Last Independence Day, the social justice-conscious ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s posted a message to Twitter celebrating the nation’s founding by calling on the U.S. government to return the “stolen Indigenous land” on which the nation was formed.
“This 4th of July, it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it,” Ben & Jerry’s tweeted. The company went on to propose that the U.S. “start with Mount Rushmore”:
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. The faces on Mount Rushmore are the faces of men who actively worked to destroy Indigenous cultures and ways of life, to deny Indigenous people their basic rights.
Ben and Jerry’s did not lead the way by committing to return the land on which their headquarters was built to the indigenous people who once owned it, so we can dismiss their statement as empty virtue-signaling. But it reflects a widespread, corrosive misconception in America and the rest of the West, that the history of European colonialism throughout the New World is nothing but one long, atrocity-punctuated narrative of genocide, exploitation, theft and oppression.