Smudging with sage, a demonstrator stands before a no-trespass banner during a #LandBack protests on Sioux Nation treaty territory in South Dakota on July 3, 2020. Photo courtesy Chyna Lockett

Native Sun News Today: ‘Tunkasila Sakpe’ -- Mt. Rushmore

Part I: 'Return the Black Hills' chant greets Trump

KEYSTONE, South Dakota -- The Shrine of Democracy, as Mt. Rushmore Memorial is often called, was named after New York City attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who was verifying property titles in 1884 when he asked local guide Bill Challis the name of this mountain.

Challis replied, "Never had a name but from now on we'll call it Rushmore," according to the non-profit publication National Parks Traveler.

However, the Native people from whom the location was usurped by treaty violation called it Tuŋkášila Šákpe, the name in the Lakota language for The Six 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.”

So goes the oral history, as captured by the Chamberlain-based non-profit Native Hope, which advocates to reverse “injustice done to Native Americans.” One of its main tool’s is storytelling – to dismantle barriers and promote healing, it says.

Lakota holy man Nicholas Black Elk named The Six Grandfathers after a vision “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,” Native Hope documents.

Borglum, fresh from sculpting on the massive Confederate Memorial bas relief at Stone Mountain in Georgia, answered the call of Black Hills tourism industry promoters to create a carving on this granite outcrop “to honor the West’s greatest heroes, both Native Americans and pioneers.”

However, Borglum had his own kind of vision and convinced backers to let him chisel and blast out the busts of U.S. President George Washington alongside White House successors Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

At U.S. President Donald Trump’s July 3 reelection campaign-stop here, he received applause for saying, “Today, we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.”

He took advantage of the backdrop to fan the flames of national controversy over racist symbols in public art, part of unrest ignited a month earlier with the death of Black Minneapolis resident George Floyd under the knee of a white officer, in an incident proclaimed murder by the police chief.

“For the People. For the Land” - Nick Tilsen , CEO and President of @ndncollective • In the last 4 days we have seen a huge growth in solidarity and in support. Wóphila Thánka (thank you) to each and everyone of you who has joined us here and is now on this journey with us • We thought we would take this movement to re-introduce ourselves and share a bit about our work. @ndncollective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms • Here at @ndncollective there are three pillars which we commit our work to , they are: DEFEND • DEVELOP • DECOLONIZE. We see through each of these perspectives when building solutions or creating strategies for Indigenous power • Each of those pillars was upheld during the resistance at Mt. Rushmore. We defended our sovereign and treaty protected territories. We developed actions and strategies to protect those who were arrested. And we decolonized a moment in which #45 was attempting to erase us and build his campaign of hate, instead we turned the national attention to our people and our message , which is #landback • To learn more about our work visit the link in bio and please continue to amplify this moment, please continue to donate to the legal fund. Our resistance and collective movement to dismantle white supremacy, to #defundthepolice, to build Black and Indigenous Power is only beginning • #defenddevelopdecolonize #defendblacklives #landback

Posted by NDNCollective on Tuesday, July 7, 2020
NDNCollective: “For the People. For the Land” - Nick Tilsen

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children,” Trump said. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

He received more applause for saying, “I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mt. Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”

Meanwhile, what turned out to be a total of 20 Native Americans and accomplices who organized a civil disobedience action against the “trespass” on Lakota treaty lands were hauled off to jail.

Less than 80 years since the completion of the mountain carving, more than one participant in the civil disobedience demonstration triggered by the campaign stop here recast it as the Shrine of Hypocrisy.


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