More than 100 treaty defenders and other protesters gathered on a highway leading to Mount Rushmore on Friday ahead of President Tweety McTreason’s speech at the monument, reports Indian Country Today.
“The group blocked the road, holding banners and chanting slogans such as ‘We can’t breathe’ and proclaiming treaty rights. They carried signs with messages such as, ‘End 500 years of Genocide,’ and ‘It’s a good day to do the right thing,’ ” reports the news outlet.
Wow. Indigenous protesters have blocked the road to Trump event tonight at Mount Rushmore (a sacred Lakota site in the Black Hills)
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 3, 2020
The Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore is located, is unceded territory in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and acknowledged by a 1980 Supreme Court ruling in the United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians.
“At one point, Native women in ribbon skirts created a line across the highway, behind them members of NDN Collective, a nonprofit Native advocacy organization, parked white vans across the road and deflated the tires,” reports ICT.
Protesters were heard shouting, “this is our land!”
Around 5 p.m. local time, law enforcement declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly and told defenders to vacate the area or face arrest.
Law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear held shields and formed a line across the road, pushing up against a group of protesters.
“We don’t need them to give us permission to do this on our land; we intend to stay here indefinitely throughout the night,” said Nick Tilson, Oglala Lakota, of NDN Collective. “Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy. When you carve out four white men who conducted genocide against Native people in this sacred place, it is fundamentally wrong.”
smoke bombs pic.twitter.com/P3X8qX3huB
— Bill Maxwell 😷 ByeDon2020 (@Bill_Maxwell_) July 3, 2020
At 7 p.m., police arrested a small group of treaty defenders who continued the blow the highway. About 15 people were arrested, The Associated Press reported.
“Several groups of Natives had planned to travel to the monument to voice their opposition to Trump’s visit, his policies that are seen as challenges to tribal sovereignty and the very presence of Mount Rushmore, which features faces of American presidents carved into a mountain held sacred by many tribes in the region,” ICT reports.
Oglala Lakota tribe member Nick Tilsen says Mount Rushmore is a “symbol of white supremacy.”
“When you carve out four white men who were colonizers, who committed genocides against indigenous people … and for that to be okay in society today is fundamentally wrong.” pic.twitter.com/mrnM4RJgpC
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 3, 2020