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Big Foot Memorial Ride begins today

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  • Big Foot Memorial Ride begins today

    Native Americans on the Big Foot Memorial Ride arrive at Porcupine on Dec. 28, 2007. (Photo by Carson Walker, The Associated Press)

    Big Foot Memorial Ride begins today
    By Carson Walker
    The Associated Press - 16 December 2008
    Rapid City Journal | News ยป Local | Big Foot Memorial Ride begins today

    WOUNDED KNEE -- Kim Cameron is about to set off on a nearly 300-mile journey into the past. She and other American Indian horseback riders plan to begin the annual Big Foot Memorial Ride on Monday at Sitting Bull's grave site. They hope to finish at Wounded Knee battle site in two weeks.

    The trek has been made the past 23 years to honor the more than 250 men, women and children shot here Dec. 29, 1890, by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre.

    Cameron, who has done the ride before, said it has taught her patience, respect and discipline. She also has learned about horses, her Lakota culture and how to work with other people on the ride, which the young people call the Future Generations Ride.

    "It means a lot. It means more for our people. It means our culture should be coming back steadily," she said.

    About eight out of 10 of the riders are young people who want to experience the ride for themselves and learn more about their traditions, said Ron His Horse Is Thunder, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman and a descendant of Sitting Bull.

    "This has become a ride for them. A way of renewing, if you will, cultural values," he said. "It's become a rite of passage for those young kids to be able to say, 'I've done that and in doing so have practiced my culture and have learned the values."'

    Donaven Yellow, of Wakpala, said he was 11 on his first ride. He said he has gotten more involved with and learned more about his culture every year.

    "It helps keep my mind focused on what's right and wrong," Yellow said.

    The memorial ride began in 1986 when a handful of Lakota riders decided to follow the December 1890 trip across South Dakota taken by Chief Big Foot and his followers.

    That year, Sitting Bull, living on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, was killed when resisting arrest by reservation police. After he was killed, Big Foot's band fled Standing Rock and had hoped to spend the winter in safety with the Oglala in the Badlands. They were intercepted and killed by the 7th Cavalry outside Wounded Knee, which sits at the juncture of three creeks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.

    The modern-day riders feel some of cold the original riders felt, even though they have insulated caps, coats and warm food and shelter awaiting them at the end of each day.

    "Riding for my ancestors is a really big thing for me," Cameron, of Wakpala, said of the challenge.

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

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