Mount Rushmore Controversy: South Dakota Governor Clashes with Ben & Jerry’s Over Indigenous Land Claims

Debating the Significance and History of Mount Rushmore Controversy: A Battle Between Preservation and Indigenous Rights

Mount Rushmore Controversy: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Ben & Jerry’s have engaged in a heated exchange over the iconic Mount Rushmore. The ice cream company launched a campaign on July Fourth, urging the return of the monument to Indigenous populations, but Governor Noem swiftly criticized the move. Let’s delve into the details and understand the controversy surrounding Mount Rushmore.

Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont-based ice cream company known for its social activism, ignited the dispute with its latest campaign. The company claims that Mount Rushmore sits on “stolen Indigenous land” and should be returned. In a statement, Ben & Jerry’s specifically highlighted the history behind the monument, asserting that it was desecrated and dynamited to honor four white men—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The company further alleged that these men had been hostile towards Indigenous people and their values, with two of them even being slave owners.

Governor Noem, appearing on Fox News, dismissed Ben & Jerry’s campaign and expressed her refusal to heed the opinions of “a bunch of liberal Vermont businessmen” who lack a deep understanding of American history. She criticized their attempt to undermine the significance of Mount Rushmore, referring to it as the “greatest symbol of our freedom and history of the United States of America.” Noem commended the four presidents depicted on the monument, stating that they guided the nation through challenging times and that there is much to learn from their leadership.

In its defense, Ben & Jerry’s detailed the historical and cultural significance of the land upon which Mount Rushmore stands. The company highlighted that the mountain, known as the Tunkasila Sakpe to the Lakota Sioux, is considered sacred. Additionally, the surrounding area, known as the Black Hills, holds great spiritual value for the Lakota Sioux tribe. Ben & Jerry’s emphasized that Indigenous tribes signed treaties with the U.S. government in the 19th century, allowing them to reside in the Black Hills as their permanent home. However, after gold was discovered in the region, the government reneged on its agreement and forcefully displaced the Great Sioux Nation once again.

The clash between Governor Noem and Ben & Jerry’s encapsulates a larger debate concerning the legacy of colonialism and the treatment of Indigenous peoples. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist attraction, is undoubtedly a significant symbol in American history. However, critics argue that the monument’s creation led to the displacement of Indigenous communities and the desecration of sacred land. Supporters of the campaign believe it is essential to acknowledge and address this dark aspect of Mount Rushmore’s history.

In conclusion, the controversy surrounding Ben & Jerry’s campaign calling for the return of Mount Rushmore to Indigenous populations has sparked a fierce debate. Governor Noem staunchly defends the monument’s significance as a symbol of American freedom and history, while the ice cream company highlights the historical and cultural importance of the land to Indigenous tribes. This clash reflects the broader discussion on the legacy of colonialism and the ongoing efforts to recognize and rectify past injustices.