As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation, we’re aware that it could have an outsized impact on Indian Country. Relief programs may not provide needed tests and medical supplies for us — or anyone — on an appropriate scale. Please know we are monitoring this, and as my colleague Chase Iron Eyes mentioned a few days ago, we’ll keep you updated on developments. May we all stay safe and healthy.
In the meantime, I write with some wonderful news. Just yesterday, Standing Rock won a big victory in the ongoing legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline when a federal judge granted the tribe’s request to strike down DAPL’s federal permits!
The judge ruled that Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) — the much more comprehensive review we’ve all been demanding since the beginning of this movement (and that President Obama required, only to be reversed by Trump). The Corps fell short in three specific ways, according to the judge.
First, the Corps failed to respond adequately to claims by the tribe’s experts that DAPL’s leak detection system is wholly inadequate. Second, the company’s dreadful history of oil spills wasn’t properly addressed. Finally, the oil company failed to account for the adverse repercussions a “worst case discharge” might have on our treaty rights — our ability to hunt, fish, and perform traditional religious ceremonies near Lake Oahe, which the pipeline crosses under.
I was asked by the tribal chairman to represent Standing Rock’s interests at the hearing in Washington, D.C., but I couldn’t go because of Coronavirus travel restrictions. I’m gratified that, despite our troubles, we have been victorious, at least for now.
The logic of the judge’s ruling suggests the pipeline should not remain operational without a federal permit. The ruling actually references both the Titanic and Chernobyl concerning the possibility of human error, and I’m hopeful shutting down the flow will be the judge’s next step. He has now requested legal briefs on that issue.
Please stay tuned, as we hope to share more good news soon. In the meantime, stay safe and please listen to the medical professionals with knowledge about the requirements of this pandemic. We’re all in this together.
Wopila tanka — as always, we’re so grateful to you for standing with Standing Rock and Mother Earth.
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.
Thousands of water protectors and allies spent weeks at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota in 2016 to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo: Reuters)
A federal judge handed down a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota on Wednesday, ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving federal permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The USACE must complete a full environmental impact study of the pipeline, including full consideration of concerns presented by the Standing Rock Tribe, the judge ruled. The tribe has asked the court to ultimately shut the pipeline down.
The court chastised the USACE for moving ahead with affirming the permits in 2016 and allowing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) crossing the Missouri River after President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017, without considering the expert analysis put forward by the tribe.
“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win. It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”
—Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
The Standing Rock Sioux had raised concerns regarding the likelihood and danger of potential oil spills, DAPL’s leak-detection system, and the safety record of Sunoco Logistics, the company behind the pipeline. Sunoco “has experienced 276 incidents resulting in over $53 million in property damage from 2006 to 2016” and has “one of the lowest performing safety records of any operator in the industry,” the tribe’s experts found.
The federal ruling “validates everything the Tribe has been saying all along about the risk of oil spills to the people of Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman in a statement. “The Obama administration had it right when it moved to deny the permits in 2016, and this is the second time the court has ruled that the government ran afoul of environmental laws when it permitted this pipeline. We will continue to see this through until DAPL has finally been shut down.”
DAPL and the fight against the pipeline was the subject of international attention in 2016 when thousands of water defenders gathered at camps in North Dakota, facing a highly militarized police force armed with tanks, riot gear, rubber bullets, and other weapons.
Since Trump reversed former President Barack Obama’s December 2016 order denying the permits and allowed the construction to be completed in June 2017, the tribe has challenged the permits and demanded the USACE conduct a full environmental analysis.
Wednesday’s ruling represented a “huge victory” for the tribe, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted.
“Such thanks to all who fight!” he wrote.
“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet. Perhaps in the wake of this court ruling the federal government will begin to catch on, too, starting by actually listening to us when we voice our concerns.”
Others on social media celebrated the victory and applauded the “tireless efforts” of the campaigners, with the East Bay Democratic Socialists of America calling the decision the “absolute best possible outcome” of the court battle.
“This is why we never stop fighting,” Earthjustice president Abbie Dillen said.
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One hundred miles to the west of the proposed mine site is Bristol Bay, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery
Governmental agencies and tribes are reviewing a proposal to develop a huge mine in Alaska. The Pebble project would be the largest mine in North America and one of largest in the world. The open pit mine would be 2,500 feet, or 7.5 city blocks, long, and 13,000 feet, or 229 stories, deep. The project would include a transportation corridor, a port, a natural gas pipeline, and a heap of waste rock, or tailings, that reach 700 feet, or 64 stories, high.
It will take a large mine to dig up and process massive amounts of rock containing small amounts of valuable minerals. To get at the precious metals, which are valued at $345 to $500 billion, more than a billion tons of ore would be processed at the rate of 180,000 tons per day for 20 years. The Pebble Limited Partnership estimates the proposed site holds 67 million ounces of gold, 50 billion pounds of copper, and 3.3 billion pounds of molybdenum.
One hundred miles to the west of the proposed mine site is Bristol Bay, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery. The fish return annually to the region’s multitude of rivers, lakes, streams and estuaries to spawn then die.
Alaska Natives have relied on salmon for thousands of years. It’s a major source of protein, and the mainstay of a way of life. The Yup’ik culture in the area has long revolved around fishing and sharing and preserving the harvest. The fishery is now also important to the thousands of people involved in the commercial harvest of salmon. In 2019, commercial fishermen harvested 43 million sockeye salmon valued at $306.7 million, the most in the history of the Bristol Bay fishery.
Seventeen miles from the proposed Pebble mine site is the village of Iliamna, with a population of 109. Leaders there want a seat at the table but remain neutral on the Pebble project itself. Fishermen, tribes, and other villages have come out in opposition. Among other issues, they’re concerned contaminated wastewater will seep through porous soils to the rivers that support salmon.
The prospect of the Pebble mine going forward worries Iliamna villager Louise Anelon, Yup’ik. “There’s a lot of things to worry about for me, as somebody that’s just so used to how it’s going, to how it is right now versus this project and all this noise and people and moving a lot of ground,” Anelon said. “Water could be affected and it’s just lots to worry about for me.”
Plus she said Pebble is coming on top of the effects of climate change: hotter, windier weather; fewer caribou; and late salmon runs. Analon said, “There’s a lot of stuff happening that we can’t see to the eye.
“Then we have this Pebble thing that’s potentially going to happen and that’s a two-time whammy,” Analon said. “I just am afraid for that to happen with so many changes already happening …. we know it’s going to be giving jobs to folks but it’s going to change our land, water, everything, forever. So that’s just my concern right there.
Still, Analon understands the position of many mine supporters. “No job opportunities, I think that’s what most of the folks out here are seeing,” Analon said.
On Feb. 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is coordinating review of the permit applications, issued a preliminary final Environmental Impact Statement for a 45-day review period. This impact statement builds on and responds to comments made on a draft issued by the Corps last year. The preliminary final environmental impact statement was sent to regulatory agencies and tribes; it is not available to the public or the media.
Public interest in the Pebble project is high, and the amount of public input is enormous. Some 105,000 comments on the draft environmental impact statement were submitted. The list of agencies with oversight is long. And criticism of the draft environmental impact statement was widespread.
Some of the phrases about the draft environmental impact statement that cropped up in agency comments include: “lacks certain critical information,” or “substantial deficiencies and data gaps,” “provides inadequate support for several assumptions,” “underestimates impacts,” “would benefit from being corrected, strengthened or revised.”
One even calls the draft environmental impact statement “so inadequate as to preclude meaningful analysis.”
Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, title to land was transferred to Native corporations to make money and issue dividends to shareholders. It’s unusual for a Native corporation to oppose resource development. Yet, the Alaska Native for-profit Bristol Bay Native Corporation came out in opposition to the proposed Pebble mine.
It said the proposal is flawed and deficient, but “… enough is known about the potential impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine project to conclude that it cannot be constructed in a way that would not cause significant adverse effects to Bristol bay and its fisheries.” Moreover, the project would “pose too great a risk to our Native way of life and the cultural, subsistence, economic, and ecological resources of the Bristol Bay Region.”
The Native corporation went on to say that it will “not extend to the Pebble Limited Partnership any permission to occupy or trespass our lands or make use of our subsurface resources.”
The rider said adverse impacts to Alaska’s world-class salmon fishery and to the ecosystem of Bristol Bay, Alaska, are unacceptable. The rider stated all the gaps and deficiencies in the draft environmental statement must be addressed. Otherwise, it encouraged agencies to “exercise their discretionary authorities, which include EPA’s enforcement authority under the Clean Water Act, at an appropriate time in the permitting process to ensure the full protection of the region.”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaking during a Bristol Bay Salmon Week celebration in Washington on Sept. 18, 2019 said if the agencies are unable to address the concerns, then a permit should not be issued. “What we all need to be able to believe is that the science that drives the process can be trusted,” she said, “whether it is this for this project or any other project that is out there.”
Alannah Hurley, Yup’ik, is executive director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a consortium of 15 tribes in the area of the mine. She said the preliminary final environmental impact statement doesn’t meet the standard set by Congress. She said it continues to have significant data gaps, and the analysis and studies that agencies identified as problematic have not been addressed.
“The reality is we’re facing a process that is ignoring the concerns of Bristol Bay, ignoring the concerns of other scientists across these federal agencies,” Hurley said. “And now we’re dealing with a Corps who is ignoring Congress as well, and they need to be held accountable.”
She said the root of the problems is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is determined to get permits issued as soon as possible, no matter what the consequences.
“The big take home is that this process has been rushed from the get go,” Hurley said. “If the Corps remains on its published calendar, we will have a permit in two and a half years for the largest mine in North America, and at the headwaters of the last great sockeye salmon fishery left on the face of the planet.”
Hurley compared the Corps handling of the Pebble proposal to review of permit applications for another proposed gold mine in Alaska. Donlin “was much more of a regular process,” Hurley said. “And that took almost seven years to complete. Yet it’s a fraction of the size of what Pebble is proposing here.” (The average review period is 4.5 years according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.)
Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier, in a prepared statement said, “Comments that the Corps ignored comments submitted on the draft [environmental impact statement] were incorrect and irresponsible. Just because some of the groups opposed to Pebble do not like the conclusions … does not mean that the is not valid. Rather, the work on this issue is sound. It is defensible and it should be commended for its completeness.”
Collier said the preliminary final environmental impact statement supports the Pebble Partnership’s views. “The information in the near final report was positive and demonstrates the project can be done without harming the Bristol Bay fishery and would be beneficial to communities closest to the project.”
The state of Alaska favors the Pebble project. In Dec. 2019, CNN reported that Governor Mike Dunleavy used materials, sometimes verbatim, provided to him by the Pebble Partnership in comments to the Corps. A Pebble spokesperson told the Juneau Empire that such collaboration is common.
The final environmental impact statement is due for release in mid-2020. The Corps’ options are to issue a permit, issue one with conditions, or deny the application. A Record of Decision will come at least 30 days after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is released, probably in the Fall.
Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today, and a long-time Alaska journalist.
‘Indigenous people all over the world were especially vulnerable; some were not just decimated but sometimes annihilated’In the past few hundred years more than half of the Alaska Native population was decimated by wave after wave of diseases such as the measles, smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. Then a devastating worldwide influenza epidemic forever changed Alaska’s demographics, making Natives a minority in their homeland.
The spectre of a new epidemic triggers painful memories for Native Americans and others who heard first hand about the 1918 influenza pandemic. After all, it killed 50 to 100 million people, as much as a quarter of the world population. The 1918 influenza was highly contagious with a 2.5 percent mortality rate. (Estimates indicate the COVID-19 virus has a 2.3 percent mortality rate, although that figure may change as researchers learn more about how many people were infected.)
The 1918 influenza spread worldwide in less than a year, and struck and killed people quickly. It attacked people in their 20s and 30s, when immune systems are usually at their strongest. People would come down with a headache, nausea and a fever then die as soon as three days later. They would turn blue and suffocate as lungs filled with fluid. Some experienced hemorrhaging from the nose, stomach, ears and even the eyes.
“Indigenous people all over the world were especially vulnerable; some were not just decimated but sometimes annihilated,” stated Benjamin R. Brady of University of Arizona and Howard M. Bahr of Brigham Young University in a 2014 American Indian Quarterly article. “Native Americans ‘suffered hideously,’ with mortality rates four times higher than in the wider population.”
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you with some unfortunate news: on Wednesday, the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) in a 3-0 vote. If the pipeline’s operators get the same approval in Iowa and Illinois, DAPL’s capacity will double to carry over a million barrels of oil per day.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission has allowed an expansion doubling the oil flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. In our video from the original hearing, you can watch oil industry engineers dissembling about the impacts.
Once again, my people and homelands are intentionally ignored in the interest of increasing profits for the fossil fuel industry. As Standing Rock citizens, my relatives and I will be forced to bear the threat DAPL poses to our water and land. And every human being will now face the danger of increased oil production as our climate warms.
We were at the hearing on DAPL expansion in Linton, North Dakota last November. We helped the tribe muster opposition. And we watched as gas and oil employees and their attorneys lied about the risks. You can watch our video showing those lies here. We know the truth: more oil = more risk.
North Dakota’s PSC claimed in its announcement yesterday that expansion was in the best interest of the state’s citizens, but this of course ignores the valid concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe about the increased threat of surging. And when the Tribe requested more information from Dakota Access about the risks that doubling oil flow could hold for tribal water supplies, the PSC denied the request, citing bureaucratic procedure.
All pipelines leak. In the 15 years before DAPL began operations, 60 leaks spilled more than 42,000 barrels of toxic crude oil in North Dakota alone. This was the reason we stood in prayerful resistance to stop DAPL. It is why we faced rubber bullets, attack dogs, and water cannons. We are facing down a threat to our water, and now that threat is heightened.
We will, however, press on. With Keystone XL on the horizon, we’re readying for another battle for our water, and this time we intend to win. We’re also planning major initiatives on voting in Indian Country during this critical election cycle, and we’re breaking ground on a major festival and teach-in later this year at Standing Rock that will bring musicians, activists, and scientists together to confront the climate crisis.
We hope you stay with us in the fight against the madness of continued dependence on fossil fuels. Time is short. To protect all life on earth we need to act immediately.
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
We are writing to pass along some urgent updates from our Wet’suwet’en relatives whose unceded territories are currently being invaded by Canada’s national police, known as the RCMP. Over the past four days the RCMP has been laying siege upon indigenous land defenders and acting as a military escort for TC Energy (which is TransCanada’s new name) as they attempt to build their Coastal Gas Link pipeline. The information below comes directly from the front lines and we strongly encourage everyone to take action and stand in solidarity with the land defenders of the Unist’ot’en camp. Please follow the links below.
EXCERPT FROM UNIST’OT’EN PRESS RELEASE
Unist’ot’en demands the RCMP will not evict the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre. The RCMP has no jurisdiction to enter the Healing Centre without our Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. Even under colonial law, the RCMP cannot enter or search our Healing Centre without a warrant.
International public support is called for to ensure the safety of the Healing Centre. People living and receiving treatment there are not in violation of CGL’s injunction, nor is the Healing Centre itself in violation of the injunction. The Healing Centre exists to support the self-determination and healing of our people and is unrelated to CGL’s work and the injunction.
Unist’ot’en is outraged over the use of excessive force by the RCMP, including the unnecessary use of heavily armed tactical teams deployed by helicopters to surround Gidimt’en camp at 44 km, use of snipers, and deployment of K9 units. We know that in January 2019, RCMP were authorized to use genocidal lethal force, arrest children and grandparents, and apprehend Wet’suwet’en children in response to our peaceful presence on our lands.
Throughout the enforcement of CGL’s injunction, media and legal observers were illegally corralled and threatened with detention and arrest for doing their jobs. Freedom of the press is protected under Canadian law but journalists were prevented from documenting the RCMP militarized raids on Gidimt’en territories. The RCMP attempted to evict residents from Chief Woos’s cabin. The RCMP and Coastal GasLink also partially dismantled Gidimt’en camp infrastructure and property. This property belongs to the Gidimt’en Clan and the RCMP has no legal authority to destroy it.
On February 8, the exclusion zone was illegally expanded from the 27 KM to the 4 KM mark, and now encompasses the majority of Gidimt’en territory. As a result, eleven people including legal observers were illegally arrested from the 27 km cabin. The exclusion zone has been created by the RCMP to force Wet’suwet’en land defenders off ourland. It is a colonial and criminalizing tool to illegally and arbitrarily extend RCMP authority onto our lands. The massive exclusion zone, completely under RCMP authoritarian discretion, falls outside the injunction area. Chiefs and Wet’suwet’en people are illegally being denied access to their own territories.
We urge Canada to adhere to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) directives and to halt the Coastal Gaslink project, seek Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, withdraw RCMP from our territories and ensure that no lethal weapons or force be used to forcibly evict Wet’suwet’en people from our lands.
TODAYS UPDATES FROM THE FRONT LINES:8:40 am – RCMP on megaphone at #Unistoten bridge: “This is the RCMP. This airspace is now restricted. Do not operate any drone in this area. This restriction is approved by transport Canada.” Freda Huson: “This is not Canada! You are invaders! LEAVE!”
8:39 am – RCMP officers climbing snowbank
8:35 am – RCMP approaching bridge at 66km. 3 SUVs, one large van, line of trucks behind. Matriarchs are drumming and singing on the bridge, walking through the red dresses of their stolen sisters.
8:22 am – Unist’ot’en matriarchs drumming on bridge, as RCMP convoy advances.
8:16 am – RCMP and CGL convoy is now passing the 44 km mark on the way to Unist’ot’en (66km)
7:21 am – RCMP convoy is rolling up towards 66km now from 4km mark.
7:01 am – Convoy of 16 RCMP vehicles, mostly tactical stopped at 3km. 4 snowmobiles. Headed to Unist’ot’en.
6:50 am – Convoy of RCMP tactical vehicles just left the community hall in town and are headed down Hwy 16.
I am fasting today in support of the Extinction Rebellion hunger strikers. Extinction Rebellion is global. Find out more here: https://rebellion.global/
Extinction Rebellion is a leaderless, decentralised, international and apolitical network using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
We have the following three demands in most of our territories:
Tell The Truth
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Remove the Stain Act to be considered by Senate too; House has a version as well
Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, released the Senate companion to the Remove the Stain Act. (**Note: is Warren doing this to clean up her act after not supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock even as she claimed to be a Native?)
Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and D-New Mexico, and Rep. Denny Heck, D-Washington, introduced the House with the Remove Stain Act in June.
Both bills strip for the Congressional Medals of Honor that was awarded to the 20 men in the U.S. 7th Cavalry. The soldiers murdered defenseless and unarmed Lakota men, women and children on December 29, 1890. Also known as the Wounded Knee Massacre.
To rescind each Medal of Honor awarded for acts at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 25, 2019
Mr. Heck (for himself, Mr. Cook, Ms. Haaland, Ms. Davids of Kansas, Mr. Kildee, and Mr. Luján) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services
To rescind each Medal of Honor awarded for acts at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1.Short title.
This Act may be cited as the “Remove the Stain Act”.
SEC. 2. Findings.
Congress finds as follows:
(1) The Medal of Honor is the highest military award of the United States.
(2) Congress found that to earn the Medal of Honor “the deed of the person … must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes his gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery”.
(3) The actions of Medal of Honor recipients inspire bravery in those currently serving in the Armed Forces and those who will come to serve in the future.
(4) Those listed on the Medal of Honor Roll have come to exemplify the best traits of members of the Armed Forces, a long and proud lineage of those who went beyond the call of service to the United States of America.
(5) To date the Medal of Honor has been awarded only 3,522 times, including only 145 times for the Korean War, 126 times in World War I, 23 times during the Global War on Terror, and 20 times for the massacre at Wounded Knee.
(6) The Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress.
(7) As found in Senate Concurring Resolution 153 of the 101st Congress, on December 29, 1890 the 7th Cavalry of the United States engaged a tribal community “resulting in the tragic death and injury of approximately 350–375 Indian men, women, and children” led by Lakota Chief Spotted Elk of the Miniconjou band at “Cankpe’ Opi Wakpa” or “Wounded Knee Creek”.
(8) This engagement became known as the “Wounded Knee Massacre”, and took place between unarmed Native Americans and soldiers, heavily armed with standard issue army rifles as well as four “Hotchkiss guns” with five 37 mm barrels capable of firing 43 rounds per minute.
(9) Nearly two-thirds of the Native Americans killed during the Massacre were unarmed women and children who were participating in a ceremony to restore their traditional homelands prior to the arrival of European settlers.
(10) Poor tactical emplacement of the soldiers meant that most of the casualties suffered by the United States troops were inflicted by friendly fire.
(11) On January 1st, 1891, Major General Nelson A. Miles, Commander of the Division of Missouri, telegraphed Major General John M. Schofield, Commander-in-Chief of the Army notifying him that “[I]t is stated that the disposition of four hundred soldiers and four pieces of artillery was fatally defective and large number of soldiers were killed and wounded by the fire from their own ranks and a very large number of women and children were killed in addition to the Indian men”.
(12) The United States awarded 20 Medals of Honor to soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry following their participation in the Wounded Knee Massacre.
(13) In 2001, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a member Tribe of the Great Sioux Nation, upon information provided by Lakota elders and by veterans, passed Tribal Council Resolution No. 132–01, requesting that the Federal Government revoke the Medals of Honor from the soldiers of the United States Army, 7th Cavalry issued following the massacre of unarmed men, women, children, and elderly of the Great Sioux Nation on December 29, 1890, on Tribal Lands near Wounded Knee Creek.
(14) The National Congress of American Indians requested in a 2007 Resolution that the Congress “renounce the issuance of said medals, and/or to proclaim that the medals are null and void, given the atrocities committed upon unarmed men, women, children and elderly of the Great Sioux Nation”.
(15) General Miles contemporaneously stated that a “[w]holesale massacre occurred and I have never heard of a more brutal, cold-blooded massacre than that at Wounded Knee”.
(16) Allowing any Medal of Honor, the United States highest and most prestigious military decoration, to recognize a member of the Armed Forces for distinguished service for participating in the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Native Americans is a disservice to the integrity of the United States and its citizens, and impinges on the integrity of the award and those who have earned the Medal since.
SEC. 3.Rescission of Medals of Honor awarded for acts at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890.
(a) In general.—Each Medal of Honor awarded for acts at Wounded Knee Creek, Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, is rescinded.
(b) Medal of Honor Roll.—The Secretary concerned shall remove the name of each individual awarded a Medal of Honor for acts described in subsection (a) from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard Medal of Honor Roll maintained under section 1134a of title 10, United States Code.
(c) Return of medal not required.—No person may be required to return to the Federal Government a Medal of Honor rescinded under subsection (a).
(d) No denial of benefits.—This Act shall not be construed to deny any individual any benefit from the Federal Government.
***Note: my personal opinion – the medals should be returned and any benefits cut. Too bad these men are not alive today- they should have faced trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.