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Trump at Mount Rushmore: Native protesters block road to sacred land

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  • In the hours leading up to President Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore Friday night, a group of protesters blocked the road to the national monument. 
  • The protesters were mainly comprised of Native Americans, angered at the staging of the political event in an area sacred to them. 
  • The Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the Black Hills — where Mount Rushmore resides — was unlawfully taken from the Sioux people. 
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A group of mainly Native American protesters blocked the road leading up to Mount Rushmore for three hours before President Donald Trump gave a speech at the national monument Friday night. 

When they refused to disband, the protesters faced off with the South Dakota National Guard, which shot close-range shells at their feet and sprayed some protesters with pepper spray, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. 

By 7 p.m., 15 protesters who refused to leave the road had been arrested.

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Protesters face off with the South Dakota National Guard near Mount Rushmore on Friday July 3, 2020.


ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty



Trump went on to give a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore, saying the country was under siege by “far-left” fascists waging “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.”

The Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore is located, is a sacred area for local Native Americans, and a contested space. 

The Supreme Court in 1980 ruled that the United States had illegally taken the land from the Sioux tribe in a deal brokered in 1873. The Mount Rushmore carvings were completed in 1941.

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Photos from the scene show some protesters suffering from pepper spray to the eyes.


ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty



Jeff Ostler, a historian at the University of Oregon, told ABC News that the federal government had offered the Sioux people a settlement of $1 billion for taking the land. The tribe has refused, saying they will only accept their land back. 

Some of the protesters on Friday held signs reading “Protect SoDak’s First People,” “You Are On Stolen Land,” and “Dismantle White Supremacy,” according to the Associated Press

Hehakaho Waste, a spiritual elder with the Oglala Sioux tribe, told the AP: “The president needs to open his eyes. We’re people, too, and it was our land first.”

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A total of 15 people were arrested after refusing to leave the road.


ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty



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