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SD Group Wants Wounded Knee Medals Rescinded Over Trump Tweet

The 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre that left 250 Native American women and children dead is considered one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. (
The 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre that left 250 Native American women and children dead is considered one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. (
February 14, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. – A controversial tweet by President Donald Trump has led a Native American group to encourage Congress to rescind medals awarded to soldiers more than 100 years ago following the battle at Wounded Knee in southwestern South Dakota.

And Four Winds Incorporated is urging Native Americans to become involved in the political process and voter engagement.

O.J. Semans, co-executive director of Four Directions and a South Dakota Rosebud Sioux Tribe member, says the president's tweets mocking Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts perpetuate disdain for Native Americans that has led to their marginalization in American society.

"What is happening by this president using Native Americans as racial slurs takes back everything that we've been trying to show to our people is a positive reason to participate in the political process," Semans states.

Trump repeatedly has called Warren "Pocahontas" after she claimed Native American ancestry. His tweet said her recent TV ad should have been filmed at Wounded Knee in "full Indian garb."

Letters from Four Winds were sent to the House and Senate armed services committees requesting that language to rescind the medals be included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.

It's estimated that 20 soldiers were awarded medals of honor in 1890 after killing 250 Native American women and children.

Semans says the genocide of Native Americans never should be used as a political pun.

"It's a horrific insult, basically walking and laughing over the graves of our ancestors that were murdered," he stresses.

The Four Winds group is planning a trip to Washington next month to knock on congressional doors, according to Semans, because Native Americans must stay active in the country's political process.

"The massacre at Wounded Knee, of the killing of the women and the children, and those individuals receiving medals of honor, sets the tone of how Native Americans are treated throughout the United States," he states.

South Dakota's top politicians, including Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, criticized the president's tweet, with Rounds saying the Wounded Knee Massacre should not be used as a punchline.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD