HuffPo on Anaya’s Call to Return the Black Hills to the Indians

Here. An excerpt:

South Dakota’s Black Hills, home to the granite faces carved into Mt. Rushmore, should be restored as Native American tribal lands, a United Nations official recently said.

James Anaya, a U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, completed a fact-finding mission on Friday that included meetings with a number of Native American tribal leaders as well as White House officials. His investigation led him to suggest that the United States take additional steps to repair the nation’s legacy of oppression against Native Americans. He’ll officially propose the plan in an upcoming report.

Of course, Anaya said absolutely no such thing, as the article (quoting the AP) says shortly thereafter notes (following two videos about and a picture of Mount Rushmore). But it’s the kind of political rhetoric that always accompanies (or responds to) calls to return Indian lands to the Indians.

NYTs on Crazy Horse Monument

From the NYTs:

They dynamited Crazy Horse’s mountain again the other day, sending 4,400 tons of granite crashing onto a growing pile of Black Hills rubble. An eruption of dust ripped across the mountainside like a yanked zipper. There was a flash, then a boom that made a thousand people three-quarters of a mile away jump at once, then applaud.

It was one of the biggest blasts yet in a project that has seen a lot of them in 60 years, though afterward the mountain looked pretty much the same. The carving of this South Dakota peak into a mounted likeness of Crazy Horse, the great Sioux leader, has been going on since 1948. It’s a slow job. After all this time, only his face is complete. The rest — his broad chest and flowing hair, his outstretched arm, his horse — is still encased in stone. Someday, long after you are dead, it may finally emerge.

The memorial, outside Rapid City, is only a few miles from Mount Rushmore. Both are tributes to greatness. One is a federal monument and national icon, the other a solitary dream. A sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, worked at it alone for more than 30 years, roughing out the shape while acquiring a mighty beard and a large family. He died in 1982 and is buried in front of the mountain. His widow, Ruth, lives at the site and continues the mission with her many children.

I have to admit: Mount Rushmore bothers me. It was bad enough that white men drove the Sioux from hills they still hold sacred; did they have to carve faces all over them too? It’s easy to feel affection for Mount Rushmore’s strange grandeur, but only if you forget where it is and how it got there. To me, it’s too close to graffiti. Continue reading