Tim Giago, editor of Native Sun News, today posts a spirited, knowledgeable and affectionate defense of Gerard Baker, a longtime National Park Service supervisor who now is Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Monument.
Baker, who is Mandan and Hidatsa and whose past Park Service experience includes tenure at the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana and the Knife River Indian Villages in North Dakota, is well-known – if not always appreciated – for his insistence upon including presentations of Native history and culture at his various postings. Now he finds himself in the midst of a very different type of controversy, over the fact that a month ago, Greenpeace activists clambered onto Mount Rushmore’s famous faces and fastened an Obama banner there.
As Giago writes here, “When Greenpeace did its deed the locals came out of the woodwork looking for a scalp to hang on the wall. Baker’s scalp looked pretty inviting to those wanting to see blood.”
Baker was criticized for initially saying that all park security systems worked as they should that day. As Giago points out (for more details, see an earlier Rapid City Journal story, here) Baker has made plenty of enemies along the way, some of whom seem to be seizing upon this opportunity to suggest it’s time for him to go.
Giago isn’t the only one backing Baker, though. The column quotes both U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in praise of Baker’s professionalism, a viewpoint echoed by prominent people in Rapid City, S.D.
We’ll keep an eye on the rumblings over Baker and will post updates here.