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Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

A Trump rally rejected in sacred land

The Oglala Sioux tribe of South Dakota blocked a highway ahead of the president’s Mount Rushmore Fourth of July display.  

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Over the Fourth of July weekend, President Trump visited Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a speech and fireworks display. Many Native Americans were angered by this decision and held a protest blocking a highway, to show that Trump was not welcome there.

For the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Mount Rushmore is a painful reminder of the genocide committed against their ancestors and the colonization and oppression that still persists today. 

The insult of Mount Rushmore has three layers for many Sioux members.

Firstly, it was built on land that the government took away from them. The Treaty of 1868 recognized the Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation, set aside for exclusive use by the Sioux people.

This only lasted until gold was found in the mountains and prospectors migrated there.

The federal government then forced the Sioux to give up the Black Hills part of their land. They still refer to the sacred site where Mount Rushmore was erected as Paha Sapa, meaning Six Grandfathers, earth, sky and the four directions in the Sioux language.

Secondly, all of the Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore is located, is considered sacred land.

And lastly, the monument glorifies the European settlers who killed so many Native Americans and appropriated their land.

During the demonstration, a group of Native women sang and protesters held signs with messages like “you are on stolen land,” “land water defender,” and “dismantle white supremacy.”

By 7:15 pm, police were on the scene and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Fifteen protesters were arrested for refusing to leave.

“People were telling us to ‘go home’ and that’s where we were, on our sacred home lands. It shows how the American education system white-washes history and ignores the amount of injustice, genocide and inequality that this country was built on,” Laura Ten Fingers, one of the organizers told Native News Online.

An Oglala Sioux spiritual elder, Hehakaho Waste, furthered Ten Fingers’ statement by decrying the ignorance of President Donald Trump. 

“The President needs to open his eyes. We’re people too, and it was our land first,” he said.

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