My lands are where my dead lie buried.

by caitlynpickens

In the morning on Saturday, we woke up and drove out to Mt Rushmore. Anica and I were both wary of this tourist stop, especially since we are very aware of the fact that the Black Hills (where Rushmore is located) actually belong to the Lakota and were stolen from them. When we arrived at the site, we dutifully took pictures to show to our families later:

Then we went on one of the tours offered by the park. A woman gave us a tour filled with blind patriotism. About halfway through, a young man with a mohawk and a fancy video camera showed up and started recording the session. After the 30 minute walk through tour, the guide dismissed all the tourists, and told us she would answer questions from people who stuck around. Naturally, Anica asked her “What are your thoughts about the controversy with the Lakota people and how this land was stolen from them?” The camera man was still filming. The tour guide did her best to handle our criticism of and distaste for the situation, but it was only her second week working at the park. After a minute or two, an older ranger guide stepped in to her rescue. For the next 30 minutes or so, we had a nice debate with the rangers, Tracy and Anica, and the young PhD candidate anthropologist who was documenting the entire trip. It turns out that the rangers are very aware of the history, and when they have the chance, they promote Lakota culture. Since the majority of people coming in to see Rushmore are unaware of the controversy, however, sometimes they have to cater to what the majority wants to see in the tours.

After we saw Mount Rushmore, we went over to the Crazy Horse memorial, just ten miles down the road. This Crazy Horse project was undertaken by a single sculptor, and he planned to make an entire mountain into a sculpture of Crazy Horse. To give you an idea of how massive the project is, all of Mount Rushmore would fit into Crazy Horse’s head alone.  The project has been going on for years, one little bit at a time, because it does not accept government funding. It has been commissioned by the Lakota and only takes donations to create the masterpiece. The original artist passed away, but seven of his ten children are carrying on his legacy. Also at the site is a museum dedicated to the American Indian. It has some of the most beautiful native art that I’ve ever seen. Crazy Horse was everything I had hoped Mt Rushmore to be, and made me feel a true sense of pride to be participating in the Lakota culture.

After Crazy Horse, we went to the Western-style town called Deadwood. Every single establishment in Deadwood has some sort of gambling in it. It was a tourist attraction, and kind of fun to see, but neither Anica nor I wanted to go out to the bars. We were tired from the week with the kids and touring during the weekend, so we ate at a Western-style restaurant and then went back to the hotel and had an early night. :]