A photo of three people standing in front of Mount Rushmore with their middle fingers held high in the air toward the famous monument has been circulating online, and as might be expected, it is causing quite a stir among people who are outraged by what has been described as “unpatriotic” behavior.
The photo first seems to have gone into wide circulation when it was posted to Twitter by a writer named Lucian Wintrich from right wing website Gateway Pundit. Wintrich seems upset that anyone would dare extend their middle finger toward the stone carvings of the former presidents on Mount Rushmore.
“They break into our country, steal resources, then do s**t like this,” Wintrich said in the tweet. “And libs still wonder why we are pushing for immigration controls.”
The problem with Wintrich’s analysis is that the people depicted in the photo likely did not “break into” the United States. On the contrary, they are indigenous Americans, as model Ari Dee pointed out in a response to Wintrich.
“They are indigenous Americans,” Ari Dee tweeted. “This was a sacred mountain called Six Grandfathers that was revered by Lakota Sioux before it was defiled.”
Ari Dee is correct about the history of Mount Rushmore. While most Americans likely think of Rushmore as anything from a proud monument to patriotism to a quaint roadside attraction, the truth about the history behind it makes it easy to understand why the people in the photo decided to “flip the bird” toward the stone carvings of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
According to Indian Country Today, what is popularly known as Mount Rushmore, but has long been called Six Grandfathers by the Lakota Sioux, is actually located on sacred land in the Black Hills of Dakota — land considered sacred by a number of indigenous tribes. Promised by the United States government that this land would be theirs by the Laramie Treaty of 1868, that treaty was soon broken when an expedition led by General Custer discovered gold in the area in 1874, which led to the removal of the tribes and their relocation to reservations.
The Six Grandfathers before the desecrating vandalism. pic.twitter.com/hdf968f5Ze
— Brian (@watching_crows) February 16, 2017
Readers may recall the Laramie Treaty was in the news last year as part of the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through treaty land. According to NPR, there is a long history of members of the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes fighting for the large tract of land upon which Mount Rushmore, or Six Grandfathers, sits.
Reactions to the photo by many people display either ignorance of or indifference toward the facts behind the questionable history of the Mount Rushmore monument. To them, it’s just a picture of people who look different from them being disrespectful to a monument they feel should be respected and revered. Perhaps with the attention that this incident has brought to Mount Rushmore, people can learn the history and decide for themselves whether the people in the photo were out of line for their political statement.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]