The Buffalo Gap Massacre

In the Shadow of the Seven Stars
Album Background Research

Related song: Ten Miles Down

The Buffalo Gap Massacre
December 10, 1890

Buffalo Gap South Dakota circa 1900
Buffalo Gap, South Dakota, circa 1900

A few weeks before the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, more than 50 young men and women from the Pine Ridge Reservation were massacred by the South Dakota Home Guard at the mouth of French Creek as it enters the Cheyenne River.

The band had gone to Buffalo Gap to hunt at the ranch of a friendly white man they knew. They were greeted with a gun. They were unaware of the events that were transpiring around them. They sensed something wrong and attempted to leave. Because their horses were tired, they had to make camp between French Creek and Battle Creek.

They were massacred in a surprise attack the next morning, December 10. The Lakota refer to the ambush as Buffalo Gap, which points to the origin of the hostility, not the location of the ambush. One young woman managed to escape to tell the story.

Wounded Knee camp after the massacre
Lakota Chief Big Foot’s camp after the Wounded Knee Massacre. Photo by Trager and Kuhn, 1890

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