The news is out: [While many Americans view Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as great leaders, others are reminded of their controversial pasts.
Washington and Jefferson both owned slaves; Roosevelt promoted the country’s westward expansion, leading to the desecration of Native lands and peoples by white settlers.
According to the Associated Press, Roosevelt is even reported to have said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are.”
And Lincoln, though celebrated for having led the emancipation of black slaves, approved the hanging of 38 Dakota Native American men, according to the Library of Congress. It was the largest government sanctioned mass execution in U.S. history.
Mount Rushmore historian Tom Griffith told the AP the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was a member of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. Though Griffith said Borglum’s allegiance to the Confederacy was more practical than ideological, his affiliations nonetheless stood for hatred and inequality.
The monument is also a reminder to Native Americans of the countless treaties broken by the U.S. government.
According to both the Lakota tribe and the United States Supreme Court, the Black Hills should never have been taken by the United States government.
In 1868, the Fort Laramie Treaty guaranteed a permanent “Great Sioux Reservation” to the Sioux tribe, which included the Black Hills. Under this agreement, “no treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the reservation” could be sold or traded unless 75% of “adult male Indians” agreed to the change.
But despite this treaty establishing the Black Hills as part of a reservation, white settlers began moving onto Lakota land searching for gold. Tribes in the area tried to fight them off, but they were also facing a threat of starvation as many of the bison herds in the area were destroyed.
In 1873, a group of Lakota men agreed to cede the Black Hills in exchange for the U.S. government providing food. That group of men made up just 10% of the male population of the tribe. But the U.S. government proceeded to take that land, and by 1941 the four presidents’ faces were carved into the mountainside.]
America was great before 1492, then the scum of the Earth, floating from Europe, invaded the country.