South Dakota’s Boofheads

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I am reliably informed that the four presidents on Mt Rushmore would fit snugly in Crazy Horse’s right ear lobe.

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If sheer gigantism unleavened with any sense of humane sensibility, let alone empathy and humour are your thing, you’ll love the Crazy Horse Monument.

A great feat of humorless bombast demands a suitable museum and site of homage. The Indian Museum of North America is home to an stomach-churning collection of art and artifacts reflecting an inexhaustible appetite for kitsch and schmaltz. American Indian people are the victims here. But at least the small imagination and paltry talents of the exponents of the minor atrocities against the dignity of a much-abused race has found an appropriate scale in its dreary melange of dust catchers. The same modesty of methodology cannot be said of the millions of tons of tortured rock blasted out of a small and unassuming mountain to confect the world’s biggest statement of the bleeding obvious. The museum, designed to complement the story being told in stone on the mountain, succeeds in proving that gargantuan scale is no substitute for cultural sensitivity.

I am reliably informed that the vast majority of the museum collection has been donated. That explains much about this collection of expressions of dull and maudlin sentiment limned in what appears to be multi-coloured treacle. However, both by Native Americans and non-Natives. I am further reliably informed that “many individuals and families have decided that the Indian Museum of North America is where their American Indian artifacts and art should find a permanent home.” if I were the owner of these works, I would do the same thing.

An homage to American gigantism.

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Australia’s best Big Thing is the Ballina Prawn.

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Not Mount Rushmore. However, the chap who carved Mount Rushmore was lured off this job to chisel a brace of presidents. Was he happy to be off the payroll of the Ku Klux Klan?

The 1920s were boom years for inscribing heroes into living rock. However, motives differed. Jeff, Stonewall and Lee were vehement proclamations of White supremacism. George, Tom, Teddy and Woodrow were conscripted into an effort to stimulate tourism to South Dakota. Back in the 1920s punters didn’t travel through South Dakota on the way to anywhere. And few travelled to South Dakota.

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A candid view of Mount Rushmore.

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The days Mount Rushmore attracts millions. I’d hazard a guess that the return on investment from blasting rock outperforms the richest mines on earth. Patriotism and curiosity are the ultimate renewable resources.

On the other hand, folks still flock to Stone Mountain even though the Klan have long abandoned the site for their rallies. To some these effigies of the Confederate leaders are insults. To others they are mere embarrassments. To still others they represent an exclusionist or even an exterminationist fantasy that constantly tugs at the coat sleeve of their brains.

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A family enjoys a visit to Stone Mountain.

Martin Luther King referred to Stone Mountain in the most famous speech of the 20th century.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

The battle for ownership of the Stone Mountain bas relief is far from over.

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And now Martin Luther King is commemorated South Dakota style in gigantic form emerging out of a faux mountain in Washington DC.

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