Native Americans Protest Trump Rally Held on Stolen Land



On July 3, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Trump held another rally to spread fascism, white supremacy, and COVID-19. Trump’s speech was a fascist call to arms against all those who have been taking to the streets against police murder of Black people and righteously taking down statues and symbols of white supremacy, the Confederacy, and colonial oppression—and against anyone opposing this regime.

But this did not go unopposed. Native American protesters blocked the highway leading to the rally site—protesting how this ugly rally, beneath Mt. Rushmore, was being held on land sacred to the Lakota and other Native peoples. They protested how this land had been stolen by the U.S. government. They protested the whole history of stolen land and the systematic and genocidal oppression of Native Americans. At the rally’s height, protesters numbered around 200. The protesters were mainly Native Americans of different tribes and others also joined.

An array of repressive forces had been mobilized against the peaceful protest: National Guard, cops, and sheriffs—many in full riot gear. The protest was repeatedly declared an unlawful assembly, with threats to arrest people. The crowd responded by shouting that the cops are on indigenous land and the ones who are here unlawfully.

The protest was angry and spirited and very defiant. Some explicitly made a commitment to stay all night if they needed to and were willing to be arrested. People blocked the road with their bodies and also parked vans across the road. When the National Guard lined up across the road and started moving toward protesters, people rushed up and confronted the pigs—pushing up against their shields, forcibly preventing the soldiers from moving forward.

For many hours people kept up the chants, including: “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” “This is our home, this is our land,” “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA,” “Dismantle White Supremacy,” “Indigenous lives matter,” and “No more stolen sisters.” A call and response went: “You took our children. You took our mothers. You took our fathers. You took our culture. You took our land.” At one point people chanted: “Black Lives Matter and We Can’t Breathe.” One sign simply said: “Never Great.”

Pepper spray was used and two protesters said deputies pulled protesters’ gas masks and face coverings in order to spray them up close. Later, cops moved in and arrested around 15 people.

A young woman interviewed on Unicorn Riot livestream of the protest said, “They have broken treaties time and time again, you as settlers are here on this land illegally, you are trespassing, we have the right to prosecute you on our land, this is treaty territory. They are not welcome here. You have already spilled enough blood here colonizers!”

For background:

Criminal History of Mt. Rushmore

The monument at Mt. Rushmore was carved into the granite rock face between 1927 and 1941. But the land here, the Black Hills of South Dakota, was stolen from the indigenous Lakota by the U.S. government in the 1800s.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 recognized that a large portion of the Black Hills belonged to Native American people. But in 1874, a military expedition led by General George Custer confirmed and announced the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, unleashing a flood of miners into the region, backed and protected by the U.S. military, and leading to the Black Hills War of 1876. Then in 1877, the U.S. implemented the Indian Appropriations Act of 1876, cutting off all rations to the Lakota to force them to "sell or starve." In 1877 the U.S. proclaimed an "Agreement" under which it claimed that the Lakota had ceded the land back to the U.S. But the legal validity of the "Agreement of 1877" — including whether any significant section of Lakota actually signed onto it — is disputed to this day.

Over 100 years later the site was occupied by a group of Native Americans protesting treaty violations, and in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had violated the Fifth Amendment and that the Sioux Nation was entitled to a $100 million compensation. The tribes declined this compensation because accepting it would mean they could no longer legally demand that the land be returned to them.

The creator of Mt. Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, built strong ties to the KKK and attended their meetings while working on an enormous bas-relief at Stone Mountain in Georgia to memorialize Confederate leaders, featuring Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. Whether or not he was officially a KKK member, he espoused white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Borglum left the Stone Mountain project to work on Mt. Rushmore.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement about Mt. Rushmore, “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.” Frazier says “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.”

Sacred Land of Paha Sapa

For years, Native American activists have argued that the Mt. Rushmore monument is a huge insult to the people, just like monuments to Confederate leaders or Spanish conquistadors. And now there are demands that the massive sculpture at Mt. Rushmore be destroyed. This comes in the midst of the people taking direct action all over the country to tear down statues of Confederate soldiers, slave owners, and other oppressors.

Most people call this land “Mt. Rushmore,” but to the indigenous Lakota people its name is Paha Sapa, “the heart of everything that is.” Nick Tilsen, a leader and citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation, said, “This place is very, very sacred to our people. And so, the act of, one, stealing our land, and then carving the faces of four white men, who were colonizers, who committed genocide against Indigenous people, is an egregious act of violence... it’s also pushing this falsehood narrative about American democracy, when we actually really should be uplifting the truths of what happened throughout history and how those truths are directly connected to the disparities that exist today in society amongst Indigenous people.”

Mt. Rushmore Criminals

Mt. Rushmore—which features the stone faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—is a monument to white supremacy, slavery, and crimes against the Native American people.

Washington and Jefferson both owned slaves. In 1779, Washington commanded a scorched-earth campaign against Native American tribes in western New York. In 1862, Lincoln ordered the hanging of 38 Sioux in Minnesota after a violent conflict with white settlers. Roosevelt actively supported the uprooting and genocide of Native Americans.

Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said, “Visitors look upon the faces of those presidents and extol the virtues that they believe make America the country it is today... Lakota see the faces of the men who lied, cheated and murdered innocent people whose only crime was living on the land they wanted to steal.”

Native American protesters blocked the highway leading to the Trump July 3rd rally site. They protested how this land, sacred to the Lakota and other Native peoples, had been stolen by the U.S. government and the systematic and genocidal oppression of Native Americans. (Photo:

Protesters numbered around 200 people, mainly Native Americans of different tribes as well as other people. Repressive forces were mobilized against the peaceful protest, including the National Guard, cops, and sheriffs – many in full riot gear. (Photo: Unicorn Riot)



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