On This Day in History: May 8

1973A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, site of the infamous massacre of 300 Sioux by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in 1890, ends with the surrender of the militants.

AIM was founded in 1968 by Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and other Native-American leaders as a militant political and civil rights organization.


Their actions were acclaimed by many Native Americans, but on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Oglala Sioux Tribal President Dick Wilson had banned all AIM activities. AIM considered his government corrupt and dictatorial, and planned the occupation of Wounded Knee as a means of forcing a federal investigation of his administration. By taking Wounded Knee, The AIM leaders also hoped to force an investigation of other reservations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and broken Indian treaties.


The Wounded Knee occupation lasted for a total of 71 days, during which time two Sioux men were shot to death by federal agents. One federal agent was paralyzed after being shot. On May 8, the AIM leaders and their supporters surrendered after White House officials promised to investigate their complaints.


In 1975, two FBI agents and a Native-American man were killed in a massive shoot-out between federal agents and AIM members and local residents. In a controversial trial, AIM member Leonard Peltier was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.


The U.S. government took no steps to honor broken Indian treaties, but in the courts some tribes won major settlements from federal and state governments in cases involving tribal land claims.

The Pine Ridge and other Reservations remain incredibly poor. This past winter was especially devastating with record cold, snow and ice. Residents ran out of food, heating fuel and water became an even bigger problem when water mains froze and broke.  

1541Hernando de Soto reaches the Mississippi River and names it Río de Espíritu Santo.

1788 – The French Parlement is suspended to be replaced by the creation of forty-seven new courts.

1792Militia Act establishes conscription under federal law

1794 – Branded a traitor during the Reign of Terror by revolutionists, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who was also a tax collector with the Ferme Générale, is tried, convicted, and guillotined all on the same day in Paris.

1821 – Greek War of Independence: The Greeks defeat the Turks at the Battle of Gravia.

1846 – Mexican-American War: The Battle of Palo Alto – Zachary Taylor defeats a Mexican force north of the Rio Grande in the first major battle of the war.

1861 – American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia is named the capital of the Confederate States of America.

1864Lee beats Grant to Spotsylvania: Yankee troops arrive at Spotsylvania Court House to find the Rebels already there. After the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac marched south in the drive to take Richmond.

1877 – At Gilmore’s Gardens in New York City, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens.

1884 – Harry S. Truman, President of the United States  (d. 1972)

1886 – Pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invents a carbonated beverage that would later be named “Coca-Cola”.

1902 – In Martinique, Mount Pelée erupts, destroying the town of Saint-Pierre and killing over 30,000 people. Only a handful of residents survive the blast.

1906 – Roberto Rossellini, Italian director (d. 1977)

1914 – Paramount Pictures is founded.

1919Edward George Honey first proposes the idea of a moment of silence to commemorate The Armistice of World War I, which later results in the creation of Remembrance Day.

1927 – Attempting to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Paris to New York, French warheroes Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli disappeared after taking off aboard The White Bird biplane.

1933 – Mohandas Gandhi begins a 21-day fast in protest against British oppression in India.

1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea comes to an end with Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft carrier aircraft attacking and sinking the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington. The battle marks the first time in the naval history that two enemy fleets fight without visual contact between warring ships.

1942 – World War II: Gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebel in the Cocos Islands Mutiny. Their mutiny is crushed and three of them are executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.

1945 – Hundreds of Algerian civilians are killed by French Army soldiers in the Sétif massacre.

1945 – [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/5/8 World War II

]: V-E Day, combat ends in Europe. German forces agree in Rheims, France, to an unconditional surrender.

1945 – End of the Prague uprising, today celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

1956  – Henry Ford II leaves post at Ford Foundation

1963 – Soldiers of Catholic South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem open fire on Buddhists defying a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on Vesak, killing nine.

1970Nixon defends invasion of Cambodia: President Nixon, at a news conference, defends the U.S. troop movement into Cambodia, saying the operation would provide six to eight months of time for training South Vietnamese forces and thus would shorten the war for Americans.

1970 – The Hard Hat riot occurs in the Wall Street area of New York City as blue-collar construction workers clash with anti-war demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War.

1972Vietnam War – U.S. President Richard M. Nixon announces his order to place mines in major North Vietnamese ports in order to stem the flow of weapons and other goods to that nation.

1976 – The rollercoaster Revolution, the first steel coaster with a vertical loop, opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

1978 – First ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler.

1980 – The eradication of smallpox is endorsed by the World Health Organization.

1984The Soviet Union announces that it will boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California.

1984 – Corporal Denis Lortie enters the Quebec National Assembly and opens fire, killing three and wounding 13. René Jalbert, sergeant-at-arms of the assembly, succeeds in calming him, for which he will later receive the Cross of Valour.

1987 – The Loughgall ambush: The SAS kills 8 IRA members and 1 civilian, in Loughgall, Northern Ireland.

1988 – A fire at Illinois Bell’s Hinsdale Central Office triggers an extended 1AESS network outage once considered the ‘worst telecommunications disaster in US telephone industry history’ and still the worst to occur on Mother’s Day.

1999 – Nancy Mace becomes the first female cadet to graduate from The Citadel military college.


1926 – David Attenborough, English naturalist, 84

1926 – Don Rickles, American comedian, 84

1928 – Theodore Sorenson, American writer, 82

1937 – Thomas Pynchon, American novelist, 73

1940 – Toni Tennille, American singer, 70

1940 – Emilio Delgado, American actor, 70

1948 – Steve Braun, baseball player, 62

1948 – Stephen Stohn, 62

1950 – Robert Mugge, American music documentary film maker, 60

1951 – Philip Bailey, American singer (Earth, Wind & Fire), 59

1951 – Mike D’Antoni, NBA coach (New York Knicks), 59

1951 – Chris Frantz, American musician (Talking Heads), 59

1953 – Alex Van Halen, Dutch drummer (Van Halen), 57

1953 – Billy Burnette, American singer and guitarist (Fleetwood Mac), 57

1954 – Stephen Furst, American actor, 56

1954 – David Keith, American actor, 56

1956 – Jeff Wincott, Canadian actor, 54

1961 – Janet McTeer, British actress, 49

1964 – Melissa Gilbert, American actress, 46

1964 – Bobby Labonte, American race car driver, 46

1968 – Jamie Summers, American porn star, 42

1975 – Enrique Iglesias, Spanish singer, 35

1985 – Mashio Miyazaki, Japanese actress, 25



  1. PBS had a running series on the American Experience broadcast called We Shall Remain. The 6th episode details the account during the 1971 Wounded Knee standoff.

    The entire series is excellent. It opened my eyes to the “recreated” history we (U.S. non-Natives)  are taught about the genocide of Native Americans.


  2. * Guardians Of the Oglala Nation or GOONS as they were called, were as corrupt a bunch of apples as ever lived.

    Every single thing that happened on the Ridge that day was a Cointelpro set up – the two FBI agents chasing a truck that didn’t exist over a pair of stolen shoes; to firing upon a sleeping encampment to the bullets not matching the gun and them extraditing Myrtle Poor Bear who was mentally handicapped to frame Peltier.

    This is one of the largest travesties of INjustice ever created, and a permanent template used by our government to silence any people’s movement protesting Big Business’s rape of the Land and poisoning of the Population.

    • on May 8, 2010 at 17:11

    I remember when the Makah of Washington state I believe decided to enforce their treaty rights which gave them the right to hunt whales and how hard the government and others fought to prevent them from doing so even though this right was given to them by the U.S. government.

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