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The dark history of Mount Rushmore - Ned Blackhawk and Jeffrey D. Means

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Between 1927 and 1941, workers blasted 450,000 tons of rock from a mountainside using chisels, jackhammers, and dynamite. Gradually, they carved out Mount Rushmore. Today, the monument draws nearly 3 million people to South Dakota’s Black Hills every year. But its façade belies a dark history. Ned Blackhawk and Jeffrey D. Means explore the destruction of the sacred Six Grandfathers Mountain.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Ned Blackhawk, Jeffrey D. Means
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Narrator Jake Hart
  • Composer Cem Misirlioglu, Greg Chudzik
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The taking of Native lands to allow for U.S. expansion, and the subsequent forced assimilation attempts were part of a process called Settler Colonialism. This process seeks to replace indigenous populations and cultures with those of the conquering nation. Once conquered, the dominant society then seeks to replace Native narratives about history, culture, and justice, with their own narrative. Part of this process is the erection of monuments designed to glorify the history and culture of the dominant society, and justify the process of conquest. To learn more about the Settler Colonial process, and the history of the Black Hills and Native Americans please see the following resources.

1)   A short article explaining Settler Colonialism. https://globalsocialtheory.org/concepts/settler-colonialism/
2)   Patrick Wolfe on Settler Colonialism https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14623520601056240
3)   Short video on why the Lakota are refusing the money for the Black Hills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObabZdcEXh4
4)   Sacred Hills: Discovering the Lakota Prophecy Hidden in the Black Hills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTqwOz0_FWA

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Ned Blackhawk, Jeffrey D. Means
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Narrator Jake Hart
  • Composer Cem Misirlioglu, Greg Chudzik
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators

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