A Vermont Indigenous chief has expressed interest in starting a dialogue with Ben and Jerry’s about the land their headquarters stands on after the ice cream giant announced their support for returning Mount Rushmore to the Lakota.
Ben and Jerry’s, which is notorious for its corporate left-wing activism, tweeted on July 4 in support of the radical “Land Back” movement. The company has previously expressed support for open borders, Black Lives Matter, and other progressive causes.
“Ah, the Fourth of July. Who doesn’t love a good parade, some tasty barbecue, and a stirring fireworks display? The only problem with all that, though, is that it can distract from an essential truth about this nation’s birth: The US was founded on stolen Indigenous land,” Ben and Jerry’s stated in a Tweet.
“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 company continued in their full statement, adding that the “Land Back movement is all about restoring the rights and freedoms of Indigenous people… [and] about dismantling white supremacy and systems of oppression.”
The ice cream giant specifically pointed towards Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and demanded that the land should be returned to the Lakota peoples, who once considered the mountain to be a “sacred place.” Ben and Jerry’s added: “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.”
But the company’s dedication to the causes they promote is now being challenged as an Indigenous chief has come forward to state that the ice cream giant is operating on Western Abenaki land.
Don Stevens, who is the chief of the Nulhegan Band of The Coosuk Abenaki Nation, a confederacy of Algonquian tribes that formed in and around Vermont in the 1600s, spoke to the New York Post yesterday and expressed an interest in opening dialogue with the company regarding returning the land.
Stevens argued that if Ben and Jerry’s was “sincere” in their support for returning land to Native Americans, then they should reach out to him to see how they can better benefit Indigenous people.
“If you look at the [Abenaki] traditional way of being, we are place-based people. Before recognized tribes in the state, we were the ones who were in this place,” Stevens says, adding in a statement to Newsweek that the Abenaki were “always interested in reclaiming the stewardship of our lands throughout our traditional territories and providing opportunities to uplift our communities.”
According to Stevens, the tribe has to yet to hear from Ben and Jerry’s, and the brand has not made a public statement on the issue.