Mount Rushmore Controversy: U.N. Official States Black Hills Should Be Returned To Native Americans

The United Nations believes that America needs to give the Black Hills (including Mount Rushmore) back to the Sioux Indians, who were forcibly removed from the “sacred land” by the U.S. government.

U.N. Official James Anaya has spent time in the United States analyzing the rights of indigenous peoples and researching suggested ways to reconcile with Native Americans.

Included in his report, which was unveiled in Geneva on Friday, is the suggestion that American needs to give the Black Hills back to the Native American tribes that occupied the land before settlers arrived.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of South Dakota, the Black Hills happen to include Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is still under construction. The Associated Press writes that:

“Anaya said land restoration would help bring about reconciliation. He named the Black Hills as an example. He said restoring to indigenous people what they have a legitimate claim to can be done in a way that is not divisive “so that the Black Hills, for example, isn’t just a reminder of the subordination and domination of indigenous peoples in that country.

“The Black Hills, home to Mount Rushmore, are public land but are considered sacred by the Sioux tribes. The Sioux have refused to accept money awarded in a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision and have sought return of the land. The Black Hills and other lands were set aside for the Sioux in an 1868 treaty. But Congress passed a law in 1877 taking the land.”

In his statement at the U.N. human rights office in Geneva on Friday, Anaya stated:

“I have heard stories that make evident the profound hurt that indigenous peoples continue to feel because of the history of oppression they have faced. Securing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands is of central importance to indigenous peoples’ socioeconomic development, self-determination, and cultural integrity. … Continued efforts to resolve, clarify, and strengthen the protection of indigenous lands, resources, and sacred sites should be made.”

James Anaya spent 12 days in the U.S. on his fact-finding mission, and will release a report later this year that includes his full set of recommendations regarding reconciliation with Native Americans.