Here are two more cases where negative images of Native Americans in historic public art have stirred citizen complaints, echoing the debates about confederate statues in the south.
Communities are facing critical questions about what values and stories they want displayed in their public spaces — and whether to hold onto some artwork simply because it’s old.
In San Fransisco, the city’s Arts Commission voted unanimously March 5 to remove a public statue titled “Early Days”. The statue “depicts a vaquero and a missionary standing over a sitting Native American,” according to an NPR story. It sends a clear message of who is on top and who is on the bottom, who has power and who does not.
“Early Days” was erected in 1894 as part of the five-piece Pioneer Monument, according to a San Fransisco city report. Pioneer Monument consists of one central monument standing 47-feet tall, surrounded by four smaller pedestal monuments.
Pioneer Monument is a testament to Manifest Destiny. One bas relief on the main monument shows “California’s Progress Under American Rule,” and one of five portrait medallions honors Father Junipero Serra who created the California mission system.
The five-piece monument was moved from its original site in the 1990s to make way for the new San Fransisco City Library. At the time, Native American community members pushed, unsuccessfully, to have the whole monument retired. They especially wanted “Early Days” removed, as it was “seen as a symbolization of the degradation and genocide of Native Americans,” the city report said.
“Early Days” now will be “retained and preserved at an off-site storage facility,” according to the NPR story. A plaque will be installed at the site to explain its removal.
Meanwhile, in Durham, New Hampshire, home to the University of New Hampshire, an offensive Post Office painting remains. Community efforts to remove it are butting up against inflexible Post Office regulations. Continue reading