MANHATTAN, Kan. — Indian activist Russell Means says the confrontation between federal authorities and an armed cult near Waco is similar to an armed standoff 20 years ago between law enforcement officials and Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Means, the keynote speaker Thursday at Kansas State University’s Native American heritage month celebration, told a packed student union room authorities had “no good reason” to attack the Branch Davidians compound outside Waco.

“I’m happy Koresh has the weapons he does,” Means said of cult-leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh. “Why did the government attack him? To search for illegal weapons? Why would the military attack a citizen of the U.S.?”

A member of the audience suggested authorities were trying to enforce the law and investigate allegations of child molestation at Howell’s compound.

“Nowhere in that search warrant does it mention child molestation,” he said. . . “I’m not a fan of Koresh. I’m not a fan of the Branch Davidians. But we all have a right to live without fear of the government.”

For comparison, Means referred to the 1973 confrontation at Wounded Knee between federal authorities and about 200 Indians. The action resulted in two deaths and more than 300 arrests.

The occupation was a protest of federal Indian policies and also a result of a tribal dispute among the Oglala Sioux.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.