For today’s American Culture and History lesson, we’re going to learn about Mount Rushmore and The Crazy Horse Memorial.
South Dakota is a state in the United States that has always been heavily populated by Native Americans, which we also call American Indians. This is where both the Mount Rushmore monument and the Crazy Horse memorial can be found, just 15 miles away from each other. Both are monumentous (word play on momentous :)) rock sculptures, Mt. Rushmore of four remarkable presidents that helped build the United States and Crazy Horse, a Native American war hero who was known for protecting Indian culture and its land from the takeover of the US government. Seems sort of political doesn’t it?
It is, actually. And it’s a short story, but one that illustrates early relationships between the U.S. government and the Native Americans. So to the Lakota Indians, one of the prominent American Indian tribes in the Black Hills, the Black Hills were sacred. Within the hills were the burial sites of their relatives and it was an area for prayer, for dance and for worship. The hills were central and are still central to their culture. Long ago, before Mount Rushmore was carved, the United States knew this and they dedicated this land to the American Indians as part of the Great Sioux Indian Reservation, with a treaty called Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. However, when gold was found there, just six years later, the United States government took the land back. That’s right. They promised to protect that land from being settled by white men. But then they went back on their word. They settled the land, mined it for gold and for silver and forced the Native Americans of that region to relocate.
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