Leaders of the Lakota tribe of Native Americans are calling for the destruction of the stone faces on Mount Rushmore and the return of the Black Hills to Native American control.
“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,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement, according to USA Today.
Yes, a great injustice was done. And in 1979, the Supreme Court awarded the tribe $17 million as compensation for the government allowing settlers to violate the treaty and claim the land. The tribe refused the award, looking to maintain a claim on the Black Hills.
It’s an old argument and not a very convincing one. The Lakota tribe originally settled in the Mississippi Valley region, hundreds of miles from the Black Hills. It wasn’t until after they fought a war with the Iroquois in the 1600s that they were forced to move into Minnesota where they gradually expanded their territory into the Great Plains (through war and conquest) to eventually include the Black Hills.
But the Black Hills are part of their religious beliefs, regardless of when they got there. It has always been a particularly black mark in our history of dealings with Native Americans and caused decades of suffering for both white settlers and Indians.
Donald Trump will visit Mount Rushmore on July 3 with South Dakota Governor Noem to attend a fireworks display.
“We are now being forced to witness the lashing of our land with pomp, arrogance and fire hoping our sacred lands survive,” he said. “This brand on our flesh needs to be removed and I am willing to do it free of charge to the United States, by myself if I must.”
Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner has also called for the removal of the monument, which he called “a great sign of disrespect” last week.
Mount Rushmore not only honors noted American leaders but is the astonishing creation of largely one man — an American named Gutzon Borglum, who labored 14 years on the project until his death. His son tried to continue the sculptures but eventually, he abandoned the work largely as his father left it.
As a testament to the determination of the human spirit, there are few similar examples elsewhere in the world. But Borglum has his own problematic history. A high ranking member of the Klan, his belief in white supremacy and his anti-Indian rhetoric stain his memory.
We are being told today that this disqualifies him from membership in the human race, that anything he ever did in his life means nothing because he was a racist. To say that’s ignorant and outrageously stupid doesn’t phase the cancelers. They have the mob on their side — both the physical mob and the virtual mob. And, if terrified elites give in and blow up the faces on Mount Rushmore, none of us should be surprised.