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Wounded Knee Massacre Bill passes the House of Representatives

Wounded Knee Monument
Courtesy of the State Archives
Wounded Knee Monument

The Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act passed through the House with a unanimous vote.

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., introduced the bill back in May to help tribes commemorate the lives lost in the Wounded Knee Massacre. The bill was unanimously passed in the House Natural Resources Committee in June.

“In the dead of winter, Dec. 29, 1890, the United States’ 7th Cavalry massacred our People, old men, women, and children,” said Chairman Ryman LeBeau of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. “We stand as a united voice for our ancestors who suffered the pain of the Wounded Knee Massacre and our countless generations who continue to suffer from the historical trauma."

Johnson addressed the House Wednesday, urging the country to do more to recognize the actions that took place at Wounded Knee.

“Our nation has struggled with how best to remember, to mourn, that terrible day,” Johnson said. “On the 100th anniversary of Wounded Knee this body issued a formal apology and expressed deep regret for the actions of that day. And that is obviously altogether appropriate although on its own it is woefully insufficient.”

Last year, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe came together to purchase the land surrounding the massacre site.

Johnson said the bill will aid the tribes in their mission.

“This bill, the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act, would place those 40 acres into restricted fee status, in essence, placing them into trust for the tribes,” Johnson said. “That would provide the tribes additional tools that they could use to better protect this sacred land.”

Johnson said although Wounded Knee can’t be erased from history, this bill is a step in the right direction.

"We, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, extend our strong support for the passage of the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act. We thank Dusty Johnson and the House for taking this important step,” LeBeau said.

Veda is an English and journalism major at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. She loves writing and storytelling, and she plans to pursue a career as a journalist after graduation.