GOP congressman upset Sioux leaders want their sacred land respected

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Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) doesn't think Sioux leaders should object to Mount Rushmore.

A Republican congressman called out Native American leaders on Thursday, claiming they were "Marxists." His reason: They object to the Mount Rushmore monument on Lakota Sioux sacred lands.

"I hope people realize by now (if they hadn't already) that these Marxists will never stop," Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said in a Facebook post. "We must hold the elected officials allowing it to happen accountable, or they will keep removing our history until there's nothing left..."

Duncan shared a link to a Wednesday news report that two South Dakota Sioux leaders have called for the removal of the famous sculptures of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Washington from lands sacred to their tribe.

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Donald Trump plans to visit the national memorial Friday for an Independence Day fireworks display, though public health experts have warned that the event could help spread the coronavirus.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a press release this week, "Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore."

"We are now being forced to witness the lashing of our land with pomp, arrogance and fire hoping our sacred lands survive," he said of Trump's planned event. "This brand on our flesh needs to be removed and I am willing to do it free of charge to the United States, by myself if I must."

Last week, Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner also called for the removal of the monument, saying it was built on Great Sioux Reservation land without consulting Native American leaders. "To me, it’s a great sign of disrespect,” he told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

An 1868 treaty with the U.S. government "recognized the Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation, set aside for exclusive use by the Sioux people," according to the National Archives. Nine years later, after gold was discovered there, the U.S. said it was reclaiming the land.

In 1927, the monument's construction began, without any agreement from the Sioux Nation.

Duncan's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry for the story.

This is not the first time he has accused Americans who want to remove monuments of Marxism. In recent weeks, he has made similar charges against protesters who toppled a Washington, D.C., statue of Confederate officer Albert Pike and a San Francisco monument to former President Ulysses S. Grant.

His comments come as Trump and other Republicans have been vocally opposing efforts to remove Confederate memorials, and other racist iconography across the United States.

Earlier this week, Trump threatened to veto the entire Defense budget if it did not preserve the names of military facilities honoring Confederates.

Last week, Trump issued an executive order aimed at toughening enforcement of laws against monument desecration. It promised federal government protection for federal memorials and directs the Justice Department to prioritize cases of monument vandalism.

Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) have suggested that any effort to remove the Mount Rushmore would be "erasing" history. Both are among 24 backers — all Republicans — of a federal bill to ban any federal funds going to change or remove the monument.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.