Lawmakers Ask Biden to Rescind Medals for Wounded Knee Massacre

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Politics|Lawmakers Ask Biden to Rescind Medals for Wounded Knee Massacre

Seventeen members of Congress said they believed it was wrong President Biden’s authorization to revoke Medals of Honor “when appropriate.”

The cemetery for the victims of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre connected  the Pine Ridge preservation  successful  South Dakota. 
Credit...Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Nov. 3, 2021, 3:50 p.m. ET

More than a twelve members of Congress person called connected President Biden to usage his enforcement authorization to revoke Medals of Honor awarded for the killings of members of the Lakota Sioux tribe, including unarmed women and children, astatine Wounded Knee, S.D., successful the 19th century.

In a missive coordinated by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, 16 Democrats and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, called the awards “a persistent shame connected the nation.” While a measure to rescind the awards appears stalled, the lawmakers said they believed it was wrong Mr. Biden’s authorization “to confer with the caput of defence and the secretaries of the subject departments and revoke these honors erstwhile appropriate.”

“For the families and descendants of those massacred, the revocation of these 20 Medals of Honor would person a profound and lasting interaction — arsenic has the national government’s ongoing prime to let these wrongly bestowed honors to stand,” the lawmakers wrote successful the letter, which was sent Tuesday.

On Dec. 29, 1890, on Wounded Knee Creek connected the Pine Ridge Reservation successful the southwest country of South Dakota, U.S. Army soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed members of the Lakota Sioux tribe, including galore women and children.

That day, U.S. soldiers intercepted Chief Big Foot, person of the Minneconjou Lakota, and his radical connected their mode to the Pine Ridge Reservation. After the Lakota surrendered, the soldiers led them to an encampment. As the soldiers were disarming the Lakota, a changeable was fired, and past the soldiers attacked.

The massacre marked 1 of the bloodiest acts of unit against Native Americans by national forces, and it was the past equipped struggle betwixt them.

In its aftermath, the authorities looked into the behaviour of the troops of the Seventh Cavalry — and decided to grant the medals, the nation’s highest subject commendation, to the soldiers involved.


Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times

Many of the grant citations noted “gallant behaviour successful battle” and “distinguished” oregon “conspicuous” bravery, with fewer details to warrant those characterizations.

To date, the federation has awarded much than 3,500 Medals of Honor, including astir 400 to soldiers who fought successful campaigns against Native Americans. About 900 awards person been rescinded, according to the Medal of Honor Society, astir of which were bestowed during the Civil War. No medals awarded for work successful battles against Native Americans person been revoked.

Earlier this year, the South Dakota State Senate passed a solution calling for Congress to analyse the awarding of the medals. Congress formally apologized for the massacre successful 1990.

Some of those who signed the missive besides took portion successful a legislative propulsion earlier this year. Ms. Warren; Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon; and Representative Kai Kahele, Democrat of Hawaii, led the reintroduction of the Remove the Stain Act, a measure that would revoke Medals of Honor from 20 United States soldiers who took portion successful the massacre astatine Wounded Knee. The measure was work doubly and referred to the Committee connected Armed Services.

“The atrocities against unarmed Lakota men, women, and children astatine Wounded Knee should beryllium condemned, not glorified with our nation’s highest subject honor. Congress should walk the Remove the Stain Act to close this incorrect against Native peoples, but the President tin and should besides usage his authorization to revoke these wrongly conferred medals,” Ms. Warren said.

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