Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hilis of South Dakota lias differing economic, cultural, political and religious meanings. Particularly, an American or "white" interpretation and the interpretations of the Sioux Nation. These different perspectives of Mount Rushmore reveal more about the history of the Black Hills of South Dakota and how cultures redefine events to meet contemporary needs. This thesis examines the original intentions for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and traces how the monument was described to others during construction. An examination of presidential speeches and remarks made about Mount Rushmore during construction helps discern one political perspective of Mount Rushmore. This work analyzes the historical significance of the United States' illegal taking of the Black Hills and how it has impacted notions of Mount Rushmore. The different religious interpretations and beliefs of the Black Hills also factor into the historical memory of Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore also has unintended consequences like the construction of the Crazy Horse Memorial and the litigation over the illegal taking of the Black Hills that impact the differing political and religious meanings of the Black Hills. The legacies of Mount Rushmore are further understood tnrough looking at the historical context and issues that generate the historical memory of the "Shrine of Democracy."