Akim Reinhardt's book, published by the Texas Tech University Press, contains previously
A new examination of the politics of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe has won the Great
Plains Distinguished Book Prize, given by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center
for the Great Plains Studies.
The book, “Ruling Pine Ridge: Oglala Lakota Politics from the IRA to Wounded Knee”
by Akim D. Reinhardt, is published by Texas Tech University Press
Reinhardt’s book is an effort to reinterpret the 20th century political history of
the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
Reinhardt argues that the establishment of the tribal council system under the Indian
Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 may, in a broad sense, have triggered the occupation
at Wounded Knee almost 40 years later, a contention that challenges some earlier
interpretations of Wounded Knee.
Reinhardt believes that the council system of government was never supported by a
large portion of the reservation population.
“Many believe that Wounded Knee was an isolated incident in and of itself that was
orchestrated by outsiders, particularly the American Indian Movement (AIM),” he said.
“I believe that while AIM came to play a large role, once it became a protracted
siege, the initial occupation was really a local, grass-roots protest against the
council system in general and the specific administration of tribal council President
Reinhardt uses previously overlooked materials including tribal council records,
reservation newspapers and interviews with Pine Ridge residents to make his case.
“My research shows that those opposed to the system at times did not participate
in it and at other times actively protested it. Of the many protests that occurred,
the most dramatic of these was Wounded Knee,” he said.
The occupation of Wounded Knee, a town on the Pine Ridge Reservation, began Feb.
27, 1973. Before the occupation ended on May 8, a significant force of local and
federal law enforcement officials were on the scene, two of the occupiers were killed
and a U.S. Marshal had been wounded.
Reinhardt’s interest in Wounded Knee began with his master’s thesis, which dealt
exclusively with the time and issues immediately leading up to the siege. His doctoral
dissertation expanded his research back to the early 1930s and became the basis for
The author says he’s not interested in the award on a personal basis, but hopes it
will bring attention outside of academia to the history of the Lakota people.
“As a modern historian my research focuses on people,” Reinhardt said. “The book
is about the reservation and the people who live there. Many of the people I’m writing
about are still alive. I want to share what I’ve found with the Lakota people and
hope that it can help make a contribution to their lives in some small way by helping
to shine more light on their history.”
For more information contact Barbara Brannon, marketing manager, Texas Tech University Press, (806) 742-2982
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, (806) 742-2136.