Senate

Lawmakers call on Biden to revoke Wounded Knee Medals of Honor

More than a dozen lawmakers called on President Biden to rescind 20 Medals of Honor that were awarded to soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890.

“We ask you to act swiftly to revoke these undue honors—a step that will help right this historical wrong and begin to heal the lasting wounds of many Native American descendants today,” the letter, signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) and 14 other lawmakers, read.

“The Medals of Honor awarded to U.S. Army personnel for their participation in the Wounded Knee Massacre were wrongly bestowed. The actions of these soldiers were not heroic, and allowing them to continue to bear the highest military honor glorifies what should be treated as a shameful episode in our nation’s history,” the lawmakers added.

The lawmakers, however, provided no clear timeline for when they believed the Biden administration should revoke the awards.

“We believe that it is within your authority to confer with the Secretary of Defense and the secretaries of the military departments and revoke these honors when appropriate,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

In late December 1890, as U.S. Army cavalry closed in on a group of members of the Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek, fighting broke out after a shot was fired. While the U.S. Army lost 25 men, between 150 and 300 Native Americans died in the massacre. A group of soldiers who participated in the deadly event received Medals of Honor. 

A similar push to revoke the soldiers’ Medals of Honors was spearheaded by Warren, Merkley and several other lawmakers in 2019 through the introduction of their Remove the Stain Act. That legislation would have also rescinded the soldiers’ Medals of Honor they received in connection with the conflict. 

Legislation that issued a formal apology for the massacre was passed by Congress in 1990, though additional steps have not been taken since then.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Medal of Honor Remove the Stain Act Wounded Knee massacre

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