President Trump and Vice President Pence plan to attend a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore tomorrow, July 3, 2020. Native Americans and their supporters have numerous objections to the visit. One is the continued irresponsible idea of crowds where no masks or social distancing will be enforced. Native American populations have suffered greatly from COVID-19 and have been making considerable efforts to protect tribal people, including checkpoints at the points of entry to the tribal lands.
Not only was the land stolen, but desecrated with the engravings of four racist presidents (see image below). Each either owned slaves, made racist remarks or initiated actions that contributed harm to Native peoples.
Of the four, Lincoln gives the greatest offense to Native Americans for ordering the largest mass execution in American history when 38 Sioux were hanged in Minnesota during the Dakota war of 1862.
“They don’t tell the true story and it’s wrong. We hear only the highlighted story of the good things these men have done for this country but they don’t tell that this land belongs to Native Americans, that the Black Hills belong to the Sioux nations, or the hanging of these Dakota men,” Bear Runner said.Donald Trump should stay away from Mount Rushmore, Sioux leader says. The president’s planned visit to the monument on ‘stolen’ Native land risks spreading coronavirus, tribal president warns by Edward Helmore, The Guardian, July 1, 2020
This comes at a time when statues of Confederate soldiers and leaders are being removed from public spaces, one way or another. Join us on July 4th from 1-3 pm to rally at the Iowa State Capitol and demand that monuments to white supremacy be removed in Iowa. Organizers will present Iowa legislators with a letter demanding that all racist, misogynistic, homo/transphobic, whitewashed historical depictions be removed from all state grounds and facilities. The title of the event is HEY! Come Get Your Racist Uncle.
A decade after being banned amid concerns about wildfires and groundwater pollution, and despite protests by Native Americans and recommendations from public health officials to avoid public gatherings, fireworks will once again be exploding over Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of western South Dakota on Friday, anticipating the Fourth of July.
Beyond being an implicit repudiation of recommended public health measures, the South Dakota pyrotechnics extravaganza also highlights Trump’s disdain for environmental measures adopted during the Obama administration.Revived Mount Rushmore Fireworks Will Feature Trump But No Social Distancing by David Welna, NPR, July 1, 2020
In South Dakota, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe has ordered President Trump to cancel a planned visit to Mount Rushmore on July 3 for his Independence Day celebration. Julian Bear Runner told The Guardian, “The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he’s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and I have to tell him he doesn’t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time.”Oglala Sioux President Says Trump “Doesn’t Have Permission” to Visit Mt. Rushmore, The Guardian, July 2, 2020
Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people.
Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s 3 July visit, part of Trump’s “comeback” campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and, recently, social unrest.
The event is slated to include fighter jets thundering over the 79-year-old stone monument in South Dakota’s Black Hills and the first fireworks display at the site since 2009.
But it comes amid a national reckoning over racism and a reconsideration of the symbolism of monuments around the globe. Many Native American activists say the Rushmore memorial is as reprehensible as the many Confederate monuments being toppled around the nation.
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” said Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective.
“It’s an injustice to actively steal indigenous people’s land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide.”
While some activists, like Tilsen, want to see the monument removed altogether and the Black Hills region returned to the Lakota, others have called for a share in the economic benefits from the region and the tourists it attracts.
The four faces, carved into the mountain with dynamite and drills, are known as the “shrine to democracy”. The presidents were chosen by sculptor Gutzon Borglum for their leadership during four phases of American development: Washington led the birth of the nation; Jefferson sparked its westward expansion; Lincoln preserved the union and emancipated slaves; Roosevelt championed industrial innovation.
And yet, for many Native American people, including the Lakota, Cheyenne, Omaha, Arapaho, Kiowa and Kiowa-Apache, the monument is a desecration to the Black Hills, which they consider sacred. Lakota people know the area as Paha Sapa – “the heart of everything that is”.
Trump’s Mount Rushmore fireworks plan draws criticism from Native Americans. Native Americans view monument as desecration of stolen land. Activists planning protests for Trump’s Independence Day visit, Guardian staff, The Guardian, June 25, 2020.
Native Americans are expressing outrage over President Donald Trump’s planned fireworks display Friday at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, a monument on land they say was stolen from them more than a century ago.
They also question the timing of the event, scheduled during a period in which Americans struggle to come to terms with racism and police violence, and underfunded tribes battle the spread of COVID-19.
In 1868, the U.S. government signed a peace treaty with Dakota, Lakota and Arapaho leaders, designating as the “Great Sioux Nation” territory that stretched across parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and four other states and guaranteeing the tribes “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation.”
But that was before miners led by General George A. Custer found gold in the Black Hills, setting off a flood of prospectors who demanded protection by the government.
Under pressure from the miners, the U.S. Interior Department sent a commission to negotiate purchasing the Black Hills but refused the tribes’ asking price. Congress then passed an act in 1877 reclaiming the Black Hills and consigned the tribes, at threat of cutting off all their rations and supplies, to five small reservations in South Dakota.
Tribal leaders in South Dakota plan to protest President Trump’s appearance Friday at an elaborate Mount Rushmore fireworks display, arguing that the event could worsen the state’s coronavirus outbreak and violates Native Americans’ claims to the Black Hills.
The objections of seven Sioux tribal governments — all of which had raised concerns as Trump officials were planning the trip — underscore how the president has become a polarizing figure regardless of where he travels in the United States. Critics of the president demonstrated outside of his recent rallies in Tulsa and Phoenix, and they will greet him once he returns to Washington on Saturday for a “Salute to America” celebration he has orchestrated to commemorate Independence Day.
National Park Service officials have not allowed pyrotechnics at Mount Rushmore for more than a decade, out of concern that they could set off wildfires and contaminate drinking water supplies. The memorial is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forested lands and lies next to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness. Just last week, a wildfire erupted six miles south of the memorial, destroying about 60 acres before it was extinguished with help from 117 firefighters and eight aircraft.Rocket’s red glare and protests: Trump’s Mount Rushmore fireworks anger tribes. Sioux leaders object to fireworks displays on sacred land by Juliet Eilperin, Darry Fears and Two Armus, Washington Post, July 2, 2020