Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for President Trump’s July 3 visit and Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore. The upcoming show at the “Shrine of Democracy” will be the first display at the site since 2009. The celebration will include fireworks and fighter jets flying over the historical 79-year old stone monument in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
While the nation remains in an uproar over racial equality, many historical monuments and statues of Confederate leaders have been vandalized, destroyed, and taken down by protesters and activists across the cities of the U.S. Conservatives believe that Mount Rushmore will be the nation’s next target as there have been recent threats and discussion amongst activists through online activity.
Many Native American activists believe that Mount Rushmore is just as deplorable as the Confederate monuments and statues being targeted and taken down across America. Local activists perceive the monument as a reminder of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to native people.
“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.”
Fifty years ago a group of activists associated with an organization called United Native Americans climbed to the top of the monument and occupied it. Quanah Brightman, who runs United Native Americans, said he hopes a similar movement for Native Americans comes from the Black Lives Matter movement.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem vowed to not let activists tear down Mount Rushmore on Tuesday in a response to a tweet from conservative columnist and commentator Ben Shapiro, who asked the question: “So, when is our woke historical revisionist priesthood going to insist on blowing up Mount Rushmore?”
“Not on my watch,” Noem responded.