Tasunka Ota

From the facebook page–No Medals of Honor for Massacre Participants

I was walking downtown one day here in Sioux Falls, when I saw a historical marker. It told the story of Tasunka Ota, age 21. Tasunka Ota had been away at Carlisle only to return to find his Lakota people not the same. They were being killed off, chased down and this escalated at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. On January 7th 1891, Lt. Casey went to a camp the government had deemed hostile. He was told to turn away because of the unrest and anger and distrust in the younger warriors over Wounded Knee, which was a week earlier. Tasunka Ota put his gun to his soldier and shot and killed him. After a few days he was arrested held in Deadwood, SD. He was convicted of murder by a jury in the state court but picked up by the Army and taken to Sioux Falls, SD for federal trial. When he went to trial later that spring facing execution, his pro bono attorneys asked that the soldiers of the massacre at Wounded Knee also be held accountable for their war crimes. The first jury was deadlocked, half wanted to convict him of manslaughter and the other half murder. He had the same attorneys, same judge, in his second trial. Tasunka Ota was found not guilty because his crime happened while “at war” with the government. He was set free. The government did not want to be held accountable for the massacre at Wounded Knee, so they had no choice, the Cavalry testified for his defense. Just thought I would share his history because you never hear of him. -Dana

Ain’t gotta lie to kick it

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2 thoughts on “Tasunka Ota

  1. (sharing on my FB page) .I have memories of my Grandfather relating stories to me about SW. Minnesota and the horror that went on here. His father and Mother were very afraid of the US government laws about property ownership~they hid the family history,only to die with them. he was ashamed of the 38 plus who were hung in Mankato. I vivdly remember him speaking of it, that is was wrong,it was a terrible injustice. He hated going to Mankato , it was a place he had to go to often for shopping in those days~plus driving to St. Peter for visits to family~ I was very little,it was not until later I realized the history of which he was referring~as teen I studied what I could about it. I found it offensive that our school history was vague and uninformative. I am 60 years old now,I think my grandfather would have been very happy to have seen the 38 plus 2 Riders arrive at Land of Memories Park. I love Minnesota and I want histroy to honor all of our history.

    I love your page Dana~I love it…………

  2. Thank you for sharing the story of Tasunka Ota. It should be shared with stories about Wounded Knee. This can teach our young people that one person can make a difference, as you do with your blog.

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