Last Updated on April 29, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1305
Leonard Crow Dog was AIM’s spiritual leader during Wounded Knee, where he revived the Ghost Dance. Each evening, a quiet ceremony was held and the warriors took sweat baths to purify themselves. Leonard performed a Sun Dance ceremony. He was also the chief doctor, teaching white medics how to use his remedies and pray over patients. He also took over as chief engineer. However, he did not fight.
The Ghost Dance was a tradition in the Crow Dog family. They danced, in upside-down American flags, at Sitting Bull’s camp and at Big Foot’s place. The whites were afraid of the dance, and called in the army to suppress it. Leonard surrendered to avoid bloodshed but later declared that as long as the Ghost Dance went on, prohibited or not, the sacred tradition of the Indians would not be dead. He gathered forty dancers, and they danced for four days, unperturbed by the falling snow.
Mary wanted to have her baby at Wounded Knee, not in the hospital, in part because she remembered how her sister had been forcibly sterilized in a hospital. Mary planned to give birth with an Indian prayer and with the help of women friends. Several men told her she should not be here, pregnant as she was, but Mary paid them no heed. There was another woman, Cheryl Petite, who was also pregnant; the men placed bets on who would give birth first. Unfortunately, Cheryl’s birth was difficult, and she left to have her baby at the hospital.
A week before Mary’s labor began, she took part in a Peyote meeting. After her water broke, she felt a spiritual connection to the Indian women and children who had been massacred at Wounded Knee years before. A firefight began as her labor pains became intense. By the time her baby, Pedro, was born, many had gathered outside the tent. Everybody began to cheer and sing, and the Sioux men declared that Pedro was “a warrior.”
The marshals misunderstood the cheering, thinking that a charge was on the way. A few days after this, one of the airdrops came, and Mary was delighted to see a fresh onion among the supplies. Then another firefight began and she and her baby had to run through gunfire. She lay on top of the baby to shield him, and they made it safely to a basement.
Leonard returned to Wounded Knee a few days later, held another peyote meeting, and gave Pedro an Indian name. The day Buddy Lamont was shot, Mary and her baby left Wounded Knee to help Lamont’s family with the funeral.
On her way out of Wounded Knee, Mary was arrested and the police tried to take her baby, but luckily Cheyenne, Buddy’s sister, arrived and said she would take the baby while Mary was held for questioning. After twenty-four hours, they let Mary go. Mary’s mother had come to meet her and demanded to know why Mary could not leave AIM and live a peaceful life. But she was furious with the police as well, and the pair were able to understand each other in their shared anger.
Mary and the baby, after another brief imprisonment, had to hitchhike home. A truck driver attempted to force himself on Mary, and she had to leave his truck. Eventually a “nice old skin” drove her the rest of the way home.
About a week later, the siege itself ended, with Leonard being the last to leave. He was taken to Rapid City jail.
After Wounded Knee, Mary married Leonard Crow Dog. He proposed to her during a Sun Dance, and initially she said no. Then AIM leader Clyde Bellecourt was shot, and after a ceremony given to help him recover, Leonard proposed again. This time, Mary accepted. She moved in with him in 1973. They lived at “Crow Dog’s Paradise,” a settlement which had two main buildings for the whole tiyospaye. Their house had a kitchen–living room and two bedrooms. Mary was unprepared to immediately be a wife and mother. Crow Dog...
(The entire section contains 1305 words.)
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