Julian Bear Runner, the president of the Oglala Sioux tribal council, said Trump’s speech is a ‘threat to mankind’ because of the 7,500 attendees who won’t wear face masks or social distance.
The president of the Oglala Sioux tribal council, Julian Bear Runner, doesn’t want Donald Trump, 74, to make his planned speech at the fourth of July fireworks celebration, where 7,500 people are expected to attend, in South Dakota on July 3. The leader gave an interview about his health fears over the coronavirus pandemic and how the Great Sioux Nation is the rightful owner of the land and they didn’t give Trump permission to enter, during an appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on July 2.
“Right now, the governor [of South Dakota, Kristi Noem] is saying that they’re not going to require social distancing, that they’re not going to require people to wear masks,” Runner told O’Donnell when discussing his concerns about Trump’s upcoming event. “Our experts throughout America and throughout the world are telling us that these are necessary steps to take in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so for me, it’s not just a threat to my people, but it’s a threat to the land and it’s a threat to mankind in general to human life.”
Runner also discussed how he sent out a letter to Trump and his staff with reasons why he is “not permitted” to visit Mount Rushmore but he received no response. “I sent out a letter today to Mr. Trump advising him and stating reasons why he is not permitted to enter the treaty territory at this time due to the lack of consultation with the sovereign leaders of the Great Sioux Nation,” he explained. “There has been no correspondence from his staff or himself to ever attempt to sit down diplomatically with the leaders of the Great Sioux Nation to obtain that permission or to contingently seek a plan on how to go about the Independence Day celebration.”
“Right now, for me, it’s very hard to remain diplomatic in times like this due to the lack of consultation,” he continued. “My people, it is in our DNA to fight for these lands, to defend these lands and to protect what is sacred and Mount Rushmore is carved on one of our most sacred mountains, within the Black Hills, and the people are angry and all I can do as a leader is stand back and support them, stand with them, and help them in every way that I can to do what’s right.”
After O’Donnell went on to mention that Mount Rushmore was a monument in Runner’s “culture” before the faces of the presidents were carved in, Runner explained the history behind what the monument represented and why it’s important. “That specific piece of the mountain represented six grandfathers, six of our ancestors and it had a very sacred and significant meaning prior to the carving of America’s first presidents,” he said.
Runner further explained that although Trump is still planning on making his appearance at Mount Rushmore on July 3, people of his tribe are preparing to protest the event to show that he’s not welcome into their territory. “I have members of my tribe, people reaching out from across America, that are wanting to come and stand with the Great Sioux Nation to exercise their amendment rights to protest and to demonstrate,” he said. “Right now, with this worldwide pandemic that is happening, we’re encouraging all of our members to exercise their safety, to wear personal protective equipment, and to just take care of themselves and this is one reason why I frown upon him coming here.”
The fourth of July celebration event in which Trump is expected to speak starts at 6pm ET at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.