An amendment to the massive defense policy bill offered by prominent Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren would revoke Medals of Honors awarded to troops of the U.S Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment in what has come to be known as the “Wounded Knee Massacre.”
The fate of the amendment will likely be decided this week as the Senate moves to pass the National Defense Authorization Act before the July 4 holiday.
The amendment is similar to the “Remove the Stain Act” introduced in the House and Senate last November. It would revoke Medals of Honor granted to 20 troops in the Dec. 29, 1890 action, a Senate aide said on background.
Some estimates put the number of Lakota tribe members killed at Wounded Knee on the Pine River Reservation in what was then the new state of South Dakota at 300, most of them women and children.
“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 in November.
The bill had the backing of numerous Indian organizations, including the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the National Congress of American Indians and others.
The proposed legislation was “an important step in beginning to correct our country’s past wrongdoings and in charting a new path forward based on mutual understanding and respect,” Tribal Chairman Charles R. Vig of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community wrote in backing the bill.
“It is shameful to honor soldiers for massacring defenseless men, women and children,” Vig said.
Native American issues have at times been controversial for Warren, who has repeatedly been mocked by President Donald Trump as “Pochahontas” for claiming Native American heritage in the past.
In October of last year, Warren released results of a DNA test that she said showed she had at least one Native American ancestor, but later apologized for taking the test.
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
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