Writer is STRIPPED of her award after woke critics accused her of 'glamorizing the killing of Native Americans' with scene depicting the Wounded Knee Massacre
- Karen Witemeyer's At Love's Command won the best romance with religious or spiritual elements of 2021 at the RWA's inaugural Vivian Awards
- The Christian western romance novel centers around ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger and Dr Josephine Burkett who fall in love in 1890s Texas
- Outraged critics say that opening scene romanticizes the Battle at Wounded Knee in which an estimated 300 Lakota people were killed by US soldiers
- In a statement the RWA said they held an 'emergency meeting' and decided that they would rescind the Vivian award for Witemeyer's book
- Witemeyer's publisher Baker Publishing Group released statement that said the author is 'saddened' by the offense the book has caused
- The win generated some outrage on social media,, with one person tweeting: 'This is appalling. Heroes do not participate in genocide'
The Romance Writers of America has rescinded its award for a novel that critics accused of 'glamorizing killing of Native Americans' with opening scene depicting the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Karen Witemeyer's At Love's Command recently won the best romance with religious or spiritual elements of 2021 at the RWA's inaugural Vivian Awards.
The Christian western romance novel, which centers around ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger and Dr Josephine Burkett who fall in love in 1890s Texas, opens with a scene depicting the Wounded Knee Massacre.
After Witemeyer was given the award, it came under fire from critics who said it offensively romanticizes the battle in which an estimated 300 Lakota people were killed by soldiers of the United States Army on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on December 29, 1890.
The book begins during the battle where Hanger, a captain of the 7th Calgary, confronts the Lakota Sioux.
He is 'grounded' by a verse from the Psalms as the cavalry demands the Lakotas' weapons and when a medicine man begins chanting, 'stirring up defiance,' a Lakota man fires his gun, leading Hanger to give the order attack the Lakota.
'They'd just participated in a massacre,' Witemeyer writes at the end of the prologue.
In response to the controversy, Witemeyer's publisher Baker Publishing Group, released statement that said the author is 'saddened' by the offense the book has caused.
The statement clarifies that while her protagonist participates in the war, he is 'sickened' by his actions.
'The author makes it clear throughout the book that the protagonist deeply regrets his actions and spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the wrong that he did,' the statement said.
'Witemeyer wrote this carefully-researched story with the knowledge that it would include some of the darkest moments of our nation’s history, including deplorable acts of violence like the Wounded Knee Massacre.'
'It was neither the author’s nor publisher's wish to offend, but rather to recount this history for the tragedy it was,' the statement added.
The RWA said they came to their decision to rescind the award after holding an 'emergency meeting.'
'RWA is in full support of First Amendment rights; however, as an organization that continually strives to improve our support of marginalized authors, we cannot in good conscience uphold the decision of the judges in voting to celebrate a book that depicts the inhumane treatment of indigenous people and romanticizes real world tragedies that still affect people to this day,' the nonprofit said in a statement.
The win also generated some outrage on social media.
'This is appalling,' one person tweeted. 'Heroes do not participate in genocide. This book does not deserve an award for anything.'
Someone else tweeted: 'A ''romance'' in which the 'hero' commits genocide against Native Americans is honored with an award named after the pioneering Black woman founder of RWA is why the organization continues to bleed membership.'
'As a Taino, I'm not at all surprised that a book has romanticized genocide,' another person tweeted. 'However, I am VERY disappointed to see it won an award. After I naively believed in new beginnings and gave @romancewriters a second chance? They will NEVER learn. Membership permanently cancelled.'
The RWA is a non-profit for romance novel writers that holds charity events and conferences and annual awards.
Last year they renamed the award the 'Vivian'- after the famous African-American romance novelist Vivian Stephens.