Gerard Baker: Current Park Superintendent
For the first time since the memorial was created, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial now has an American Indian superintendent, Gerard Baker, who is the highest ranking Native American within the National Park Service. Gerard Baker is a full blooded Mandan-Hidasta Native American who entered the National Park Service in 1979. He was the superintendent of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where he received two NPS awards for his work with the Indian Memorial there. (www.colorado.edu/news) He also served as superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a position which gave him experience in working directly with 58 varying tribes across 19 states, stretching from Oregon in the west to Virginia in the east. In 2007 Gerard Baker earned his PhD in Public Service from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. (www.colorado.edu/news) In 2004, Baker was appointed to his current position as superintendent of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
With the appointment of a Native American to the superintendent position, the National Park Service opened the door for an official reexamination of the cultural biases inherent in the Mount Rushmore memoria; especially given Baker's track record of working to enhance or balance the contributions of Native Americans to western historical sites. When Baker took over the position as superintendent at Mount Rushmore, he made a definite effort to open dialogue with varying Native American groups, asking them for feedback and input about the park itself. He listened to concerns that the history presented was entirely one-sided, and as a result he was instrumental in the opening of the newest addition to the Mount Rushmore park complex: Heritage Village.