s?
  5. The individual allotment policy (Dawes Act) was terminated by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (also known as the Indian New Deal). How did Native peoples react to this new law? Why were some opposed to it while others supported it?
  6. What was the purpose of the 1952 Urban Indian Relocation Program?
  7. What was the purpose of the Indian termination policy passed in 1953? What effect did this policy have on Native economies, education, and health? How many tribes and bands were no longer recognized by the federal government? When was this policy rescinded and why?
  8. What conflicts arose with the relocation of tribes to reservations in the late 19th century and the urban relocation of Native peoples from reservations to cities in the 1950s and 1960s?
  9. Research the role of Lakota AIM member Madonna Thunder Hawk and other Native women in the American Indian Movement. What organization did she start? (Review film chapter 2, Day 2)
Exclusive Corporate
Funding Provided by:
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Major Funding by:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Additional Funding
Provided by:
American Experience