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U.S. Rep. Heck introduces bill to rescind Wounded Knee Massacre medals

In a press conference Tuesday morning, U.S. Representatives Denny Heck (WA-10), Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced legislation – the Remove the Stain Act — to rescind the 20 Medals of Honor awarded for actions at the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre.

The Wounded Knee Massacre took place on December 29, 1890 on what is now the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. On that date, soldiers with the 7th Calvary killed hundreds of Native American men, women, and children.

The Representatives were joined by members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who shared their stories and their support for  rescinding the Medals of Honor.

During the press conference, Rep. Heck explained his reverence for those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, but that those that were given the honor for actions at the Wounded Knee Massacre did not deserve that respect. 

“We’re here today for two reasons. We are here today to honor those who are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and we are here today, hopefully, to take a step in the healing that was a consequence of this horrific slaughter and massacre… We are here today because we think that the descendants of those who were present and all associated deserve some healing and deserve this recognition that what happened then was not right. We’re 129 years late, but we still can act,” said Heck.

Rep. Deb Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. During the press conference, Haaland noted the significance of the bill: 

“This bill is particularly significant because it’s a marker that shows that our country is finally on its way to acknowledging and recognizing the atrocities committed against our Native communities.”