WASHINGTON ― Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would rescind 20 Medals of Honor awarded to U.S. soldiers who slaughtered hundreds of Lakota Indians — mostly women and children ― in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
Her bill, the Remove the Stain Act, is the Senate version of a bill introduced in the House in June by Democratic Reps. Denny Heck (Wash.), Paul Cook (Calif.) and Deb Haaland (N.M.), one of two Native American women in Congress.
Here’s a copy of the legislation:
“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 cannot whitewash or minimize the dark chapters of our history, but instead must remember, reflect on, and work to rectify them,” Merkley added in the statement. “The massacre of innocents could not be farther from heroism, and I hope this bill helps set the record straight.”
The Medal of Honor is the country’s highest military honor. It is awarded in the name of Congress for “gallantry beyond the call of duty.”
Other groups backing the bill include the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association, the Coalition of Large Tribes, Heartbeat At Wounded Knee 1890, the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre Descendants Society, Four Directions, the Native Organizers Alliance, VoteVets, Veterans for Peace, Common Defense, Veterans for American Ideals and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
Congress has rescinded Medals of Honor before. In 1916, Congress passed legislation to create a board of retired Army officers to review previous Medals of Honor. Congress has since removed more than 900 recipients from the Medal of Honor roll.
This piece has been updated with additional information.