I’ve never been to Mount Rushmore but, like so many other Americans, it remains one of the most iconic visions of my youth. Every child gazes upon photographs of these mammoth heads with absolute fascination. The interest hasn’t waned in my adulthood, and yet strangely I’ve never journeyed to this hallowed mountain.
A great article in the Smithsonian Magazine a couple of months ago delves into the history of this famous landmark. What I never learned in school, however, was the controversy which surrounds it.
The four heads were carved into a mountain which was revered as holy by the local American Indians. The U.S. government had originally promised to protect the mountain but reneged on its deal with the Indians (big surprise). The white usurpers then carved visages of their idols onto the face of the holy mountain, causing Indians throughout the region to cry sacrilege. The Indians are still angry about it today and refuse to accept nearly $500 million of settlement money offered by the government.