Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced legislation Wednesday that would revoke 20 Medals of Honor that were awarded to soldiers who participated in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre.

Warren and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said they will introduce the Senate companion to the Remove the Stain Act. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are original co-sponsors of the bill. Harris and Sanders, like Warren, are 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

The legislation was first introduced in the House by Reps. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), one of the two Native American women in Congress.

The massacre took place in 1890 on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota when Army soldiers slaughtered several hundred Lakota Indians, mostly women and children. The Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military honor, is awarded by Congress for “gallantry beyond the call of duty.”

“The horrifying acts of violence against hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee should be condemned, not celebrated with Medals of Honor,” Warren said in a statement. “The Remove the Stain Act acknowledges a profoundly shameful event in U.S. history, and that’s why I’m joining my House colleagues in this effort to advance justice and take a step toward righting wrongs against Native peoples.”

“We have a responsibility to tell the true story of the horrific Wounded Knee Massacre,” added Merkley. “We cannot whitewash or minimize the dark chapters of our history, but instead must remember, reflect on, and work to rectify them. The massacre of innocents could not be farther from heroism, and I hope this bill helps set the record straight.”

Congress passed legislation in 1990 formally apologizing for the massacre, but further action was never taken.

The Remove the Stain Act, which comes after a campaign by indigenous groups for Congress to pass such legislation, has garnered the support of several tribes.

“As President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and on behalf of the people of the Oglala band of Lakota, I want to thank Senator Warren and Senator Merkley for bringing the Remove the Stain Act to the Senate,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. “Our Lakota people have suffered a tremendous loss of hundreds of our relatives at the Wounded Knee Massacre and although Congress apologized for this atrocity in 1990, an apology is meaningless without justice and Senators Warren and Merkley’s bill provides some justice to our people.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Deb Haaland Denny Heck Elizabeth Warren Jeff Merkley Patrick Leahy Paul Cook Ron Wyden

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