After South Dakota's governor vowed to protect Mount Rushmore, at least one Native American leader is calling for it to be taken down. Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner says the monument in the Black Hills not only depicts four white men who led the founding and expansion of a nation at the expense of Natives, but it was carved on tribal land that did not rightfully belong to the government. "To me, it's a great sign of disrespect," Bear Runner tells the Argus Leader, which digs into the history of the 19th-century treaties involved and ensuing legal fights. He wants the monument removed, though not dynamited because he fears damage to the land.
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” Nick Tilsen, an activist and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, tells the AP. “It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land, then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide.” Not helping is that the monument's sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was a reported member of the KKK, per KSTP. But as state Rep. Dusty Johnson sees it, "these presidents championed the cause of freedom." He's introduced legislation that would protect the monument ahead of President Trump's July 3 visit, which will be protested by numerous Native American activists. (Read more Mount Rushmore stories.)