What does wounded knee symbolize?
At the end of the film, Ohiyesa (“Charles”) was treating those who were hurt at Wounded Knee, as the terrible tragedy occurred. He tended to the wounds of a woman who had been shot in the shoulder by the troops and after doing all he could for her, he walked across the room to a man who had also been shot. The man had been shot in the knee and when Ohiyesa examined him, he told the man, “I cannot mend the leg.” There is no way to mend a wounded knee; all he could do to save him was to remove the leg altogether.
This was not just a coincidence; it stands as a symbol of the irredeemable actions of the US government against the Native Americans at Wounded Knee. This man’s knee cannot be mended just as the mistreatment of the Natives and the butchered agreements made between both parties cannot be mended. To the Native Americans, this massacre is a massive bloodstain on the fabric of their history. It marks the point at which they ceased any belief that Americans would be people of their word and redeem themselves for their sleazy actions from the past.
One thing that I have learned in this section of the course is how important words are to the Natives. Even after receiving compensation for the lousy actions of the US Government, they still want an apology for the massacre. Words are very powerful and the refusal of our government is also a testament to just how powerful they can be. I believe they deserve an apology and taking into account just how much weight the spoken word carries for them, it should be given to them out of respect.