After Donald Trump used two of his songs on Friday at Mount Rushmore, Neil Young had a simple message for the President: “This is not right for me.”
Like a hurricane and Rockin ‘in the free world were played out before the president appeared in South Dakota, for an incendiary speech in which Trump claimed that the history of the United States was under siege from “extreme left fascism.”
Soon after, the official Neil Young Archives account tweeted a challenge message: “I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux and this is NOT okay for me.”
Young is a former defender of Native American rights. The land around Mount Rushmore is sacred to the Lakota Sioux, who lived in the area before gold diggers discovered gold.
On Friday, protesters blocked the roads near the rally and held up signs saying “You are invading our land.” Local tribes were also concerned that fireworks at the event could cause forest fires and contaminate water supplies.
This week, the president of the Oglala Sioux tribe, Julian Bear Runner, told the Guardian that the land in Black Hills was never legally ceded to the United States.
“The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands [Trump was about to visit] belong to the great sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, “he said,” and I have to tell you that you do not have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time. “
Harold Frazier, president of the Cheyenne River Siyen tribe, said in a statement Friday that the sculpture on Mount Rushmore is an insult to Native Americans.
“Nothing is a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot fulfill a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land in what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” said Frazier.
The mountain is carved with faces of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.
Trump’s use of Rockin ‘in the free world, which he first played in announcing his candidacy for the presidency in 2015, has long been a cause for complaint. In 2015, Young’s manager Elliot Roberts told Mother Jones that Trump’s use of the song “was not authorized.” Young is a longtime advocate for Bernie Sanders. “
The Trump campaign responded that it had purchased the right to use the song, although a spokesperson said it would not do so again, telling the New York Post: “There are many songs to choose from. Despite Neil’s differing political views, Trump likes Neil very much. “
In February of this year, Young published an open letter to the President.
“Every time … one of my songs is played at one of their rallies, I hope they hear my voice,” wrote the singer. Remember, it is the voice of a US taxpayer who does not support you. Me.”
Young is not alone in opposing Trump’s use of his music. The Rolling Stones have threatened legal action against the President’s campaign if he continues to use his songs in the protests.
“Despite Donald Trump’s cease and desist directives in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking additional steps to exclude him from using his songs in any of his future political campaigns,” a spokesman said last month.
Other musicians who have expressed anger at Trump using his music include Queen, Adele, Rihanna, and REM, though general licensing agreements covering most venues mean they have few legal recourse.
Still, few have been more forceful in their conviction of Trump than Young, who was born in Canada but is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In his February letter to the President, he said: “You are a disgrace to my country … Your senseless destruction of our shared natural resources, our resources, and our relationships with friends around the world is unforgivable.”