(TMU) – The White House has reportedly reached out to the governor of South Dakota with a monumental request: adding the likeness of President Donald Trump to Mount Rushmore.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that White House aides inquired with conservative South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about the process of adding additional presidents’ faces to America’s shrine to long-deceased leaders in the state’s Black Hills.
According to a Republican official familiar with the conversations, the governor was so stricken by the question that when Trump landed in the state last month to hold a fireworks-filled July 4 gala event, she greeted the president with a four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included his face.
In 2018, Noem said in an interview that Trump had privately expressed his “dream” to have his likeness carved into the 1927 monument alongside the mammoth 60-foot-high carvings of the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. She initially assumed that the former reality television star was joking.
“I started laughing,” Noem said. “He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”
“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand,’” she recounted. “And so I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’ And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?'”
In July 2017, Trump also floated the idea of having his face added to the monument during a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio.
“I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore, but here’s the problem: If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say ‘he believes he should be on Mount Rushmore,’” Trump said at the time.
“So I won’t say it, OK? I won’t say it.”
Trump offered a stalwart defense of Mount Rushmore during his July 4 speech to supporters, which coincided with a massive wave of protests against police brutality, racism and white supremacy in the United States that saw tens of statues to colonial and Confederate historical figures being toppled.
In his speech, Trump vowed that Mount Rushmore would “stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers, and to our freedom.”
“As we meet here tonight there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for,” he also warned.
A White House official told the New York Times that Mount Rushmore is a federal, not state, monument.
Mount Rushmore was built in the Black Hills of South Dakota atop what the Lakota Sioux nation, who originally inhabited the land, saw as the sacred territory of the Six Grandfathers Mountain.
While the controversial 79-year-old sculpture now known as “America’s shrine to democracy” is recognized as one of the great patriotic monuments in the United States and a symbol of national “heritage,” Native American tribal spokesmen and activists largely see the gigantic monument as a symbol of disrespect and desecration of their sacred land.
“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 called Mount Rushmore,” Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe said in a statement in June. ”We are now being forced to witness the lashing of our land with pomp, arrogance and fire hoping our sacred lands will survive. 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.”
“Visitors look upon the faces of those presidents and extoll the virtues that they believe make America the country it is today,” he continued. “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.”
“The United States of America wishes for all of us to be citizens and a family of their republic yet when they get bored of looking at those faces, we are left looking at our molesters,” he added..