The United States Army awarded Medals of Honor, its highest commendation, to 20 American soldiers who participated in the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children.
After years of conflict with American forces, the tribal members, on the verge of starvation, and at the mercy of the elements, were forced to surrender to the occupiers. Accompanied by their elders, 350 souls set off to the nearest outpost of American soldiers.
Rather than disarm the lightly-armed men immediately, US army forces escorted them five miles away where they instructed them to set up camp near a ravine. American soldiers proceeded to set up four mortar guns around the encampment.
At daybreak on December 31, the commanding officer ordered the surrender of weapons and the removal of the refugees who were supposed to be relocated outside the conflict zone.
Thirty-eight rifles were confiscated during a search of the camp along with other weapons. The more arms the surrendering party turned over, the more abusive the American soldiers became. Tensions rose and tempers flared as US soldiers harassed an elderly deaf man who did not respond to an order to turn over his weapon. When they attempted to forcibly disarm the old man, his rifle discharged.
Since what was supposed to be a peaceful surrender was now turning violent. Five young men pulled out concealed weapons and fired them at the American forces. The US soldiers responded by firing indiscriminately into the crowd of refugees. Although a few of the targeted were able to grab hold of some confiscated weapons, the majority of them were weaponless. With no rifles and no cover, the men were slaughtered in a matter of minutes.
While some US soldiers shot the male refugees at close range, others turned their heavy artillery toward the tents filled with women and children, showering them with a hail of bullets and mortar. As women and children fled toward the nearby ravine, the American soldiers fanned out and finished off the wounded. Others pursued the wounded men, women, and children across the surrounding fields.
Within one hour, at least 150 men, women, and children were killed. According to some sources, the casualties exceeded 300. The harrowing tales of the witnesses are haunting. According to one tribal leader,
There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce… A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing… The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through… and after most or all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys… came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there.
Another witness recalled “the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch.” An American general, who visited the scene of the carnage after a three-day winter storm, estimated that there were approximately 300 frozen corpses strewn across the countryside. As one of the soldiers who was present observed,
He also discovered to his horror that helpless children and women with babies in their arms had been chased as far as two miles from the original scene of encounter and cut down without mercy by the troopers… Judging by the slaughter on the battlefield it was suggested that the soldiers simply went berserk. For who could explain such a merciless disregard for life?
General Nelson A. Miles described the incident as “the most abominable criminal military blunder and a horrible massacre of women and children.” A 20-year-old private, who was present at the massacre, recalled “The screams of mothers as machine gun bullets tore their bodies apart” and described his companions-in-arms as “demon-crazed white soldiers.”
Rather than charge the perpetrators with war crimes, the United States Army chose to honor them, awarding Medals of Honor to 20 of them. No, this massacre did not take place in Afghanistan on December 31, 2016. This tragedy and travesty of justice was perpetrated in the State of South Dakota on December 31, 1890.
Despite resolutions condemning the Medals of Honor, which are really Medals of Dishonor, and demands that they be rescinded, the US Government has consistently refused to withdraw them. In so doing, the American Government memorialized a massacre and those who committed it rather than honoring its victims and compensating their descendants for the loss of loved ones, “Verily, Allah loves not the evildoers” (28:77).
For the love of God and all that is good, please sign the petition demanding that the Wounded Knee Medals of Honor be rescinded (https://www.ipetitions.com/ petition/12-20-1890/).