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Lawmakers move to revoke Medals of Honor from soldiers who fought at Wounded Knee

Medal of Honor (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
July 21, 2022

U.S. House lawmakers moved to posthumously revoke Medals of Honor awarded to 20 soldiers who took part in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre – a battle during which an estimated 250 Native Americans and more than 30 soldiers died.

Last week, an amendment entitled “Remove the Stain,” which sought to rescind the medals, was added to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The House subsequently approved the bill on a vote of 329-101.

“As a native Hawaiian serving on the House Armed Services Committee, I believe it is my duty to bring attention to the generational trauma and concerns of indigenous communities,” Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), who proposed the amendment said in a statement announcing the amendment’s approval. “We must remind ourselves of the uncomfortable truth that this land, the United States, was taken from indigenous peoples.”

Twenty soldiers from the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment were awarded Medals of Honor for their roles in the massacre, which occurred on Dec. 29, 1890 on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Wounded Knee Creek.

At the time, the U.S. government wanted to annex the Great Sioux Reservation in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Laramie.

Lawmakers have proposed action to revoke these Medals of Honor for several years, but have been unsuccessful. It’s not yet clear if the amendment will clear the Senate’s final version of the NDAA.

Twitter users were divided over the move to rescind the medals, with some expressing support for the decision and others suggesting it’s a divisive waste of time.

“Hard to think of a more needlessly divisive and pointless act than rescinding medals of valor from over a century ago,” tweeted Fox News reporter Timothy H.J. Nerozzi.

“Inflation and crime are out of control, gas prices still too high, border not secure, police and military are at dangerously low levels and Lawmakers are focused on rescinding Medals of Honor from soldiers long dead! Focus on the now!” tweeted William Cutcher, a self-described veteran and congressional hopeful.

“I’m not defending the wounded knee massacre. But if the Medal of Honor soldiers were following orders and didn’t violate the law, they shouldn’t be dishonored,” Twitter user Larry Legg wrote. “Lawmakers seek to rescind Medals of Honor from soldiers who carried out Wounded Knee massacre.”

“This should happen. There is no heroism in a massacre of innocents. Will it? Similar legislation has been knocked down in the past by . . . Who else???  #WoundedKnee #MedalOfHonor #SiouxNation,” politician Bob Krause tweeted.