Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Years after their deaths, the voices of four hostages come forward to let the truth be known about what really happened at Wounded Knee.

At the request of my Grandfather I would like to provide a copy of some cassette tapes to his children and grandchildren, in a hope that they might pass these stories on to their children and grandchildren.

Starting somewhere around the late 1950's, my grandfather took his family on vacations out to Wounded Knee South Dakota. This they did for about 20 years. My grandfather and his son would go around to the Indians in the area while his wife and the girls would help Agnes Gildersleeve in the trading post. The first year they camped in tents. The next year and from then on they stayed in a cabin the Gildersleeves let them use. My grandparents became close friends with the Gildersleeves and the Indians. The were so close to the Indians that they were allowed to participate in one of their Peyote ceremonies. Wounded Knee and the Gildersleeves will be forever close to their hearts.

The Gildersleeves always referred to the Indians as "our Indians" and they cared about the Indians. Their trading post provided a venue to sell their bead work and other things. The museum was erected to preserve the Indian culture. Indians were admitted for free, while white people were admitted for a fee. On Feb 27, 1973 the village of Wounded Knee was taken over by American Indian Movement activists. The takeover lasted 71 days. The Gildersleeves and other friends of my grandparents were taken hostage. Their Homes were looted and destroyed. The museum and trading post were burned. They took a total loss. Indians they once called friends turned against them.

The media wanted to hear their story, but they never gave it. Much of what you will see on the Internet and read in books puts the Gildersleeves in a bad light and glorifies the criminals that robbed the Gildersleeves and Wounded Knee of virtually everything of value. On Sep. 21, 1976 my grandfather decided to record the real story of Wounded Knee for his children and Grandchildren. My grandparents recorded the story of four of the Wounded Knee Hostages: Clive Gildersleeve, Agnes Gildersleeve, "Girlie" Amelia Clark, and Mary Pike.

I contacted Joann Feraca, Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve's daughter and she provided me with the names of many of the people pictured below.

Wilbur Riegert. Taken 1968.

Left to right: My grandmother, possibly Joann Feraca (Agnes And Clive Gildersleeve's daughter), Clive Gildersleeve. Behind them is the roof of the trading post that was burned down during the Wounded Knee takeover. Taken Oct. 1979. The Gildersleeves hadn't returned to wounded knee after taking a total loss of their home, the trading post and the museum. They had no desires to return but did so to accompany my grandparents.

Left to right: Girlie Clark, Ruby (Joann Feraca's Aunt), Linda (Joann's Cousin), Cecil Edwards (Joann's Uncle). Taken 1970.

Left to right: Elmer Two Two, Clive Gildersleeve, Agnes Gildersleeve, Adrienne Fritz, Jean Fritz, Girlie Clark. Taken 1968.

Left to Right: Agnes Gildersleeve, my grandmother, "Girlie" Amelia Clark (Agnes' sister). Taken 1968.

Could be the Episcopal church Up the Manderson Rd about a 1.5 miles from Wounded Knee. Taken 1965.

I did my best to take recordings from cassette tapes and convert them into a format that I might enable me to share them with the rest of the family. Please use inexpensive speakers as there are occasional loud bursts of sound in the recording.