South Dakota governor on taking down Mount Rushmore: 'Not on my watch'

  • In Politics
  • 2020-06-24 16:54:28Z
South Dakota governor on taking down Mount Rushmore: \
South Dakota governor on taking down Mount Rushmore: \'Not on my watch\'  

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Statues of former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have been defaced, torn down by protesters or are being removed across the country.

Where does that leave Mount Rushmore, which displays two of those presidents in huge granite in South Dakota's Black Hills?

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has a simple response to those that question whether it will be taken down: "Not on my watch."

Noem tweeted her support for the monument in response to a tweet from conservative pundit Ben Shapiro: "So, when is our woke historical revisionist priesthood going to insist on blowing up Mount Rushmore?"

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Noem's quote tweet of Shapiro's has been retweeted almost 15,000 times as of Wednesday and comes amid protests around the country that have led to other statues, especially those of Confederate leaders or historical figures with known racist pasts, being removed.

The controversial side of Mount Rushmore goes beyond the slave holding pasts of Washington and Jefferson, however.

Native American tribes were given the Black Hills in perpetuity in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. But miners seeking gold came into the area in an expedition led by Gen. George Custer in 1874 and demanded the U.S. Army's protection. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1876 cut off all rations until the Lakota ended hostilities and ceded the Black Hills to the federal government.

The U.S. Court of Claims found in 1979 that the Sioux Nation was entitled to $17.1 million in compensation due to the federal government's seizure of the Black Hills. The following year, U.S. Supreme Court decided 8-1 that the federal government had violated the Fifth Amendment and the tribes were entitled to compensation in United State v. Sioux Nation of Indians. The tribes declined the compensation because it would legally end their demand for the Black Hills to be returned to them.

Several requests were denied in the early 1980s to return millions of acres of the Black Hills to the tribes, as well as bills in Congress that would have returned some of the land.

The effort to settle the land dispute was revived in 2009 and a United Nations report in 2012 said that Indigenous land, including the Black Hills, should be returned.

The monument, which also features Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, will be thrust into the spotlight even more next week when President Donald Trump and Noem visit on July 3 for the first fireworks display in more than 10 years.

Contributing: Lisa Kaczke

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says no to taking down Mount Rushmore


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