Opinion: Rescind Wounded Knee massacre medals

"On the cold, crisp morning of Dec. 29, 1890, the Sioux Chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers were camped on the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors.

In fear of an Indian uprising, the order went out to arrest Chief Sitting Bull at the Standing Rock Reservation. Sitting Bull was killed in the attempt on Dec. 15. Chief Big Foot was next on the list.

When he heard of Sitting Bull's death, Big Foot led his people south to seek protection at the Pine Ridge Reservation. The army intercepted the band on Dec. 28 and brought them to the edge of Wounded Knee to camp. The next morning the chief, wracked with pneumonia and dying, sat among his warriors and powwowed with the army officers. Suddenly the sound of a shot pierced the early morning gloom. Within seconds, the charged atmosphere erupted as Indian scurried to retrieve their discarded rifles and troopers fired volley after volley into the Sioux camp.

The American public's reaction to the battle at the time generally was favorable. Twenty Medals of Honor were awarded for the action. A decade later, when these were reviewed, Gen. Nelson A. Miles called this a "massacre" and not a battle. Native Americans are calling these "medals of dis-Honor""

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James F. Mitchell: Rescind medals of honor for massacre (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 5/3)