SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The fight over fireworks at Mount Rushmore continues.
In a news release, the South Dakota Department of Tourism announced at the direction of Governor Kristi Noem it submitted an application for a special use permit for a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore in 2023. The application was submitted to the National Park Service.
In the release, Noem said she wants to work with the Biden Administration and “give the people the celebration they deserve” in 2023.
NPS rejected permits for the 2021 and 2022 celebrations after Noem, with the help of President Donald Trump, was able to help facilitate fireworks at the national monument. The Department of Tourism said the rejection of the permits is “in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.”
In March, the NPS cited “ample documented opposition” from Indian tribes to the 2020 event and said that opposition continues today.
Fireworks are viewed by tribes as having an adverse effect on the traditional cultural landscape, the NPS said in its 2022 letter to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
The threat of fire and general threats to the environment and Memorial were also cited by the NPS.
Governor Noem remains in litigation with NPS over the rejection of the 2021 Celebration. A three-judge panel in St. Louis heard arguments on both sides of the case in January.
Noem’s office said a state contract with Virginia-based law firm Consovoy McCarthy in 2021 had a contract cap of $150,000. Funds would come from the state’s Extraordinary Litigation Fund, which at the time had a balance of $301,973.
In 2021, Judge Roberto A. Lange said in a ruling that fireworks on July 3 “at first blush” seems like a good idea, but the “Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea.”
Also in 2021, Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said Gov. Noem made false statements in claiming that the Tribe had been consulted on the impact of fireworks at Mt. Rushmore.
“All they have to do is have someone from a tribe sitting there, regardless of if they say anything, they consider that consultation,” Frazier told KELOLAND News.