February 10, 2013 — This week President Obama awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha, for conspicuous gallantry in battle during his service in Afghanistan. We too honor the heroic actions of Sgt Romesha and those of many other recipients of this nation’s highest award for military service—however, we strongly believe the award itself needs to represent true American values, and that medals honoring an American massacre of Native people over a hundred years ago are a stain on that honor.
To proud members of the Lakota nation, and descendants of the Lakota people who were present, wounded or killed during the massacre that American History has wrongly referred to as “The Battle of Wounded Knee”, the Congressional Medal of Honor will remain meaningless. Until the medals are stripped from the soldiers who participated in the brutal killings of hundreds of unarmed women and children … Until the tragic truth is told of the execution of my great-great grandfather Chief Spotted Elk, their elderly leader, too ill to stand, lying beneath a white flag of surrender at Wounded Knee in 1890 … Until the “Battle” streamer legislatively tied to these illegitimate medals is removed from the United States flag (seen as recently as the 2013 Presidential inauguration), then the Congressional Medal of Honor itself is not worthy of the heroic deeds of men like Sgt Clinton Romesha, Lakota Master Sergeant Woody Keeble or any of 25 other Native American recipients of this award.
There is no honor in massacre and it is incomprehensible that 120-years later, this remains unresolved. What happened at Wounded Knee was not worthy of this nation’s highest award for exceptional valor.
According to the rules governing the Medals of Honor, "The deed of the person must be proved by incontestable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses; it must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes his gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery…” But the historical record shows that what happened to our people at Wounded Knee was neither an example of gallantry nor of bravery. General Nelson A. Miles wrote in 1917 that, “… a massacre occurred, not only the warriors but the sick Chief Big Foot, and a large number of women and children who tried to escape by running and scattering over the prarie [sic] were hunted down and killed.”
In the previous twelve years only ten Medals of Honor have been awarded to US soldiers who’ve served in Iraq or Afghanistan—yet almost twenty Medals of “Honor” were awarded to soldiers who brutally massacred women, children, even infants, in the cold snow of South Dakota. How can this be? It’s time to right this wrong so that future generations can live in truth and heal from senseless tragedies like this one. It is time to rescind those medals now, soaked in blood and given in egregious error, and restore the full honor of the Medal once and for all. Daily, Americans pledge allegiance to the U.S. Flag that still waves that “battle” streamer and that is supposed to represent liberty and justice for all. But there has been no justice and without truth and justice, how can we heal the open wound of Wounded Knee?
The healing process takes time but through prayer, acceptance, awareness and forgiveness, it is possible. For many of us, acknowledgment of what happened is at the root of our healing. Many Americans, especially in South Dakota, still hold false beliefs that this was a battle, making true reconciliation between our people very difficult. I pray that something will finally be done and we can reconcile differences through truth, compassion and forgiveness. This call is a first step toward meaningful reconciliation—please sign the petition and share with everyone. Let’s fix this once and for all.
For more information visit: http://www.facebook.com/NoMedalsForMassacres
As representatives of the Minneconjou (and now Oglala), and citizens around the world, we humbly request your support as Commander-in-Chief to assist in the revocation of at least eighteen Medals of Honor, awarded to soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, where between 165 and 300 unarmed native men, women and children were slaughtered. Honoring the authors of this massacre is a smear upon the honor of all, and diminishes the value of the Medal award to others for their legitimate valor and sacrifice. We also need a proper memorial at Wounded Knee, one that contains the correct names of the victims (such as Chief Spotted Elk) and leaves out no one. The House and Senate have already agreed to support such a memorial in prior resolutions, but twenty-three years later, even while Wounded Knee is a National Historic Landmark, nothing has been done.