On December 29, troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over the rifle ensued, causing several Lakota to draw their weapons and open fire on the cavalry regiment. By the time the battle was over, more than 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded. 25 soldiers also died, and 39 were wounded.
The massacre left 150 Native Americans dead. This was the final clash between federal troops and the Sioux. In 1973, members of the Sioux tribe occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days to protest conditions on the reservation.
On December 15, 1890, reservation police tried to arrest Sitting Bull, a Sioux chief, who they believed was a Ghost Dancer, and killed him in the process, increasing the tensions.