Twenty US soldiers were awarded Medals of Honor for "gallantry" and "bravery" following the slaughter of hundreds of mostly unarmed Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890. A pair of bills are now seeking to have all those medals revoked. It's "about more than just rescinding Medals of Honor ... it's also about making people aware of this country's history of genocide of American Indians," says Rep. Deb Haaland, among the first female Native Americans elected to Congress; she introduced the bipartisan Remove the Stain Act in June, per the Guardian. On Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley announced the Senate equivalent.
"The massacre of innocents could not be farther from heroism," says Merkley. Indeed, the details accompanying the medals awarded after Wounded Knee appear short on instances of bravery. The Washington Post reports one kitchen hand apparently received a medal for "voluntarily leaving his work as cook." The paper notes the medal was doled out more generously prior to a 1918 review that narrowed the criteria. At that time, more than 900 medals were deleted, but none from Wounded Knee were among the group. Congress formally apologized for the slaughter in 1990. (Read more Wounded Knee stories.)