Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Quanah Brightman United Native American Gathered at Mount Rushmore Commemorating 50th Anniversary of Occupation

I have stood together with Quanah Brightman of UNITED NATIVE AMERICANS  numerous times against tribal disenrollment in Sacramento and Pechanga.

On Saturday, he led a gathering held at Mount Rushmore’s amphitheater marking the 50th anniversary of the monument’s occupation by supporters of indigenous rights.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the “stolen land” in a 1980 ruling, centuries after the massacre at Wounded Knee. They were willing to pay reparations in the amount of $1 billion to the Native Americans, but the offer was denied.

“We don’t want money for the land. But we should be entitled to the gold you stole from us,” says Quanah. “We are here to ask and demand that Mt. Rushmore be retired, that this site be removed. This monument needs to be torn down.”

 QUANAH Brightman  United Native Americans

The event, led by United Native Americans Inc., expected 50 people to attend the actual event, however guests to the park where supporters of indigenous rights were expected to speak during the event, held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in addition to a group prayer.

Dr. Lehman Brightman, founder and leader of UNA led the months-long occupation of the national monument in 1970, centered around the federal government’s’ failure to honor their promises to the tribes. Now, 50 years after the fact the landscape and the people have changed, but the messaging is still the same – liberty and justice for all.

Brightman describes Mount Rushmore’s occupation as one of the first uprisings following the Battle of Little Bighorn, again a century before in 1876. Lieut. Col. George A. Custer led U.S. troops into a battle that resulted in the slaying of himself along with all of his troops. The battle itself was a result of the tumultuous relations between the federal government and the Native Americans.

In honor of his family’s legacy and the many Lakota that fought, and perhaps died to defend their land, Quanah flew from his home in San Francisco to be in sacred the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). It is said to be the site of the Lakota Sioux’s origin story, now carved over with four U.S. presidents.

Much like the original occupations, Native Americans and supporters are demanding the return of the sacred Black Hills. They are also asking for the return of the gold mined by Homestake Mine and Hearst Corporation, along with asking for the National Parks Service and Department of the Interior to begin retiring the monument so it can be reclaimed by Native Americans.

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