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

In another controversial decision, President Trump is celebrating the fourth of July with a fiery display atop South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. The decision may seem troublesome to anyone worried about things such as the uncontained coronavirus or shooting explosives off the top of a forest. But it is most certainly troublesome for the native Lakota people, who’s sacred Black Hills were desecrated for the purpose of the monument.

On a cross country road trip, I recently drove through South Dakota and spent a day exploring the Black Hills. The drive from Mount Rushmore to the Lakota’s Crazy Horse memorial was a discouraging perpetuation of the white supremacy this country was built off of. During the 17-mile ride, I saw Trump 2020 lawn signs spread throughout the hills. At the base of the road that leads to the Crazy Horse memorial is a wild west themed tourist stop for food and souvenirs. On a street corner nearby, a man dedicated his makeshift booth to selling Trump 2020 t-shirts in every color.

From a non-native perspective, it struck me as an unsettling display of ignorance towards true American history. I can only imagine how upsetting it might be for an Oglala Lakota Native living in a place that does not seem to acknowledge you or your history.

The Oglala speakers I heard from at the memorial said nothing about the president and his impact. However, they did speak about the bloody history of the Black Hills and how it affects them to this day.
In the video above, Simon Moya-Smith, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota nation, explains the conflict and why Native Americans are protesting Trump’s celebration today. Seventy years have passed and the Crazy Horse Memorial is still struggling to be completed. If you are able to and would like to make donations towards it’s completion, click here. -- Maddie Lee