Ben & Jerry's Demands United States of America Return Stolen Land in Fourth of July Letter

Ben & Jerry’s is demanding the United States of America return “stolen indigenous land” in its Fourth of July message.

via Complex:

On Monday, the popular ice cream brand shared a post on its website that claimed the celebrations revolving around America’s independence are distractions from the “essential truth” of the country’s birth, which was that the nation was founded by colonists stealing land from Indigenous people.

“This 4th of July, it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it,” the company wrote in a tweet directing people to their website.

Ben & Jerry’s used Mount Rushmore – which features the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln carved into a mountain – as the first step in their crusade. In their post, the ice cream company highlighted Mount Rushmore’s history.

The mountain was known as Tunkasila Sakpe by the Lakota Sioux tribe and was considered a sacred area in the Black Hills of South Dakota. According to Ben & Jerry’s, the Lakota and other Indigenous tribes signed treaties with the United States in the 1850s and 1860s that established 35 million acres of home for them, including the Black Hills.

The American government severed those treaties after the discovery of gold caused prospectors and settlers to take up shop in the area. A group of tribes known as the Sioux were forced to give up their land and move to much smaller reservations.

“From there, in 1927, they watched as their holy mountain, now located on land known as South Dakota, was desecrated and dynamited to honor their colonizers, four white men—two of whom enslaved people and all of whom were hostile to Indigenous people and values,” Ben & Jerry’s wrote.

The company provided even more history explaining that the Supreme Court ruled the land was stolen and awarded the Sioux more than $100 million in 1980. However, the tribes refused payment and wanted the land back despite the $100 million being put in a trust that has gained interest since it was awarded. 

“Why are we talking about this? Because on the Fourth of July many people in the US celebrate liberty and independence—our country’s and our own,” the company said. “But what is the meaning of Independence Day for those whose land this country stole, those who were murdered and forced with brutal violence onto reservations, those who were pushed from their holy places and denied their freedom?”

Ben & Jerry’s also offered information about the Land Back movement, which aims to restore the rights and freedoms of Indigenous people. They also provided people with a link to take action and help return Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills to their rightful owners.  

“This Fourth of July, it’s time to return that sacred place to the Lakota. Let’s make it a day that embraces freedom and justice for all,” the ice cream company stated.  

Ben & Jerry’s has always been on the right side of history.

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