Who are the Lakotas? How the first Native American tribes are connected to the dark history of Mount Rushmore

The Native Americans have criticized the sculpture as it was built on their land. In the wake of the recent nationwide movements against racism, many have come forward to demand Mount Rushmore to be taken down


                            Who are the Lakotas? How the first Native American tribes are connected to the dark history of Mount Rushmore
(Getty Images)

The Lakota people, also known as Teton Sioux, were one of the original native American Tribes to inhabit the Rocky Mountain ranges but got pushed further towards the west by European settlers to Missouri and South Dakota over a period of time. The Lakotas eventually settled around the Black Hills, which became their sacred land, and adapted to the plains-life. They indulged in fur trade with bison as a significant part of their culture. When the trade flourished and outsiders began to eye on the Lakota’s prosperity, the US government, in an attempt to resolve the disputes, made the tribes sign the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 besides offering them protection. 

However, open war broke between the Lakotas and the US government when a few members of the Indian Peace Commission tried negotiating the treaty in 1876. A new treaty was formed by the Supreme Court in 1980 and ruled that the tribal lands allotted under the original treaty were illegally taken from the US government, and declared that the Lakotas would be paid $100 million in reparations. However, the tribal community refused to accept the compensation and has been demanding the return of their land.

The Black Hills also consist of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which was executed between 1927 and 1941. The sculpture features the faces of President Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. For a long time, the Native Americans have criticized the sculpture as it was built on their land, which once served their livelihood. In the wake of the recent nationwide movement against racism, many have come forward to demand Mount Rushmore to be taken down. 

Many internet users supported this thought and flooded Twitter with posts demanding the government to return the Indigenous land to the Lakotas. Expressing their disapproval towards the idea of continuing to have Mount Rushmore as a national monument one Twitter user wrote, “ That’s the thing about Mount Rushmore. It doesn’t even belong to the United States. It’s Lakota land. Your opinion on the monument is inconsequential unless you’re supporting #landback.” While another user added, “OK, If someone takes something that is not theirs & they are not stopped YES it's theirs & they can do what they want. Its happened in the world forever, does war sound familiar? Now in America there are laws, Lakota SHOULD sue & take back their land & do has they wish.”

“The Lakota are part of the Great Sioux Nation. I generalized for simplicity. It should still be given back to the Lakota as it is their sacred ground.” read another tweet. 

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