Interior Secretary discusses Mount Rushmore visit, American monument protection

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Western KELOLAND is coming off of an Independence Day celebration for the history books.

President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd at Mount Rushmore Friday as the national memorial hosted its first fireworks show since 2009.

From preparation, to Air Force One landing, to the president’s speech, KELOLAND News brought you full coverage of the historic event, but there’s still more.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt took the stage Friday evening.

“This magnificent monument surrounded by the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota tells the story of the birth, the development, and the preservation of our incredible nation,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said.

Before the event, the leader of the Department of the Interior spoke one-one-one with media, including KELOLAND News, where we asked for his reaction to the day.

“One word: spectacular. Two words: magnificent,” Bernhardt said.

Bernhardt discussed the president’s push for the protection of monuments.

A June executive order aims to protect monuments, memorials, and statues.

“The president has taken a firm stand and strong action and said, ‘We will protect these monuments from unlawful actors who want to destroy them as a matter of criminality,'” Bernhardt said.

Meanwhile, criticism of Mount Rushmore has intensified recently, including from some Native American tribal members who want to see it removed.

“We respect people’s views and opportunities to petition and visit with their government, and also to tell their story. We believe in that. That’s a fundamental right that we have,” Bernhardt said.

In a statement on June 29th, the Cheyenne River Tribal Chairman calls the land sacred.

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