With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought that now would be a good time for a lesson in US history of the people who were here before us and the despicable actions of the type of immigrants the President keeps warning us about.
The carving of Mount Rushmore began in 1927 with the intention of engraving the faces of four prominent United States presidents into the side of the Black Hills located in South Carolina. There's nothing wrong with wanting to monumentalize these presidents; however, the irony of the location and presidents that were being etched into this location is laughable if not sacrilegious.
The Black Hills are a sacred site to the Oglala Lakota or the Oglala Sioux. It was a part of the creation stories and has much history associated with their tribe. In the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the Sioux Tribe and the United States government were able to agree that a vast part of the land in the Black Hills area, including the Black Hills, is to remain untouched in "use or occupation" by the US Government. However, in 1877 the United States broke the treaty and seized the Black Hills after finding out that it was rich in resources, and they used the land for profit. Then, flashforward to 1927, the sculpting of the four presidents began.
The presidents whose faces are marked on Mount Rushmore are George Washington, Thoman Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. I do not want to discredit the things these men have done for this country to become what it is today. Nevertheless, the actions that these presidents took against Native Americans in their time truly shows the lack of respect European immigrants had when deciding to carve into the Black Hills, towards people who are indigenous to this land.
George Washington was known, not so lovingly, as "Town Destroyer" by the Iroquois Indigenous People due to his attack and destruction of their tribe and overtaking of their homes.
Thomas Jefferson, arguably the most merciful one towards Native Americans out of these four, was the father behind the idea of what led to the Trail of Tears. He believed that Native Americans would be able to preserve their culture if they migrated to the West, because of the occupation of European Immigrants in the land that the Natives had been residing. As we now know, under the leadership of Andrew Jackson, a horrific act of forceful removal of Native Americans began.
Theodore Roosevelt's perception of Native Americans is basically summed up in this quote: "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth". Enough said.
Abraham Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in United States history against 38 Lakota men. And now his face is carved onto their sacred Black Hills.
Once again, I do not want to discredit the good things these men have done. In fact, I'm all for having them monumentalized, just preferably not on the Black Hills. However, clearly, it's too late to stop that from happening. Instead, as open-minded citizens of the United States, we should acknowledge both the success of our country as well as recognize and mourn the unwilling sacrifices and tragedies that occurred to get here.
In 2018, we have a president that is so anti-immigrant in a country that was literally founded by immigrants. If he wants to keep disrespecting immigrants, then we as a people need to personally realize that the worst thing to be done by immigrants has already happened in our country: the genocide and overtaking of the people who are truly indigenous to America. With this understanding, we can be wiser, more compassionate, and have a greater respect for one another, whether you are an immigrant or Native.
If you haven't stopped reading yet, I have happy news about the Lakota tribe!
In 1948, Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Sioux made a dedication to those in attendance, that a memorial would commence in honor of Crazy Horse, a prominent Oglala Lakota warrior. This memorial would be for both Native Americans and non-Natives with the intention to mend the relations between the two and give a better understanding of Native American history.
And guess where it's going to be located? The Black Hills!!
Today, the carving of Crazy Horse is about 10x larger than Mount Rushmore and it hasn't even been completed yet. It is estimated that when the carving is finally done, it will be the tallest monument in the world! Click here to learn more about the monument and the history behind everything and everyone involved in its creation.
Before Thanksgiving comes around, think about what you can do for others. Even if you don't know them and aren't necessarily grateful to them. And if you're ever in South Dakota, maybe think about spending your money on potentially the largest mountain carving in the world instead of elsewhere.