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Congress Apologizes To Wounded Knee Victims

October 26, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Descendants of the Indians killed and hurt in the Wounded Knee massacre 100 years ago got their long-awaited apology from the U.S. government Thursday.

The House gave final congressional approval to a resolution expressing the government’s ″deep regret″ for the event that marked the end of the Indian wars. The Senate approved the measure last week.

Depending on the historical account, some 150 to 400 Sioux Indians were killed by the 7th Cavalry on Dec. 29, 1890 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.

The resolution does not provide any reparations to the descendants or declare the remote site a national monument, as the Wounded Knee Survivors Association had requested.

″No money is spent by this measure,″ said Rep. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who called the apology a ″long overdue measure.″

The resolution passed by voice vote.

The resolution said Congress ″acknowledges the historical significance of this event as the last armed conflict of the Indian wars period ... and hereby expresses its deep regret on behalf of the United States to the descendants of the victims and survivors and their respective tribal communities.″

The South Dakota congressional delegation hopes to get funds next year for the monument designation and reparations for descendants of the victims. The site was made a national landmark 25 years ago.

The descendants want compensation for thousands of dollars in property that was taken from the victims.

Indian and government historians have been at odds over the past century on the circumstances surrounding Wounded Knee and the toll of dead and injured.

According to the resolution, 350 to 375 Indian men, women and children of Chief Big Foot’s band of Minneconjou Sioux were killed at Wounded Knee.

The descendants group told a Senate committee last month that 426 Indians were killed when they were attacked while in custody of drunken soldiers.

The official position of the Interior Department, parent agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is that fewer than 200 people were killed or wounded. The firing began when an Indian fired his gun as soldiers tried to disarm him, the department says.