One lawmaker is fighting attempts to change the name of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial monument, after the U.S. Board on Geographic Names fielded at least one suggestion to do so.
A California resident has proposed changing the name of the monument to “Igmu Tanka Paha,” which means “Cougar Mountain,” TribLIVE reported on Friday. It was a name given to the mountain by the Lakota people, who also call it “Tunkasila Sakpe Paha,” meaning Six Grandfathers Mountain.
But a senior researcher for the board told the publication that even if the request for renaming was approved, it would only apply to the mountain – not the monument.
Further, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., introduced legislation earlier this summer that would prohibit not only changing the monument’s name, but also bar using federal funds to alter, destroy or remove the likeness or any of the faces on the memorial.
The monument depicts presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The idea of changing the name of the South Dakota monument gained momentum in 2015, after the Obama administration changed the name of Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Denali.
President Trump visited Mount Rushmore for a speech on July 3, in honor of Independence Day.
In August, Trump denied media reports that he suggested he should have his face added to the monument – but also said on Twitter that it sounded “like a good idea.”
Trump has also pushed back against attempts to remove statues and monuments that are considered offensive. Some statues have been toppled or vandalized over the past few months amid social unrest and protests that became widespread following the death of George Floyd.
The president issued an executive order in June aimed at protecting monuments, memorials and statues, which criminalizes the destruction of such structures. Penalties can include fines or jail time.