One hundred and twenty years ago yesterday, the Lakota people made the deadly ride to Wounded Knee that ended in massacre.
For the past 23 years, those wishing to remember their ancestors sacrifices have also made the ride. The commemoration is now taking on another element, with young members, most under 30, making the ride.
The Big Foot Memorial Ride is a way to connect the youth to the past and build a “bridge to the next generation,” as the Rapid City Journal reports.
Participants travel on horseback from camp to camp, braving the cold – and sometimes worse, like last week’s ice storm or last year’s Christmas blizzard.
Jeremiah Young Bull Bear said the weather only highlights the spiritual aspects of the ride.
“Like the elder riders always say, if you’re not suffering in some way – if you’re hungry, you’re sore, you get sick – if you’re not feeling any of those things, you’re not feeling the spirituality of the ride,” he said. “Anything spiritual, there’s always a sacrifice.”
“I don’t think of the coldness when I ride,” Lip said. “I think of our ancestors and how they rode.”
The entire Native community participates in one way or another. Phyllis Wilcox of Wanblee couldn’t ride this year, so she spent two days cooking – 15 turkeys, five gallons of mashed potatoes and 25 pounds of flour for frybread – for 90 hungry riders who arrived in Kyle on Christmas.