The National Park Service has rejected the state of South Dakota's request to shoot off fireworks at Mount Rushmore in celebration of Independence Day this year, saying such a display is not safe and citing objections from Native American tribes.
What are the details?
The Hill reported Friday that NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost informed South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen in a letter that the NPS is "unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the [Mount Rushmore National] Memorial."
"Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event," Frost explained. "In addition, the park's many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial."
He added, "These factors, compiled with the COVID-19 pandemic, do not allow a safe and responsible fireworks display to be held at this site."
In reaction, a spokesman for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) told the outlet that the governor "is going to do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America's birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore."
The governor's Twitter account later sent out a message that read, "The best place to celebrate America's birthday is Mount Rushmore."
The best place to celebrate America's birthday is Mount Rushmore. https://t.co/LZFsglDQmJ— Governor Kristi Noem (@Governor Kristi Noem) 1615585683.0
The letter from the NPS comes a day after President Joe Biden said in an address to the nation that if Americans continue to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci, wear masks, get vaccinated, and socially distance, there is a "good chance" folks can gather in "small groups" by July 4th.
Referencing the president's remarks, Noem's spokesperson said, "The best place in America to hold such a special celebration would be Mount Rushmore, fireworks included."
Last year, President Donald Trump joined Noem (R) in a huge Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore, complete with a fireworks display. Critics slammed the move saying that it placed attendees and workers at risk for contracting COVID-19.
Ahead of the 2020 event, the Democratic Party put out a message saying the Trump was "holding a rally glorifying white supremacy at Mount Rushmore — a region once sacred to tribal communities."
Sioux leaders have also called for the removal of the faces carved into the rock portraying Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. In reaction to that prospect, Noem said last year, "Not on my watch."