SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s plan to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore is angering Native Americans who say the Rushmore memorial is as reprehensible as the many Confederate monuments being toppled around the nation.
Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s July 3 visit, part of his “comeback” campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and social unrest.
While some activists want to see the monument removed and the land returned to the Lakota Tribe, others have called for a share of the economic benefits from the region.
Regarding the diverse views on the meaning of Mount Rushmore, Governor Noem told Fox News on Wednesday, “These men have flaws, obviously every leader has flaws, but we’re missing the opportunity we have in this discussion to talk about the virtues and what they brought to this country, and the fact that this is the foundation that we’re built on and the heritage we should be carrying forward.”
As monuments to Confederate and Colonial leaders have been removed nationwide, some conservatives have expressed fear that Mount Rushmore could be next. Commentator Ben Shapiro this week suggested that the “woke historical revisionist priesthood” wanted to blow up the monument. Noem responded by tweeting, “Not on my watch.”
The July 3 event is slated to have fighter jets thunder over the 79-year-old monument and the first fireworks display since 2009.
Some wildfire experts have raised concerns the event’s pyrotechnics could spark fires, especially because the region has seen dry weather this year. Recently, fire crews from two other states were called in to help with Thursday’s blaze that consumed approximately 150 acres about six miles south of the monument.
Mount Rushmore was conceived in the 1920s as a tourist draw for the new fad in vacationing called the road trip.