The recent celebration at Mt. Rushmore on the Fourth of July (2020) has reignited the controversy over its origins and its existence. Someone I know posted a meme stating : “Can someone please explain to me how pancake syrup, movies, books, statues, logos and building names weren’t racist when Obama was president?” Her friends politely responded to her, letting her know these things have always been offensive, regardless who our past president has been or who our current president is. I responded that she had great friends that responded to her with respectful and informational comments. It’s all about knowledge. It’s all about the truth of the matter. Truth is empowering, but it can challenge things you’ve always believed. I’ve discovered the hard way the people don’t like to be challenged. Some have accused me of personally attacking them! I’ve had beliefs that I’ve held that were based on inaccurate information. And when the truth was exposed, I have made it a point to verify the information and see how this new information could affect my understanding. The attitude that “this is what I believe and this is what I will always believe” limits our growth as an individual.
I’ve included a few articles written based on the facts surrounding the creation of Mt. Rushmore. They didn’t teach this truth involving Native Americans in our history books either. The true history of the matter is just that. No one is trying to CHANGE or ERASE HISTORY. I am advocating learning the ACTUAL HISTORY of a situation. The problem is that in this instance, as it was in many others, we were fed only the version that was sanitized. We should want to know America’s true history and not think our country will fall apart or fall into a state of anarchy with this knowledge. We can’t effectively address a problem unless we know the real why, when and where.
Native Americans and Mount Rushmore
[ pbs.org ]
The creation of Mount Rushmore is a story of struggle — and to some, desecration. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota Sioux, the original occupants of the area when white settlers arrived. For some, the four presidents carved in the hill are not without negative symbolism. The Sioux have never had much luck dealing with white men. In the Treaty of 1868, the U.S. government promised the Sioux territory that included the Black Hills in perpetuity. Perpetuity lasted only until gold was found in the mountains and prospectors migrated there in the 1870s. The federal government then forced the Sioux to relinquish the Black Hills portion of their reservation.
These events fit the pattern of the late 19th century, a time of nearly constant conflict between the American government and Plains Indians. At his second presidential inauguration in 1873, Ulysses S. Grant reflected the attitudes of many whites when he said he favored a humane course to bring Native Americans “under the benign influences of education and civilization. It is either this or war of extermination.” Many of the land’s original occupants did not choose to assimilate; for them war, was the only option. In South Dakota, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse led various Sioux tribes against the U.S. Army. They had a notable success against General George Armstrong Custer and his troops, but the army’s defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn in America’s centennial year, 1876, would cause the federal government to redouble its efforts. (Some of the area in which Rushmore stands was eventually purchased by the state of South Dakota and developed as Custer State Park; the rest was part of the Black Hills National Forest.) South Dakota was also the site of the last major defeat of Native Americans at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.
In his bestselling 1970 history of Native Americans’ experiences in the West, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown explains that the “battle” was actually a massacre where hundreds of unarmed Sioux women, children, and men were shot and killed by U.S. troops. The history of Wounded Knee would spur American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) activists to occupy the site in 1973. They demanded the federal government honor the treaties made with various tribes. The FBI became involved in what became known as the Second Siege at Wounded Knee, and a tense standoff resulted in the death of two Native Americans and injury to others on both sides. Violence continued to erupt for several years, including a June 26, 1975 firefight on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that ended with the death of two FBI agents and one Native American. In a case that continues to spur controversy, A.I.M. member Leonard Peltier was convicted of killing the FBI agents, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison.
In 1927, with a history of turmoil as a background, a white man living in Connecticut came into the Black Hills and dynamited and drilled the faces of four white men onto Mount Rushmore. At the outset of the project, Gutzon Borglum had persuaded South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson the presidents would give the work national significance, rejecting Robinson’s initial suggestion that the sculpture honor the West’s greatest heroes, both Native Americans and pioneers.
The insult of Rushmore to some Sioux is at least three-fold:
- It was built on land the government took from them.
- The Black Hills in particular are considered sacred ground.
- The monument celebrates the European settlers who killed so many Native Americans and appropriated their land.
The Sordid History of Mount Rushmore
The sculptor behind the American landmark had some unseemly ties to white supremacy groups
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE [ SMITHSONIANMAG.COM ]
Each year, two million visitors walk or roll from the entrance of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in South Dakota, to the Avenue of Flags, to peer up at the 60-foot visages of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Dedicated 75 years ago this month, Mount Rushmore was intended by its creator, Gutzon Borglum, to be a celebration of not only these four presidents but also the nation’s unprecedented greatness. Yet Borglum’s own sordid story shows that this beloved site is also a testament to the ego and ugly ambition that undergird even our best-known triumphs.
In 1914, Borglum was a sculptor in Connecticut of modest acclaim when he received an inquiry from the elderly president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, C. Helen Plane, about building a “shrine to the South” near Atlanta. When he first glimpsed “the virgin stone” of his canvas, a quartz hump called Stone Mountain, Borglum later recalled, “I saw the thing I had been dreaming of all my life.” He sketched out a vast sculpture of generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and was hired.
The son of polygamist Mormons from Idaho, Borglum had no ties to the Confederacy, but he had white supremacist leanings. In letters he fretted about a “mongrel horde” overrunning the “Nordic” purity of the West, and once said, “I would not trust an Indian, off-hand, 9 out of 10, where I would not trust a white man 1 out of 10.” Above all, he was an opportunist. He aligned himself with the Ku Klux Klan, an organization reborn—it had faded after the Civil War—in a torch-light ceremony atop Stone Mountain in 1915. While there isn’t proof that Borglum officially joined the Klan, which helped fund the project, “he nonetheless became deeply involved in Klan politics,” John Taliaferro writes in Great White Fathers, his 2002 history of Mount Rushmore.
Anyone who creates an immensely popular sculpture by dynamiting 450,000 tons of stone from the Black Hills deserves recognition. Taliaferro says we like to think of America as the land of the self-made success, but the “flip side of that coin,” he says, “is that it’s our very selfishness—enlightened, perhaps, but primal in its drive for self-advancement—that is the building block of our red-white-and-blue civilization.” And no one represents that paradox better than Gutzon Borglum.
The real history of Mount Rushmore
A tourist mecca cut from stone and a sinister delusion of destiny.
By Ron Way July 29, 2016 [ startribune.com ]
The back story of Mount Rushmore is hardly a rich history of a shared democratic ideal. Some see the monument in the Black Hills as one of the spoils of violent conquest over indigenous tribes by a U.S. Army clearing the way for white settlers driven westward by a lust for land and gold. As it was in colonial America, the young country’s expansion was fueled by “Manifest Destiny” — a self-supreme notion that any land coveted by Euro-Americans was, by providence, rightfully theirs for the taking.
The presidents on Mount Rushmore reside in favored historical positions, of course. Their contributions to building America are amply documented and widely revered. But the four also sanctioned, and themselves practiced, dominance over those with darker skin.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Abraham Lincoln famously emancipated slaves, but he supported eradicating Indian tribes from western lands and approved America’s largest-ever mass execution, the hanging of 38 Dakota in Mankato for their alleged crimes in the 1862 war along the Minnesota River. Teddy Roosevelt, in his “The Winning of the West,” wrote: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are … .”
The infamous Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 (incredibly, the U.S. called it a “battle” and awarded medals to its “heroes”) was the last of America’s long, violent campaigns to subdue indigenous tribes all across the continent. “Manifest Destiny” has a long, sinister history that some say lives on today as “American exceptionalism.”
[ ** Manifest Destiny : the 19th-century doctrine or belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable. It is a phrase coined in 1845, that supports the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. Manifest destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. This ultimately led to confrontations and wars with several groups of native peoples via Indian removal. ]
This next article was written by a Native American. This issue is very personal to him. And, in the end, he shows us how to turn a negative into a positive if given the opportunity:
The Six Grandfathers Before It Was Known as Mount Rushmore
(Part II in a series of articles which attempt to give more perspective into the truths our history books are avoiding.) [ blog.nativehope.org ]
The Little Bighorn Battlefield [Greasy Grass] is now a national monument. “This [the Little Bighorn Battlefield] represents the end of the way of life for the Indian people,’ the superintendent, Gerard Baker, said as he gestured toward the battlefield in the rolling hills of southern Montana, which was crowded with tourists…‘When Indian people come here, they cry and they get mad for the loss of that way of life, that freedom. It’s something we’ll never get back. That’s what this place is for.’”
Prior to the Battle of Greasy Grass in 1874, gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, some 330 miles southeast. Custer laid claim to the discovery. This brought miners and prospectors to the area. The U.S. government constructed roads and railroads within the Great Sioux Nation breaching the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty—this breach sparked several conflicts with Custer and the U.S. Cavalry.
When the Sioux and their allies defeated Custer and members of the 7th Cavalry, there was a call for swift retaliation. Two months later in August of 1876, the U.S. enacted “Sell or Starve” which withheld promised food rations from the tribes that defeated Custer and his men. The U.S. wanted the Black Hills—its gold and other resources. After suffering and starving, the Lakota relinquished their claim to their sacred lands: the Black Hills [Paha Sapa]. The Act of 1877 was another breach of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. A Congressional Act forced Indians onto reservations and the U.S. federal government took ownership of the Black Hills. Within the next few years, the Lakota and neighboring tribes faced the genocide of their culture, traditions, land—everything was gone. Sacred places like Wind Cave, Devil’s Tower, Black Elk Peak, and Six Grandfathers Mountain (now Mount Rushmore—named after a wealthy NY lawyer in 1885) were now in the hands of the Euro-Americans. This was devastating.
The story behind Mt. Rushmore
The Six Grandfathers (Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe) was named by Lakota medicine man Nicolas Black Elk after a vision. Q“The vision was of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below. The directions were said to represent kindness and love, full of years and wisdom, like human grandfathers.” The granite bluff that towered above the Hills remained carved only by the wind and the rain until 1927 when Gutzon Borglum began his assault on the mountain.
In the 1920s, South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson saw the Six Grandfathers as an opportunity for the state of SD to increase tourism through the Black Hills area. The controversial sculptor Gutzon Borglum was hired to create a sculpture “to honor the West’s greatest heroes, both Native Americans and pioneers.” Borglum wanted a Nationally significant monument and convinced the SD state historian to use the faces of U.S. notable presidents.
For 14 years, Borglum blasted, chiseled, and filed the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln in the granite bluff. For the Lakota, this was just one more violating act of colonization. While these presidents were leaders of the United States, each with notable historical significance, their faces on a sacred mountain was a final act of conquest. Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Roosevelt coined the phrase: “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” While Lincoln, on the day after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ordered the execution of the Dakota 38+2 at Fort Snelling in Minnesota.
Needless to say, Mount Rushmore [Six Grandfathers Mountain] is known as a shrine to democracy. Its image is synonymous with freedom and patriotism; however, the other side of its story demonstrates the lack of understanding and respect shown to the Native people who inhabited Paha Sapa for generations prior to European arrival.
Sharing a new narrative at Mount Rushmore
Gerard Baker became the first Native American superintendent of Mount Rushmore in 2004 (2004-2010). In his acceptance speech at the monument, Baker explained that the choice to take the helm at Mount Rushmore was a challenge. He cites that the narrative shared by the National Park service only outlined the first centuries of America and the four presidents.
And this is a challenge for me because I believe that we should go back before that time. I want to show what life was like before George Custer found gold in the Black Hills, before (Gutzon) Borglum came in and started carving the sculptures here,” he said.
[ **I LOVE THIS 💕❤️💕: ]
That is exactly what Baker did. He erected a teepee at the monument. One day he saw 20-30 visitors standing around the teepee—many asking each other about the structure and its purpose at Mount Rushmore. Gerald took this as an invitation to educate the group. He spoke about the history of the land and the people, soon the group grew to a crowd of nearly 200. The simple placement of the teepee started what today is the Heritage Village where the traditions and customs of the Native people are highlighted.
It’s not just a teepee here,” Baker says. “We’re promoting all cultures of America. That’s what this place is. This is Mount Rushmore! It’s America! Everybody’s something different here; we’re all different. And just maybe that gets us talking again as human beings, as Americans.”
As we look forward to this Independence Day holiday weekend, let us reflect upon the Untold Story of Native America. We must understand the true history of this great nation in order to move forward together as a nation of men and women who are created equal.
I didn’t watch the July 4, 2020 celebration at Mt. Rushmore this year. Brian and I quietly went to our nation’s capital. We walked down the newly named “Black Lives Matter Plaza” without the crowds and the rioting. We saw the posters and photos of black men, women and children that have died because of police brutality attached to the black safety fence erected around the White House. I saw a man that moved me to tears as he stood across the street from St. John’s Episcopal Church, the one that our president had peaceful protesters forcibly and violently removed, so he could walk across to and use it as a photo op background. Except, this man that I saw that day, with no cameras present, was reading scripture in front of that church, not holding the Bible as a prop.
I finally got to see a transcript of the president’s speech. I found it to be partisan and not very uplifting to ALL Americans. Much to the dismay of some, I am going to comment on certain passages :
Remarks by President Trump at South Dakota’s 2020 Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration / Keystone, South Dakota
Issued on: July 4, 2020 [ whitehouse.gov ]
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”
No one is trying to wipe out history or change ACTUAL history. The point is, we and
our children have already been indoctrinated . Yes, I want to wipe out the sanitized
history forced on all of us due to the targeted educational campaign driven by the
Daughters of the Confederacy (look at the FACTS presented in a previous post). We
want to stop the glorification of the losing side in a war against the United States. The
side that fought to keep blacks in the country enslaved. We want people to realize no
one is a saint on either side. All people have flaws. All people have had lapses of
sound or rational or moral judgement at some point in their lives. It doesn’t negate
the good things that we all have done, but it is a part of our composition. And if your values
desire to keep blacks as second-class citizens in this country, I suppose we will exert an
effort to erase that notion.
“One of their political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.”
This is totally alarmist supposition. This is designed for shock value, with very little
substance. If someone clues you in on a fact that shows you that a statement is
incorrect, that is being totally misconstrued as someone is trying too shame you.
If you were in a math class and answered 2+2=5, your teacher would correct you
and instruct you of the correct answer. Is he or she trying to shame you?? No; they
want you to have a full understanding of the knowledge of math. Having an abstract
or conceptual idea is different than a factual idea. No one is demanding “total submission”
to anything. Trying to open up the dialog is being met with such resistance – this is my
opinion and it will always be my opinion.” To be brutally honest, these are the tactics the
president uses himself. He has hired and fired staff or caused them to resign if they don’t
totally submit to him. He’s shamed then in the media. “Cancel Culture” is his personal kind of
“In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.”
Another alarmist statement meant as a decisive tactic. Again, these are the tactic he uses
himself with anyone that doesn’t personally agree with him. I won’t waste time or space here,
but I can cite specific people and instances to back this up if requested. I have no idea who or
what he is referring to here…..except himself.
“The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions.”
Again, using space and time on an occasion meant to celebrate ALL Americans, as
a partisan campaign speech. So he just let the country know on a day meant for
everyone, he has contempt for the opposite political party. He doesn’t even realize
what he is claiming actually backs up the Lost Cause doctrine we were indoctrinated
with….what we are fighting to expose and correct.
“Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains. The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition.”
That is such bull!! Maybe his children are taught that, but no educational system I know
of teaches children to hate their country. We are not talking about fictional characters like
Superman or Captain America. Our heroes are (or were) real people, who did extraordinary things, flaws
and all. No one is teaching that they all are villains either. But some of our history is ALREADY
disfigured beyond recognition. Those are the lies. We just want ACTUAL history to be known
and taught. If people wanting to know the truth is RADICAL, so be it.
“The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice. But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society. It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion.“
I’m kind of speechless on this…..
So he just wants things to stay the same for people of color because if we did have
social justice for black and brown people it would demolish justice and society??
It already is repressive, dominated through “white privilege”, and exclusionary of people of
color. We blacks no nothing of this free and inclusive society that he is talking about.
That is what we wish we had.
“We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed. Every child, of every color — born and unborn — is made in the holy image of God.”
What is a “belief” is not supported by the actual realization of this concept
in this country. If it were true, we would not be seeing unrest now, fifty,
or hundreds of years ago based on the fact that there were, and still are,
“Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny. In toppling the heroes of 1776, they seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country, and that we feel for each other. Their goal is not a better America, their goal is the end of America.”
Again, an alarmist divisive statement. No one wants to end this country. But maybe it
would do us well to come to terms with the fairy tale of our existence. We did not “discover”
America. This land was here and populated by another race of people that we tried to
annihilate. And that we imported another race of people to perform slave labor in the process
of developing and taking over said land. With that realization, we can get off our righteous
“high horse.” We love our country, but it is not perfect. It was not created by perfect
people. It is not inhabited by perfect people that belong to one perfect political party or the
other. We want a better America for ALL people, including the displaced ones.
“We will never let them rip America’s heroes from our monuments, or from our hearts. By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War…. They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery in America and, ultimately, around the world, ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years. Our opponents would tear apart the very documents that Martin Luther King used to express his dream, and the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for Civil Rights. They would tear down the beliefs, culture, and identity that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the Earth.”
Again, we are not trying to erase history. These remembrances have a place in
society. No one is trying to tear down Washington and Jefferson. They were on the
right side of America’s history and will be honored as such. Yes, they had flaws, just like
everyone else. But we are the only country I am aware of that celebrates and reveres
the losing side. I always cite that the Nazis were on the losing side of their nation’s history.
You don’t see statues of Hitler and his henchmen all over Germany. And no, they didn’t
try to erase their history. The concentration camps are still there as historical sites. Other
places are designated sites as remembrances of history , but the annihilation of their Jewish
people is not celebrated!! It is illegal to fly the flag bearing the swastika in Germany. Yet we
perpetuate the myth that the Civil War was not based on the desire to permanently
enslave black people. And we put up reminders of these people everywhere, and proudly
fly a flag that was designed (in the words of the creator of that flag) to remind black people that
are are to be considered less than whites.
I wish he would not use MLK’s actions here. He is praising him for establishing the
foundation of the Civil Rights movement, only minutes after previously stating “the radical
ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice. But in truth,
it would demolish both justice and society.” Who is he calling “our opponents”?? The
black and white people who are protesting for the realization of the principles MLK set
forth? King’s movement was non-violent, and it was met with extreme violence on the
part of the whites that wanted blacks to stay oppressed. I think that is a perfect example
that America was not the most “tolerant society in the history of the Earth.” Yes, things
have improved, but there is still a long way to go. There are instances of violence
exhibited by some protesters, and now you say that means all of us are radical, and hate our
country and want to destroy it. A lot of this violence has been proven to have white
supremacists causing the destruction to make the BLM movement look bad.
“We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed “a promissory note” to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us — the founding ideals. He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage.”
Here we go again quoting MLK. If the Founding Fathers had signed a “promissory note”,
how many “future generations” have to endure the inequities before we reach fruition??
The Declaration of Independence was ratified in 1776. The Constitution was ratified by
all the states in 1790. Ten amendments, known as the Bill if Rights, were ratified in 1791.
King said what he said 50 years ago. And we are still fighting the same battles!!
What are the “founding ideals” and why have they still not been realized for blacks in this
country? Does he even know what “heritage” King was referring too? Certainly King was
not talking about preserving the rightness of the Confederate’s beliefs concerning black
people !!??!! Black people have a proud heritage that was never taught to us or others
in the past. We have a proud heritage too that needs to be recognized.