Stewards of History: The National Park Service
The National Park Service was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 as a bureau of the Department of the Interior. In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6166 which placed the Mount Rushmore Memorial under the control of the National Park Service, thereby granting the government direct oversight into a project which was always seeking additional funds. (National Park Service) The guiding mission for the National Park Service is to conserve the scenery, natural, and historic objects at each of the sites under its control, to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (MLO, Government document, 1916 Organic act, as quoted in McKeel, et al.) This guiding statement of purpose becomes very important and central to both the present and future aspects concerning Mount Rushmore. Under this purpose, the National Park Service is established as stewards of the history devoted to the various memorials.
At Mount Rushmore's park grounds, however, there has been a very one-sided view presented of the history concerning the memorial itself. As Glass notes in his article, Producing Patriotic Inspiration at Mount Rushmore (1994), the welcoming video from that date presented a narrative which did more to provide visitors with a "useable, inspirational past, rather than an account of the memorial's development." At a monument with such a varied set of possible interpretations, with such diverse and subjective attitudes surrounding the monument itself, the history of the land on which it was built, and even the artist who oversaw the construction, it falls to those who are entrusted with preserving and presenting its history to make certain that such a history is balanced.Next >>>