Native Tribal Leaders Call For The Removal Of Mount Rushmore
Another South Dakota tribal leader is calling for the removal of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s visit to the monument.
Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, criticised today’s upcoming visit from the president, July 3, saying his tribe are ‘being forced to witness the lashing of our land with pomp, arrogance and fire hoping our sacred lands survive’.
His comments reference Trump and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s plans to bring back the monument’s annual fireworks show to celebrate Independence Day, in spite of fire experts deeming it ‘ill-advised’ due to dry conditions.
‘Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,’ Frazier said in a statement.
Visitors look upon the faces of those presidents and extol the virtues that they believe make America the country it is today. Lakota see the faces of the men who lied, cheated and murdered innocent people whose only crime was living on the land they wanted to steal.
The United States of America wishes for all of us to be citizens and a family of their republic, yet when they get bored of looking at those faces we are left looking at our molesters. We are the ones who live under the stare of those who have wronged us while others have the privilege to look away and move on. We cannot.
The monument, which features the 60-foot heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, is carved in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota.
This land was given to Native American tribes through the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. However, as soon as gold was discovered in the area that all changed, with miners coming to the area in 1874 and the US Army moving against the Native people.
In 1876, local Natives and the US fought in the Great Sioux War for ownership of the Black Hills, and just one year later the US confiscated the land by cutting off rations to the Sioux people if they didn’t cede Black Hills to the government. 51 years later, construction began on Mount Rushmore.
Frazier isn’t the only South Dakota tribal leader to call for the monument’s removal; last week, Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner called Mount Rushmore ‘a great sign of disrespect’.
Bear Runner also urged Trump to stay away this weekend, telling The Guardian his visit is not only a ‘safety concern’ for his people inside and outside of the reservation because of the ongoing health crisis, but for ‘people in the Great Plains’.
‘We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,’ Bear Runner said. ‘It’s going to cause an uproar if he comes here… We do not want to see anyone get hurt or the lands be destroyed.’
Regardless, the event is going ahead tonight – without compulsory face masks or social distancing guidelines in place – in a state that has recorded more than 6,700 cases of coronavirus and more than 90 deaths.
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