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Man drops plan to open South Dakota Medal of Honor Museum

May 28, 2019

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man has scrapped plans to open a museum honoring recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

John L. Johnson of Rapid City had planned to open the museum Aug. 1 at the Rushmore Mall.

But Johnson told the Rapid City Journal on Tuesday that he has abandoned that plan after receiving threats. Instead, he says he plans to open an art gallery for Native American artists on that date in the same space planned for the museum.

Johnson sparked controversy in an interview with the newspaper earlier this month, when he referred to efforts to rescind medals given to U.S. cavalry soldiers for the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre that killed Native Americans, including women and children. Johnson said many of those soldiers who went on to receive the medal acted heroically.

Johnson said he has decided not to move forward with the museum project. He has written a book about Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and had planned to fund the free museum with his own money, donations and other means.

Johnson, who is African American and had worked for Oglala Lakota College as director of assessment for two years, had planned special displays for minority medal recipients in the museum.

He said he understands Native Americans’ strong feels about the medal and Wounded Knee.

“They did make a point and just to avoid any more divisions in our society, to avoid any more controversy and to pay respect to those people, I have dropped the museum project,” he said.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was first bestowed upon Union soldiers in the 1860s during the American Civil War.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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