In a fascinating book, What Happened to Wounded Knee (Flamarion), archaeologist Laurent Olivier traces the massacre at Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, in 1890, which remains a wound in memory today. This is the symbolic place occupied in 1973 by militants of the American Indian movement, surrounded by the police and the FBI for seventy-three days: there will be one dead person. Even today, every year, a horse parade commemorates the many women and children who were the victims of this massacre. Interview.
You are an archaeologist, but originally a specialist in Gaul. What made you interested in Native American history?
There are common points between the Gauls and the American Indians. The Gauls were a warrior and dominant people, defeated by a superior power, Rome, who made their institutions, religion, and language disappear. Until erased by complete assimilation. The rest of them, in the collective imagination, is the image of a sympathetic rebel: Asterix, Obelix, the Destroyer, Fresengytorix.
“Who will I be able to speak my language with now?” “A report among the American Indians, decimated by Covid
The American Indians, also summed up in a few colorful images – feathered headdresses, red skins, teepees … – are a group of peoples who have been forced into defeat, and whose culture and language have been virtually exterminated.
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