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Harris, Colleagues Announce Senate Companion to Remove the Stain Act

November 27, 2019

Legislation would revoke Medal of Honor from soldiers who slaughtered hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children at the Wounded Knee massacre 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday joined Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in announcing that they will introduce the Senate companion to the Remove the Stain Act. First introduced in the House by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), and Paul Cook (R-CA), the bill would revoke the Medal of Honor from the soldiers who perpetrated the Wounded Knee massacre on December 29, 1890, when U.S. soldiers slaughtered hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children–most of them unarmed–on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Twenty soldiers in the regiment received the Medal of Honor–the highest military decoration–for their actions at Wounded Knee.

“History must reflect that Wounded Knee was a massacre of hundreds of defenseless Native men, women, and children at the hands of U.S. soldiers,” said Senator Harris. “We will never be able to remove the pain and trauma caused by these acts of violence, but we can continue to fight for justice. Revoking these Medals of Honor is one step forward and I am proud to join my colleagues to address our country’s wrongs.”

As the country’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress for “gallantry beyond the call of duty.” The soldiers’ acts of violence at Wounded Knee were not heroic, but rather tragic and profoundly shameful. The 101st Congress (1989-1990) adopted a concurrent resolution acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the massacre and “expresse(d) its deep regret on behalf of the United States” for the “terrible tragedy.”

Along with Harris, Warren, and Merkley, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are original cosponsors of the bill.

In June 2019, Representatives Heck, Haaland, and Cook introduced the bipartisan Remove the Stain Act as H.R. 3467.

Background on the bill can be found here.

Full bill text can be found here.

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