Donald Trump is not expected to make his scheduled July 3 visit to the Mount Rushmore monument in South Dakota as he poses a security risk amid the coronavirus pandemic and is an insult to Native Americans on the stolen ground from which he was built, the president of declared the Sioux tribal council of Oglala.
Several Native American groups are planning protests for Trumps’ controversial trip to the 79-year-old stone monument dug in the Black Hills which is expected to include the first fireworks display on the site since 2009 and an air parade.
Trump coming here is a security concern not only for my people inside and outside the reserve, but for the people of the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills and we are already seeing infections increasing, said Oglala Sioux president Julian Bear Runner in an interview with the Guardian.
It’ll cause an uproar if he comes here. People are going to want to exercise their first rights of amendment to protest and we don’t want to see anyone injured or the land destroyed, said Bear Runner.
Trump’s visit to the huge site that commemorates four American presidents was a violation of historic treaties that the US government had signed with the Native Americans who were to rule the sacred Black Hills, said tribal president Oglala, adding that Trump would have had to ask permission for the travel of the seven Sioux tribal governments.
The land on which this mountain is carved and the land it is about to visit belongs to the Great Sioux Nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868 and I must tell it that did not have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time, said Bear Runner.
The 1868 treaty recognized Sioux sovereignty over the Black Hills in perpetuity, but after the discovery of gold in the area, the federal government forced the Sioux to give up this part of their reserve. In 1980, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the tribal lands covered by the treaty had been illegally taken from the Sioux.
Julian Bear Runner, Chairman of the Sioux Oglala Tribal Council. Photography: Ryan Hermans / AP
Bear Runner added that Trumps’ visit could only be approved if the President sat down with the heads of the seven tribal councils during a government-to-government consultation.
As the leader of the United States, he has an obligation to honor the treaties that are the supreme law of the country, said the 34-year-old president.
Trump’s visit comes after months of escalating tensions between Native Americans and the state of South Dakota and federal officials over the jurisdictional power to isolate reserve lands from the spread of Covid-19 that devastated many indigenous communities elsewhere.
In early May, Sioux leaders from Oglala and Cheyenne River denied a request from Republican Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem to remove checkpoints leading to their reserve, which they say helped protect the tribe of all coronavirus cases except a handful.
Last week, the Cheyenne Sioux accused Trump administration officials of a sustained and illegal threat campaign against the tribe to take control of the tribal police after the Cheyenne and Oglala Sioux rejected the requests from Noems.
Trump’s planned visit also outweighs a record of racism and a re-examination of provocative representations of colonial power across the United States.
In New Mexico, which is home to more than a dozen Pueblo Indian reserves as well as part of the Navajo nation, a movement is underway to remove the monuments to the Spanish conquistadors Juan de Oate and Diego de Vargas.
Native American activists have argued for years that the memorial to American presidents carved into Mount Rushmore is just as offensive as the monuments to Confederate rulers or Spanish conquistadors.
The monument was, according to them, carved out of a mountain with its own spiritual significance, sits on stolen land, was designed and executed by a sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who had ties to white supremacists, and represents presidents each of which had dirty hands. terms of slavery and racial oppression.
The rocks already had spiritual significance before Westerners squatted on our territory, said Bear Runner. The land rightfully belongs to us, and we have not given up the Black Hills. It would be a mistake for me as a tribal chief to remain diplomatic. We see the sculptures as a symbol of trying to wipe ourselves off and saying that they won us over.
For years, activists have called for the removal of four presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt from the mountain. Everyone owned slaves, made racist remarks or initiated actions that harmed indigenous 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 real story and its wrong. We only hear the highlighted history of the good things these men did for this country, but they do not say that this land belongs to the Native Americans, that the Black Hills belong to the Sioux nations, or the hanging of these men from Dakota, said Bear Runner. .
The social and cultural desecration represented by the monument has led many indigenous activists to request the removal of the monument. But Governor Noem tweeted last week, Not under my watch.
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