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House members seek to strip Medals of Honor from 20 Wounded Knee Massacre soldiers

House members seek to strip Medals of Honor from 20 Wounded Knee Massacre soldiers


 Three House members have introduced a bill calling on Congress to strip Medals of Honor from 20 soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890  Reps. Denny Heck, Washington Democrat; Deb Haaland, New Mexico Democrat; and Paul Cook, California Republican, introduced the Remove the Stain bill Tuesday  “It bothers me as a professional military person and as a historian … with not only the massacre and the slaughter and with everything that happened to a group of people, but basically to perpetuate a lie that is associated with the highest award we have for valor,” said Mr Cook, a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War.  Ms. Haaland, herself an American Indian, said the trauma and pain of Wounded Knee runs deep among tribal members, as tales of the massacre are passed down to succeeding generations  The legislation, she said, is “a marker and shows that our country is finally on its way to recognizing the atrocities committed against our native communities ”  America’s highest recognition for valor in combat, the Medal of Honor was initiated in 1861, and is presented by the president in the name of Congress More than 3,000 medals have been awarded in nearly 170 years.  During the end of the Indian Wars in 1890, the U S. 7th Cavalry was confiscating firearms from Chief Big Foot’s band on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, when a gunshot sounded Soldiers, armed with mounted artillery, opened fire on the tribe — many of the women and children — killing hundreds More than 30 soldiers died in the 20-minute skirmish.  The legislation would rescind the 20 Medals of Honor that were awarded  Calling Wounded Knee a “tragic chapter” in the nation’s history, Rep. Dusty Johnson, South Dakota Republican, stopped short of supporting the bill  “The Army has reviewed these medals in the past, and I’ve been in conversations to determine whether another review may be warranted,” Mr Johnson said, adding that Medal of Honor recipients today are held to a “tremendously higher standard ”  Descendants of Lakota Sioux who were slaughtered at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, expressed support Tuesday at the U S. Capitol for the Remove the Stain bill. They made the trip from the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River reservations in western South Dakota  In 2001, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe passed a unanimous resolution to rescind the medals The National Congress of American Indians also has said the Wounded Knee medals tarnish the award’s image  In 1990, on Wounded Knee’s centenary, Congress formally apologized for the massacre, which came as the U S. government — in breaking the 1868 Treaty of Laramie — sought to annex the Great Sioux Reservation  In 1996, Sen. John McCain criticized the governmental policies leading up to Wounded Knee as “unjust, unwise, or worse” but declined support for rescinding the medals  “[A] retrospective judgment that the government’s policies and actions were dishonorable does not warrant rescinding the medals awarded to individual soldiers for bravery in a brief, fierce fight,” McCain wrote


Reader Comments

  1. You neglected to mention anything about how the natives were doing a religious ceremony when the military killed them. It was not a gun confiscation, it was a ghost dance.

  2. The ancestors of the colonists (us) can't erase the stain of the pain caused by these massacres. The only thing we the people can do going forward is return their lands to them and repair the environment that has been and is being systematically gutted. Descendants of former slaves have more rights than this continents native peoples. Disgusted. Those medals need to be rescinded.

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