Captain Richard H. Pratt's dream; "Convert him in all ways but color into a white man, and, in fact, the Indian would be exterminated, but humanely, and as beneficiary of the greatest gift at the command of the white man - his own civilization." (Characterization of Carlisle Indian School founder Richard H. Pratt's philosophy)
After the November 29, 1864 massacre of Native Americans at Sand Creek, no one ever thought the U.S. Army could ever commit such an atrocity like it again. (watch a 13:27 video about Sandcreek by clicking here) But 26 years later the United States did the unthinkable. And in doing so our nation was viewed by the rest of the world as a country full of prejudiciouses and racism.
Wounded Knee a few days after the massacre - dead horses and indians visable
The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the reservation lands. On June 25, 1876, the between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Nation with their allies Cheyenne and Araphoes at Greasy Grass, Montana took place. The Sioux Nation won a victory over General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The Sioux scattered, some to Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and hungry and moved on the reservations.
The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota / Dakota people and today considered an important part of their spiritual lives. A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills, the center of the Sioux Nation and found gold in the Black Hills. The Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and the Sioux who opposed this violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to buy or rent the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Great Sioux Nation refused to sell or rent their sacred lands.
The massacre at Wounded Knee pretty much ended any and all hostilities between indian and white man with white man taking nearly all lands that were once sacred native American homes.
US soldiers under the command of James Forsyth opened fire on unarmed Lakota. Using cannons as well as rifles they basically executed 84 men, 44 women, and 18 children and wounded many, many more, seven of whom died soon after the attack.
(The following is quoted from Wikipedia) The Brulé are one of the seven branches or bands (sometimes called "sub-tribes") of the Teton (Titonwan) Lakota American Indian people. They are known as Sičháŋǧu Oyáte (in Lakota), or "Burnt Thighs Nation", and so, were called Brulé (literally "burnt") by the French. The name may have derived from an incident where they were fleeing through a grass fire on the plains. In 1841 La Madeleine Melissa Defond was born. She was the daughter of Samuel Baptiste Defond, a half Sioux half French imigrant hunter and Miniokewin of the Lower Brule Tribe of the Sioux Indian Nation in South Dakota. Click here to view a pdf of a listing from the South Dakota Historical Collections(some facts are not accurate in the listing). Sometime around the  late 1850's or very early 1860's Benjamin Estes married Melissa and they had eight children together.  Their daughter Elizabeth was born March 2, 1863. 
Click below to read a list of Lakota Phrases page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4
1770s: The Lakota move to the Black Hills, divide into seven bands, and disperse throughout the region. 1804: The Lakota meet the Lewis and Clark expedition. Trading posts are established in their territory. 1851: Conquering Bear, a Brulé Lakota chief, signed the Fort Laramie Treaty which defined boundaries of Lakota territories and marke the beginning of westward movement by miners and wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. 1866–68: Red Cloud leads a successful fight to close Bozeman Trail, which leads through Lakota hunting grounds to the gold mines of Montana. 1868: The U.S. government gives up its claim to Lakota lands, including the Black Hills, in the Second Fort Laramie Treaty. 1874: Gold is discovered in the Black Hills; prospectors pour in. 1876: Lakota warriors defeat Lieutenant Colonel George Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. 1890: Sitting Bull is murdered. U.S. troops kill more than three hundred Lakota men, women, and children in the Massacre at Wounded Knee. 1973: American Indian Movement (AIM) activists occupy Wounded Knee and engage in a seventy-one-day standoff with government agents. 1980: The Lakota are awarded $105 million for the wrongful taking of their territory. They refuse to accept the money. 2007: Activists declare themselves the Republic of Lakotah, an independent nation from the United States.
The brutality and cruelty came in the form of “punishments” given so Pratt and his staff could literally force the “indian way of life” completely out of the children. The idea was to destroy any trace of indian in the children and assimilate them into the white mans’ world. The destruction of native languages was  one of Pratt's main objectives. Children began English lessons as soon as they arrived at Carlisle. Students were punished, sometimes severely, if caught speaking their native languages, even in private. Punishments included beatings, incarserations and starvation.
Here we will trace some of the history of the Lower Brule Tribe. As part of the Sioux Nation, our ancestors have a very important and fascinating past. Their heritage has seen brutality by settlers and soldiers throughout the early years of America. But the Sioux Indians have survived and continue to thrive even now.     
Early Lakota Woman
There are many Native American legends about Devil’s Tower from several different tribes. But being as we are listing information about the Lakota Sioux we will tell the legend they believe to be true. The following is taken directly from the National Park Service Web Site “DEVILS TOWER” In the Lakota tribe long ago was a brave warrior who often went alone into the wilderness where he would fast and worship the Great Spirit in solitude. Being alone helped him to strengthen his courage so that in the future he could carry out his plans. One day this warrior took his buffalo skull and went along into the wilderness to worship. Standing at the base of Mato Tipila after he had worshipped for two days he suddenly found himself on top of this high rock. He was very much frightened as he did not know how he would get down. After appealing to the Great Spirit he went to sleep. When he awoke he was very glad to find that he was again at the base of this high rock. He saw that he was standing at the door of a big bear's lodge as there was foot prints of a very big bear there. He could tell that the cracks in the big rock were made by the big bear's claws. So he knew that all the time he had been on top of this big rock he had been standing on a big bear's lodge. From this time on his nation called this big high rock Mato Tipila and they went there often to worship. The buffalo skull is still on top of this big high rock and can be seen on the highest point. This legend told to Dick Stone by Short Bull, who lived a short distance west of Oglala, South Dakota, on July 31, 1932. Mark Running Eagle, Interpreter.
Current Historical marker at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Devils Tower Late 1800's Lakota Camp Matȟó Wayúhi ("Conquering Bear") (1800 – August 19, 1854) Red Cloud (Lakota: Maȟpíya Lúta) (1822 – December 10, 1909) was one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota. He led from 1868 to 1909 Sitting Bull - 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota leader who led his people during years of resistance to  United States government policies. Carlisle Indian School logo
The Allotment Act of 1887 allotted Indian lands into 160 acre tracts to individual  heads of households and 80 acres to adult males which further divided the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations, the remainder of which  exist today at about one half their original size in 1889.
The Legend of  Devil’s Tower  Lakota Legends
Although Roby Pennell, son of Elizabeth is not listed as a student at Carlisle School, five of his seven siblings were students at the school. The siblings were  Bessie, Finley, Florence, Lee Hobson and Lottie  (click each to view their school records).   A big thanks to Barbara Landis and her Carlisle Indian School Web Site for this information. Please visit her site for more info.
Students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Carlisle Students in School Uniform Exercising Inside Gymnasium; Some with Indian Clubs, Others with Gymnastic Equipment; Non-Native Group Watching, 1879. Three Lakota boys on their arrival at the Carlisle Indian School
Students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Photo courtesy of Tribal Emblem
The Lakota People were part of this close-knit web of life on the prairies.  However for the northern plains, and for the Lakota, life changed drastically with the arrival of settlers in the 1800s.  Soon the great herds of  bison and many other wildlife species were gone.  Native prairie was broken and farmed.  Fences were erected and cattle replaced bison.  The Lakota were interned on reservations, already suffering the consequences of broken treaties.
She was the third of the eight children. Before her, there were two brothers, John, who died at ten years old and Charles who only lived  to be two. This made Elizabeth the oldest of the remaining children. At about seven, she was sent to North Carolina from the Lakota lands in South Dakota with her grandparents Lot and Chaney Green Estes. There she remained the rest of her life.  She married Ben Pennell. She never forgot her Lakota heritage. Her granddaughter was Emma Pennell Shew, the  matriarc of our branch of the Shew family.
The government  still insisted buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Sioux (Lakota) Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United States Government introduced the Sell or Starve Bill or the Agreement of 1877, which illegally took the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation retains their land base in accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.  
Custers Last Stand Genealogy researched at Devil’s Tower The same three Lakota boys begin the process of deculturization at the Carlisle Indian School LAKOTA CONNECTIONS LAKOTA CONNECTIONS
At one time The Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the west side of Wisconsin and from Canada in the North to the Republican River in the south. The Great Sioux Nation was reduced in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty from the Big Horn mountains in the west to the east bank of the Missouri River, including parts of North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. This includes all of western South Dakota in the middle of the treaty lands.
Lower Brulé Reservation along the Missouri River Lower Brule Reservation along the Missouri River Important Dates from Lakota History Prayer for the White Man
Native Americans...the first true Americans found all their lands stolen by what today we refer to as immigrants or migrants.
Click here to view a 17 minute video clip about the Wounded Knee Massacre and the infamous “Ghost Dance”
Wounded Knee Memorial Mass burial of victims of Wounded Knee Massacre Tribal Dance
[ View Guestbook ] [ Sign Guestbook]
Free Guestbook by
Visit the Wounded Knee Museum Web Site Visit the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Web Site Visit the Sioux Indian Web Site
What was done to the indian is one of the big shames of America that can never truly be resolved. In many parts of this country Native Americans are still treated as outcasts when they are the only true Americans. The actions of our past are left to the ages now and will only be judged by “The Great Spirit”.
Wounded Knee Cemetery Home Home Family Tree Family Tree Ancestry Tree Ancestry Tree Family Histories Family Histories Links Links Photos Photos Videos Videos Family Memorial Family Memorial Contact Contact Sand Creek massacre site Wounded Knee hill, location of Hotchkiss guns during massacre and subsequent mass grave of victims.
Click here to view a video clip of the Wounded Knee Massacre as depicted in the 2005 Steven Speilberg / TNT Miniseries “INTO the WEST”
Lakota children were taken from their homes and families and sent east to boarding schools. The first and most well known of these schools was the Carlisle School where white man attempted to force any trace of indian out of them. These schools were brutal and cruel and the children hated what  was being  done to them but the U.S. government left them no choice. The brainchild of Richard H. Pratt, Carlisle, which opened in 1879 in central Pennsylvania, became the focus by which several other similar schools were modeled.
It was one of the most horrific acts ever committed by a “civilized” America...the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek (called Cankpe Opi Wakpala by the Lakota) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. 
Native Americans...the first true Americans found all their lands stolen by what today we refer to as immigrants or migrants.
Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Oglala Lakota chiefs (l to r) - Black Bear, Hard Heart, Little Wound, Lone Bear, Black Bird, High Hawk, Jack Red Cloud, Shot in the Eye, Conquering Bear, Last Horse. 1899. Photo by Heyn Photo. Source - National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Devil’s Tower Victims of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre
Today is a sad and hard time. At the time of Dec 29th, 1890. They tried to wipe us out at Wounded Knee. They killed women, children and also babies.
But we are Lakota and we are strong and we still remember. And so this day is a memorial. The people will live into the future
Band of Sioux Warriors  c 1898 The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is part of the Great Sioux Nation as the Kul Wicasa of the Sicangu Oyate. Copyright© 2002-2023 All Rights Reserved Home Home Family Tree Family Tree Ancestry Tree Ancestry Tree Family Histories Family Histories Links Links Photos Photos Videos Videos Family Memorial Family Memorial Contact Contact