Let’s say it’s 1927 and you’re looking for a place to carve a giant sculpture to increase tourism to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Why not opt for Mount Rushmore, located in an area seized from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876 (despite the fact that the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity)?
The Lakota called this mountain Six Grandfathers but it was spontaneously renamed after Charles E. Rushmore (a prominent New York lawyer) during one of his “big game hunting” expeditions in 1884.
Once you’ve settled on the renamed stolen land, the only question left is this: Which founding and famous faces shall be sculpted into 60-feet high tourist traps? I say it’s best to just let the top candidates speak for themselves:
- George Washington: “Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”
- Thomas Jefferson: “If ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi… in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy them all.”
- Abraham Lincoln: “There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
- Teddy Roosevelt: “Democracy has justified itself by keeping for the white race the best portions of the earth’s surface.”
Sounds like the ideal choices to have their white faces mar the sacred landscape of an indigenous culture—all in the name of tourism!
Postscript (suggestion?): In 1971, members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument and renamed it “Mount Crazy Horse.”