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Aging rocker Neil Young took to social media to once again complain about the use of his song, “Rockin’ in the Free World,” during President Donald Trump’s Mount Rushmore rally in South Dakota Friday evening.
“This is NOT ok with me,” Young — who was born in Canada but became a U.S. citizen earlier this year — wrote on Twitter.
This is NOT ok with me… https://t.co/Q9j9NRPMhi
— Neil Young Archives (@NeilYoungNYA) July 4, 2020
In a second Twitter message, Young wrote in a video clip featuring another one of his songs, “I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me.”
Uh oh, @Neilyoung is playing. Wonder how that happened again. pic.twitter.com/xusfdUd2JC
— Morgan Matzen (@bymorganmatzen) July 3, 2020
This isn’t Young’s first dust-up with the president over the use of his songs at campaign events.
In 2015 and 2016, the rocker complained about an event featuring Rockin in the Free World, but he backtracked after discovering that the Trump campaign had legally licensed the material for use.
“The fact that I said I was for Bernie Sanders and then he didn’t ask me to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ doesn’t mean that he can’t use it,” he told Reuters at the time.
“He actually got a license to use it,” Young said. “I mean, he said he did and I believe him. So I got nothing against him. You know, once the music goes out, everybody can use it for anything.
“But if the artist who made it is saying you never spoke to them, if that means something to you, you probably will stop playing it. And it meant something to Donald and he stopped,” the rocker continued.
In 2017, Young released a ‘resistance’ music video ahead of the July 4 celebration. Called “Children of Destiny,” the video featured clips of anti-Trump protests with imagery typically seen during Independence Day celebrations including Fourth of July parades, military displays, and scenes of the American landscape.
“Should goodness ever lose, and evil steal the day. Should happy sing the blues and peaceful face away — What would you do? What would you say? How would you act on that new day?” Young sings in the video, which featured only non-violent protests of Trump campaign events, not those where groups like Antifa intimidated and attacked the president’s supporters.
Before the president’s arrival in South Dakota, Native American tribes were planning demonstrations and protests. The Lakota Sioux are historically native to the Black Hills region of the Dakotas, with many claiming that Mount Rushmore sits atop “sacred land.”
Native American and liberal activists claim the land was stolen from them by white Americans as they migrated West in the 1800s. They view the four presidents carved into the mountainside as a monument to ‘white racism.’
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” said Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective, in an interview with The Associated Press.
“It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide,” he added.
In fact, historical accounts note that prior to widespread settlement and colonization of the Americas by whites, Native American tribes not only warred with each other but also fought over land.
“While eastern Indians fought almost exclusively to achieve retribution, southwestern Indians clashed with their neighbors both to avenge previous wrongs and to loot them of material possessions. Apaches and Navajos, for example, raided both each other and the sedentary Pueblo Indian tribes in an effort to acquire goods through plunder,” one account notes.
As for the Lakota Sioux, they were not originally from the Dakotas.
“The Lakota (or Sioux) is actually a broad group of people that includes the seven bands of the Western (or Teton) Lakota, the Dakota (Yankton and Yanktoni) and the Nakota (Santee). This group of tribes lived in the Plains for only a part of their known history. The Lakotas originally lived in the northern woodlands,” says a Nebraska Studies entry.
In addition, the Lakota displaced other Native Americans as they moved southwestward.
“The Lakota slowly migrated south and westward and pushed aside the Omaha tribe in this early migration,” the site notes further. “In the Central Plains the Lakota came into conflict with the Pawnee, a village tribe that held the rich hunting lands of the Republican River Valley until the Lakota entered the region.”
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