I am going to repost an article I wrote for Last Real Indians here. http://www.lastrealindians.com converted to a new website and somehow my last article is somewhere in cyberspace. But putting it here means I can add a little commentary before. When I first brought this idea to Chase Iron Eyes. His exact response to me was “We’re gonna do this.” At no point in time did he say “We can try.” or “It has been done before and failed.” Not one time did he make me feel lik this was impossible. He had that same attitude with the Pe’sla fundraising campaign. So I know this is going to be done.
Also when I talked to my kids great grandma and told her, she said “Yes, do it.” All the times before when she told me, you have a voice, I have to tell you this story because you have a voice. She would tell me about her grandmother, who raised her from age two. How her grandmother showed her the bullet wound, that never quite healed from the Seventh Cavalry. The bullet that gave her a hard life of walking with a limp and having to rest because it was painful. The bullet she carried from age 14 when she watched her three little brothers get murdered. Little brother, one barely walking. She carried guilt with her all her life for not being able to save them. She said it was early morning and her and her cousin were trying to start a fire with some straw because it was so cold. That’s when the first shots went out. She tried carrying one brother but he was shot dead and she had to leave him. She lived to raise them but cried for her brothers and was traumatized all her life from that cold winter day. I remember my kids great grandma wiping tears as she tells the story of her grandmother’s survival.
All I could think was this isn’t right. How can this country give medals of honor to those men for killing those three little boys and hundreds more that day?
You wonder why Indians can go through their lives with so much anger? This is one small story that makes me angry. And there are millions of stories of the attempted genocide of the Indigenous of Turtle Island. But I can’t go through life being angry, our time here is limited, and we have to use that time wisely to let the truth be known. To create a future for our children so they don’t grow up the way some of us did. So they know the real stories.
So in the words of Mr. Iron Eyes “We’re gonna do this.”
Yes we will rewrite history, so we can heal.
From Last Real Indians.
There is a phrase that makes every Indigenous person cringe.
“Get over it, it’s in the past.”
And yet each and every one of us had heard it or read it, whether it was directed at us or indirectly. Colonizers tend to think that the horrid past all Indigenous share in the name of greed and manifest destiny is only that, the past to be forgotten and kicked away, as if it is a can in the street.
We all know the reason they want us to forget our ancestors, those who are directly related to us, is because their ancestors were responsible for every murder, every rape, every theft of everything our great nations of relations stood for.
I guess, maybe if I had no connection at all to any of the atrocities brought on by the government, maybe it would be easy for me to say ”Forget all that. Push it under the rug.” But I do have a connection, as does every single Indigenous person of Turtle Island.
They don’t want us to honor our ancestors who died defending our way of life, while they honor soldiers who “defended freedom.” Or even our ancestors who only died for being who they were and for being here first. Think of how many times we hang the flags half mast. For example, on Pearl Harbor Day when 2,402 American soldiers were killed. On September 11, when 2,996 people were killed by terrorist attacks.
9/11 is known as the day terrorists attacked on this soil but many people seem to forget that they were not the first terrorist attacks. Columbus was the first terrorist. Pearl Harbor Day is known as The Attack on Pearl Harbor, which it was. However many massacres of Indian women, children, and elders across America are referred to by the government as battles and always have been.
On the National Parks Service website they refer to The Wounded Knee Battlefield, where they say the Lakota held rifles up to the 7th first. However, they seem to forget that there were some survivors and the story of the massacre was passed down. Stories of soldiers brutally murdering babies and women on that cold December day. My children’s great grandmother often talks of how her grandmother escaped but lived in pain her whole life with a bullet in her leg, while knowing her little three brothers died that day. She was 14 years old.
Twenty Medals of Honor were given that day to the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry who committed the same crimes as the soldiers in Vietnam and massacred somewhere between 300 and 500 unarmed civilians of the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. 26 U.S. soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest.
So even though justice was never brought to both incidences, why is one set of soldiers given medals of honor and the other court martialed? One hundred years later, the U.S. government changed Wounded Knee’s designation from a battle to a massacre and issued a statement of regret to the Lakota people. However, the National Park Service still lists the site as a battlefield. And the Medals of Honor remain.
It is now time for use to reclaim the honor of the ancestors who passed that day and petition the President and the United States Government to rescind the Congressional Medals of Honor that were given to the 20 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry for the mass murder of our ancestors. Why should their descendants take pride in that medal that killed our ancestors?
Don’t ever tell an Indian to get over their past. We never forget but we move on. we move on for those who came before us This is for all our relatives who gave their lives and made us the strong nations we are now. Pilamaya, thank you. We will never forget.
*Dedicated to the memory of Alice Horn Cloud, who passed away an elder, but passed away knowing soldiers were decorated for murdering her three little brothers.
Please sign the petition to Rescind The Medals of Honor Awarded to The Soldiers at Wounded Knee. Click here