Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-18-2012

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Journalism and Mass Communications, Under the Supervision of Professor Charlyne Berens. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2012

Copyright 2012 Kevin Abourezk


This thesis examines newspaper coverage of the Wounded Knee massacre, which occurred in December 1890, and the takeover of Wounded Knee, S.D., by members of the American Indian Movement in 1973. In 1890, 21 reporters covered the massacre in which 25 soldiers and 250 Indians were killed, while dozens of radio, television and newspaper reporters covered the 1973 siege in which two Indians were killed. Some historians say newspaper coverage leading up to the massacre, including sensational, false stories about Indians attacking settlers, contributed to Indian agent Dr. D.F. Royer’s calling upon the military to suppress a feared Indian rebellion, a decision that led to the massacre at Wounded Knee. The mostly white journalists who covered the massacre largely failed to interview the Indian survivors, many of who couldn’t speak English. In 1973, journalists provided much more balanced coverage of the Indian activists’ and government’s perspectives. The Indians in 1973 actively manipulated the media, and many Indian reporters even covered the event for Indian publications.

Adviser: Charlyne Berens