Johnson bill to protect Wounded Knee massacre land passes U.S. House

Rep. Dusty Johnson’s floor remarks.
Rep. Dusty Johnson’s floor remarks.(Dusty Johnson)
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 2:42 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KOTA) - The Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act passed the U.S. House by unanimous consent. The bill introduced by U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) in May aims to preserve a section of land where the U.S. Army massacred hundreds of Lakota Indians. Representative Johnson worked closely with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for months to develop the bill. The bill unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee in June.

“What happened at Wounded Knee is a stain on our nation’s past that cannot be washed away,” said Johnson. “But passage of this bill is a step closer to properly memorializing the lives lost and protecting the land forever.”

“In the dead of winter, December 29, 1890, the United States 7th Cavalry massacred our People, old men, women, and children. 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. 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,” said Chairman Ryman LeBeau, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“We are pleased the House of Representatives acted quickly to pass this important legislation. This bill will protect our sacred land at Wounded Knee. It also continues the healing process for the descendants of victims and survivors of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre,” said President Frank Star Comes Out, Oglala Sioux Tribe.\

Wounded Knee Massacre Background:

In the late 1880s, a movement called the Ghost Dance swept the nation. Indians believed that this dance would give stolen land back to the Indians, bringing about a renewal of Native society. Indians would join together, wearing shirts they believed would protect them from bullets, to dance for this renewal, all at the protest of the federal government.

On December 29th, 1890, a group of Lakota Indians led by Chief Spotted Elk made camp near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. There, U.S. Army 7th Calvary troops were sent to disarm the Lakota. A struggle occurred between the U.S. Army and some of Chief Spotted Elk’s bands. Which was mostly made up of women and children. A shot rang out, and the U.S. Army opened fire on the largely unarmed group, massacring an estimated 350-375 Lakota Indians. Twenty-five U.S. soldiers also died.