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February 27, 2013 06:04 PM

Ceremonial Walk Commemorates Wounded Knee Anniversary

Wounded Knee, SD

Forty years ago, the American Indian Movement took over the village of Wounded Knee. Protesters spoke out against what they called a corrupt tribal government and discriminatory federal practices. On Wednesday, a number of events marked the anniversary including a walk to the spot where it all took place.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, a group of people gathered in the village of Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

"Today, we are here to commemorate the activities that occurred in 1973," AIM supporter Edgar Bear Runner said.

It's one of four groups walking to Wounded Knee. For those in Porcupine, it's an eight mile journey in a wind making it feel much colder than 30.

"Despite the cold temperatures, we walk in their honor and in their memory," Bear Runner said.

"I go back to think about 1890 and what they experience and this cold is nothing to what they experienced," Wounded Knee veteran Donel Keeler said.

The walk is the first of multiple ceremonies honoring those who stood up against the government 40 years ago, many of whom have passed on.

"This is the day we are commemorating those fallen warriors and those warriors who have journeyed on since 1973," Bear Runner said.

"I feel honored to be a part of it but yet, nothing has changed; the religion is gone, people are still suffering, and people are still having a hard time.  I mean, nothing has really changed that much," Wounded Knee veteran Larry Hand Boy said.

As the groups converge on the mass grave for victims of the 1890 massacre, many marchers hope their struggles aren't forgotten by the younger generation.

"It means a lot to a lot of people because of the reasons that we fought and the reasons that we are here today, so our children can keep living in our country as a free people," Keeler said.

A pow wow and traditional feast honor the veterans of Wounded Knee on Wednesday night.  The 1973 occupation lasted for 71 days and ended with two AIM activists dead, one missing, and left a U.S. Marshal paralyzed.

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