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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem will make an effort to see fireworks shot over Mount Rushmore on Independence Day in federal court in a lawsuit against the National Parks Service.

The Republican governor told the Watertown Rotary Club on Thursday that he plans to sue after the park service refused to continue hosting a fireworks display at the monument, citing safety concerns and objections from local Native American tribes. South Dakota Public Broadcasting first reported his comments.

The governor pushed to return the fireworks to Mount Rushmore last year after a ten-year hiatus, saying the event was a way to highlight the state’s tourist appeal. Last year, former President Donald Trump joined Noem in Mount Rushmore on July 3 to deliver a fiery speech. The event also became an opportunity for Noem to strengthen her relationship with Trump as she joined him on the flight back to Washington.

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Kristi Noem, pictured speaking to Donald Trump in 2019, believes the denial of the fireworks permit is politically motivated.

At the time, Noem signed an agreement with the Trump administration and the Home Office to work on the return of the fireworks display this year. But the National Park Service last month rejected the state’s request for the fireworks display, citing safety concerns, objections from local Native American tribes and lingering concerns about crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s event sparked concerns over the wildfires set off by the fireworks, as well as protests from Lakota activists calling for a return of the land to tribal control.

But Noem said the fireworks permit was withdrawn for political reasons. She has often criticized President Joe Biden.

“I will take legal action against the administration to recover the fireworks,” she said.

The governor’s office did not provide details of the trial, but said more information would be announced shortly.


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