Why Native Americans are protesting Trump's celebration at Mount Rushmore

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/03/why-native-americans-are-prote.html


I know asking a question in a headline is an editorial technique to pique interest, but I kinda feel like the answer to this one is really just a more specific version of the main, decades-long answer I hope most readers already know.


Non-native, and not disagreeing with the criticism regarding Mount Rushmore, but having visited Black Hills as well, I wish there was a clearer alternative to contributing to the Crazy Horse Memorial in order to support the Lakota people. There is some dissent over the endorsement of the memorial by the Lakota people (it’s worth pointing out that the memorial isn’t controlled by the Lakota but by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation), an attempt to make a representation of a figure who made a point of not being represented, and a project undertaken by a family whose interest has sometimes been thought of as a money sink and vanity project that is more about the sculptor and his family than the original intention and spirit of the project.

When I visited Crazy Horse, it felt like a tourist trap and a hagiography of Korczak Ziolkowski and the Ziolkowski family. Displays of Native American gratitude to the family through gifts and video exhibits focusing less on the Lakota and more about the grueling process of sculpting rock (in a way, a repetition of the same criticism leveled at Mount Rushmore with a troubled chain of endorsement for the creation of the memorial). It didn’t feel to me like a celebration of any sort of Native American culture, other than the shops selling goods in the memorial complex. Rather, I just felt like I had ended up stuck in a tourist trap, a way of monetizing a sculpture that would never be completed. I guess this is a tangent from the point of the essay, but there must be a better alternative to an authentic engagement and support of the Lakota people than this.


On can go to Pine Ridge and find ways to support them. Ask around, you will find the right place.

In the mean time:

(Firewood is always needed)

And the Trading Post on the reservation is a way to directly support people who live on the reservation. (been there many times, good people all around)


The forgotten thing that keeps coming back for me these days, is what it means to have no immunity to a disease.

White people in North America tell ourselves it was an accident, mostly, that native populations just kind of conveniently vanished from smallpox that they couldn’t resist, never having been exposed to it before. And that’s what lets us off the hook for perpetuating genocide…

But even that lesson sure doesn’t seem to hold much water these days, people are still flinging around words like “herd immunity” when less than 2 or 3 pecent have had the virus.

This year it’s harder than most, to find something to celebrate today.


Agreed. I went there as a teenager in like 92 or 93. It is a fascinating place. The progress the family has made is remarkable but its actual connection to honoring Native Americans is tenuous. It really does seem like a tourist attraction like a mystery spot or anything else. If I ever get back that way I probably will go see it again but I wish it was more pure in its intentions.


Wait until they get a load of Stone Mt Georgia.

A place that should be like Uluru in Australia. But they craved a FU to civil rights on it.


Well, a previously adjudicated unconstitutional taking might play a role, eh?


Actually, I keep seeing white people tsk tsk about incidences of infected blankets, as if government is the source of trouble.

Everyone who came over from Europe had the potential of infecting people. The spread of smallpox generally follows the spread of Europeans, so the Northwest got hit later.

The reality is that the fur traders and explorers brought the disease, and by the time of “settlers” the population was down considerably. Hence relative few saw the people as they had been.

Remember, until about 1803, the US was in a relatively narrow stretch on the East Coast. The damage there was long in thw past. But as the US spread west, theyfaced a stronger people.

The talk of smallpox infected blankets came as more people came over.

It’s not just something “the goverment” did, it’s something that everyone benefitted from. And while it’s hard to tell who led and who followed, a government reflects the population and can’t take sole blame.

People get outraged by the idea of smallpox infected blankets but overlook the spread just by contact. I think if you look from a native perspective it’s “just about everyone was affected by smallpox” rather than “that awful European leader gave us bad blankets”.

Some of what’s needed is to actually pay attention, rather than react to broad things that hit the news.

And yes, people here in Canada were putting up controls and telling otyers not to come me for cigarettes etc, to avoid the Virus. I think some of that is a remembrance of when Eurooean disease run rampant. And as some have said, “washing hands is all good, but what happens if we don’t have running water?”. Pine Ridge is one of the poorer places in the US.

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Apparently a lot of the Trump supporters were yelling “GO HOME!” at the Lakota protesters.

After all these centuries the White Supremacists are still angry at the native peoples for having the gall to exist.


“… celebrating the fourth of July with a fiery display atop South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore.”

I’m guessing it will take the traditional form.


You owe it to yourself listen to this


And the irony of the descendants of illegal immigrants telling a native people to “go home” is completely lost on them…


This is about a lot more than bad sculpture and reckless pyrotechnics.


silly people, getting outraged by things


Infected blankets? How was that a thing? Jon Snow was 1849, so germ theory wasn’t believed until almost the civil war. Did everybody but physicians know about it, or did everybody know about it but physicians denied it because it wasn’t orthodoxy? Fucking orthodoxy.

Assholes gotta’ asshole…


this is kinda fun… short but free (if you’re special).


Humans understood that diseases were contagious long before they learned the existence of viruses and bacteria.

Just because the mechanisms of disease were still a mystery doesn’t mean people weren’t using disease as a form of bio-warfare.


Cecil is on it!

As a white supremacist landgrabber once wrote in a letter:

I will try to inocculate the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard’s Method, and hunt them with English Dogs. Supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.


Yep, and the practice of using disease for biological warfare dates back many centuries prior to the European colonization of the New World. Medieval armies didn’t catapult dead livestock over castle walls just to provide fodder for Monty Python sketches.

Claiming that people couldn’t weaponize Smallpox without understanding germ theory is like claiming people couldn’t have children without understanding how chromosomes work.