Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan shared a post on social media over the Independence Day weekend calling Mount Rushmore a “symbol of white supremacy.”
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today. It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land, then carve the white faces of the colonizers who committed genocide,” said the post, which Flanagan shared on her Instagram.
OUTRAGEOUS: Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan took to social media over the Independence Day weekend to smear Mount Rushmore as a "symbol of white supremacy." #mnleg #mngop pic.twitter.com/kW8NPLbvzv
— MN House Republicans (@mnhousegop) July 6, 2020
The post was quoting Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local South Dakota activist organization called NDN Collective, which organized protests for President Donald Trump’s July 3 visit to the historic monument.
Like Tilsen, Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner said Mount Rushmore should be “removed but not blown up,” The Minnesota Sun reported.
“I don’t believe it should be blown up, because it would cause more damage to the land,” Bear Runner told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. “To me, it’s a great sign of disrespect.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has vowed to defend Mount Rushmore amid threats from protesters.
“Now we’re seeing threats to Mount Rushmore. To those who would threaten America’s Shrine of Democracy, I have one simple message for you: Not on my watch,” she said in a recent statement. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that Mount Rushmore remains as majestic and inspiring as it is today.”
Flanagan, who chairs the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board as lieutenant governor, welcomed the destruction a Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota Capitol last month.
“I can’t say I’m sad the statue of Christopher Columbus is gone. I’m not,” Flanagan said after protesters toppled the statue of Columbus on June 10.
“The arrival of Christopher Columbus to what is now the Americas set in motion centuries of violence and genocide against the Indigenous people who already lived here. As the highest-ranking Native woman elected to executive office in the country, I have often reflected on the fact that I could see a statue honoring that legacy from my office window,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) responded to Flanagan’s Instagram post on Monday.
“Our Lt. Gov. does not speak for me. Our country has flaws and are leaders aren’t perfect, but I’m proud to be an American, and I’m grateful for the four leaders presented at Mount Rushmore,” he said on Twitter.
Our Lt Gov does not speak for me. Our country has flaws and our leaders aren't perfect, but I'm proud to be an American, and I'm grateful for the 4 leaders presented at Mount Rushmore. pic.twitter.com/JL2M6XMMRs
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) July 6, 2020
Shortly after Flanagan’s election in November 2018, she temporarily covered a number of controversial paintings located in the Minnesota Capitol’s transition offices, which she said contain “insensitive” and “historically inaccurate” depictions of Native Americans.
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