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House Approves Taking Medals of Honor Away from Wounded Knee Murderers

A couple years ago, freshman Congressman Dusty Johnson said that rescinding the Medals of Honor given to the Seventh Cavalry for slaughtering women and children at Wounded Knee in 1890 was “an aggressive act” that lacked enough nuance and basis in fact to help the country “move forward” from that awful historical error.

Now second-term Congressman Johnson has apparently moved past that position. When he cast his vote for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 on Thursday, his vote also helped pass an amendment to that sprawling bill incorporating the Remove the Stain Act, which would revoke those twenty ill-gotten medals:

The Remove the Stain Act was reintroduced in March of this year by Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), a Native Hawaiian citizen, along with several co-sponsors including Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), a tribal citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

…“The Wounded Knee massacre was one of the deadliest attacks on Native American people in history. It shouldn’t be remembered with honor or prestige for the perpetrators, but rather with compassion for the men, women, and children whose lives were taken,” Davids said to Native News Online. “The Remove the Stain Act is a step towards righting a tragic wrong and, hopefully, helping families start or continue to heal from that generational trauma” [staff, “‘Remove the Stain Act’ Moves Forward as House Passes Defense Bill,” Native News Online, 2021.09.24].

The revocation of those massacre medals moves along with the NDAA to the Senate, where we’ll get to see if Senator Mike Rounds has matured along with Representative Johnson and moved past his own resistance to righting this historical wrong.

13 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2021-09-25

    President Biden can rescind these citations with the stroke of his pen if this thing fails in Congress so why he’s not already done it remains a mystery. He’s inexplicably dragging his feet on executive clemency for Leonard Peltier, too.

  2. Porter Lansing 2021-09-25

    Find the descendants of the soldiers and officers who received the M.O.H. for their actions at Wounded Knee.

    Inquire whether, if they know that they’re descendants of M.O.H. recipients, they’re ashamed, indifferent, proud or another impression.

  3. ArloBlundt 2021-09-25

    Well…The Medal of Honor was awarded before WWI based om much different criteria than today’s Medal of Honor is awarded. In that period there was no Bronze or Silver Star for bravery in combat and the Medal of Honor was awarded much more liberally. As to whether the Medals of Honor were deserved at all read Robert Utley’s excellent “The Last Days of the Great Sioux Nation” written in the 50’s but still in print or Rex Allen’s more recent “Moon of the Popping Trees.” Both are well documented accounts of the Wounded Knee tragedy. To my mind, it was a case of Native American desperation and US Military ineptness.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-09-25

    They were of their times. Teddy Roosevelt was right with them. Just read what he said about Native Americans. He’s carved on the mountain, along with Jefferson who slept with his slaves. That was denied until DNA, so there you go. The father of our country went after an escaped slave, a woman for decades, and he didn’t free his slaves at death the way it is said. Lincoln, better but he still would have approved of segregation. I guess a little footnote at Mt. Rushmore would do. I could cast it in bronze, but you’d have to include the KKK boy Borglum who supervised the carving. I still get moved by the piece, but when your mind kicks in it’s not what it seems to be at all.

  5. ArloBlundt 2021-09-25

    It has come to my attention that the South Dakota Historical Society Press has (or will soon) print a compilation of first hand accounts of the Wounded Knee tragedy written by the Sioux survivors. I believe a priest at the Holy Rosary Mission collected these memoirs soon after the event. This makes historical sense as the mission became a sanctuary for tribe members trying to escape the random violence which took place before and after the slaughter of Broken Leg’s band at Wounded Knee.The Indians killed at Wounded Knee were not from Pine Ridge but from Standing Rock. They had fled their reservation after Sitting Bull had been killed by Indian Police near what is now Bullhead on the Standing Rock reservation.(Corson County)

  6. Korey Jackson 2021-09-26

    It does seem a bit of legislative sleight-of-hand to insert H.R. 2226 / Senate 1073 into, at a late minute in September with a fiscal cliff looming, the Defense Authorization Act.

    Without ever appearing before a hearing of a House or Senate Committee.

    Did the House members have the benefit of any formal comments from the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army?

    Arlo, I look forward to that SDHSP compilation. We might do well to review a compilation of ALL extant first hand accounts of the 1889 Wounded Knee tragedy, including not only the Lakota survivors, but also the members of the Army (including native Army scouts), and civilians.

    Cory, I was unsuccessful in my scan through this article’s links to
    the Defense Authorization Act; I could not find the inclusion or incorporation of HR 2225. There is a discussion of reviewing WW1 Medal of Honor recipients.

  7. Sion G. Hanson 2021-09-26

    The US Army had over 2 million men in uniform during the American Civil War. Immediately after the the war, the numbers dropped below 30,000. The career soldiers that remained were sent west. The violence that they had survived during the war had hardened them into violent men. The trauma of PTSD, while more understood today than 130 years ago, was unleashed on the band of desperate natives. Custers demise 15 years prior was a factor in the 7th Cavalry exacting their revenge at Wounded Knee. Indeed, the criteria for the Medal of Honor was different in 1890 than in forthcoming years. But I believe that rescinding the medals today would be a step in the right direction for bolstering race relation improvements.

  8. cibvet 2021-09-26

    There has been a lot of justifications given for the massacre at Wounded knee. None of these absolve the genocidal policies
    that were carried out by the US politicians with the complicity of the US Army. There can be no excuses for this travesty and many others committed against all the non-whites of this country. Admit the wrongs, remember history so as to not repeat the mistakes and rescind the medals. There should have been court martials for this atrocity.

  9. Jon Brings 2021-09-26

    My friend, Van Buffalo’s Grandfather, Guy Buffalo, survived Wounded Knee as a 1 year old! (first Lakota pastor in South Dakota). Thats his Grampa, People! (and Bigfoot was Guy Buffalos Grampa)! This is not that long ago.

    Van comes over every day and He is my best friend! Van wants more than anything to ride the Bigfoot Ride and I will take him when we can go.

    Many Bigfoot followers were picked up when they passed through Cheyenne River Rez. This was not a small group but hundreds of people massacred and chased for miles across the open prairie. For years afterwards they hid and were afraid to tell anybody they were even there, for fear of reprisals. Nonetheless reprisals were coming after them. White people were in charge and let them know it. Indians on every Rez suffered/survived for decades on poorly fed, undernourished beef from swindlers, scalawags and carpetbaggers. Indians were taken advantage of and shorted all around (and still are today). The Eli Ricker interviews were done years after the event, when peoples memories had faded. Many survivors had multiple wounds and emotional distress and many died years afterward from those wounds. You can imagine the PTSD and wounded in the communities!. The fear still exists today. The PTSD has been generational. Their relatives are on every reservation. Mitakuye Oyasin, Jon Brings Three White Horses-Dakota Historical Researcher

  10. Jon Brings 2021-09-26

    I think Broken Leg was Rosebud…Was He there?

  11. ArloBlundt 2021-09-26

    John–pardon me, I meant Bigfoot…another sign of my age…I think they call it approximate thinking…I apologize

  12. Donna Fisher 2021-09-26

    So much sadness. Read Richardson’s Wounded Knee.

  13. Lottie 2021-09-27

    My grandmother(my dads mom) was living in the Wounded Knee district as a child. All she could recall was running with her grandma and maybe her granny getting wounded. Yeah our grandma lived with us after grampa passed. When i think about the massacre it hits home.

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