* Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Eight decades after the famous Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, when approximately 300 Lakota Sioux Indians were massacred by U.S. Army troops, another group of armed Indians occupied the same site in February 1973. They were protesting federal policies toward Native Americans, as well as challenging local tribal leadership. The occupation, which lasted 71 days, resulted in two Indian deaths, the wounding of an FBI agent and more than 300 arrests. It also heightened national awareness of Native American issues, and reform legislation quickly followed. An excerpt from The Post of March 12, 1973:
By F. Richard Ciccone
WOUNDED KNEE, S.D., March 11 (AP)
An FBI agent was wounded during a new exchange of gunfire at Wounded Knee today, 24 hours after federal authorities had reached a peace agreement with Indians and withdrawn an armed roadblock. ...
A federal lawman said the agent, identified as Curtis Fitzgerald, was shot just above the wrist while sitting in his car at a checkpoint on a road seven miles northwest of Wounded Knee, a tiny village that militant Indians have held for almost two weeks.
The spokesman said the injured agent's partner fired five shots through the windshield at a fleeing vehicle. The car's windshield had one incoming bullet hole on the passenger side and five outgoing bullet holes on the driver's side.
Dennis Banks, a leader of the American Indian Movement, said some of his followers in a van were fired upon. He said his men returned the fire.
"I think the FBI was attempting to provoke the situation," Banks said. The rear windows of the van were smashed by bullets, he said, but none of the men inside was struck.
[In Washington, Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst reminded FBI agents that their written instructions ordered them not to fire their weapons unless their lives are in imminent danger. He urged them to use the "utmost restraint," according to the Justice Department.] ...
The shooting report followed a charge by the Indians that the government was trying to "discredit" the peace pact by infiltrating federal agents into the village.
Four men who the Indians said claimed to be postal inspectors were held under armed guard about two hours before being escorted from the hamlet with their hands above their heads.
The Indians have said they intend to remain in the village indefinitely. ...
Indians said they confiscated sidearms from the men, including four .38-caliber pistols, ammunition and several handcuffs.
This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com
NOTE: Due to a production error, yesterday's and today's Century in The Post pages were transposed. Here is the page which should have run for March 12.