- By Levi Rickert
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s tribal council has voted to ban President Donald Trump and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem from Mount Rushmore.
Trump and Noem are due to arrive tonight at Mount Rushmore in western South Dakota for a pre-July 4th celebration. The celebration will include a fireworks display where 7,500 are expected to attend.
Additional reasons for the ban by the tribal council include Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills, which is in unceded treaty territory and the total lack of government-to-government consultation
Fireworks have been banned at Mount Rushmore for about a decade amid fears about wildfires and groundwater pollution, but that ban went by the wayside per the president’s request for fireworks.
“And this year, resuming the fireworks demonstration is an even greater threat to both humans and nature. Thanks to an extremely dry summer, South Dakota faces a higher than usual risk of wildfires,” writes Cheryl Schreier, the former superintendent of the National Memorial from 2010 – 2019, in a Washington Post opinion piece published Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Oglala President Julian Bear Runner told The Guardian, “The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he’s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and I have to tell him he doesn’t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” Bear Runner said he sent a letter to President Trump telling him he was not welcome to come to the Sioux Nation because there was no consultation between his tribe and the White House.
Beyond the lack of consultation and fear of fires from the fireworks, there is concern by the tribe of the spread of COVID-19.
Bear Runner says his tribal citizens are upset with the presidential visit to the mountain they consider sacred, even though it was desecrated with the carvings with four images of presidents.
“The people are angry. All I can do as a leader is stand back and support them…and to stand with them and help them in every way I can to do what is right.” Bear Runner said.
Bear Runner further said the fact Gov. Noem said there would be no practicing of social distancing at Friday’s event is a threat to his people and to the land.
Protests to the presidential visit are planned by American Indians and their allies at Keystone, S.D., which is the township where Mount Rushmore is located.
More Stories Like ThisOklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt Vetoes Bill Enhancing Public Safety in Oklahoma
Duwamish Tribe Prepares to Sue Federal Government to Secure Tribal Sovereignty
Testimony Requested From Indian Boarding School Survivors and their Descendants
Maine Tribes Secure Legislative Wins—but not Sovereignty
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments for Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.