Justification to remove statues of Civil War generals is straightforward – there are no statues of Hitler in Germany so there should be no statues built to American proponents of slavery. (I was shocked to hear that 35 Confederate statues have been erected in North Carolina since 2000!) And we should take note that the Germans have taken a very thorough approach to removing visual reminders of World War II, as described here.
But I would also join the chorus of voices calling for the removal of statues that celebrate the racial oppression of Native Americans, perhaps starting with “End of the Trail,” a heartbreaking reminder of brutality
and a visual that reinforces the idea that Native Americans have been (and so always will be) vanquished. Not a sight that engenders pride and courage.
Wikipedia says: “The statue was sculpted by James Earle Fraser after it was commissioned by Clarence Shaler in 1929, as a tribute (sic) to the Native Americans. It is a copy cast in bronze of a plaster statue by Fraser that gained notoriety at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The original was moved from Visalia, California to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1968, where it was restored and is now on display at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The City of Visalia received a bronze replica as a replacement. A smaller bronze copy of the statue is on the campus of Winona State University in Fraser's home town, Winona, Minnesota.”
The Winona State University copy sits amid a mural painted as part of the WPA and is also criticized for its racism. (And I would like to know why Wikipedia can say that it was commissioned “as a tribute.” There’s no attribution for that.)
And then there are statues of Custer, Junipero Serra, and Andrew Jackson, as well as thematic statues including ones here in the San Francisco Bay Area:
· A monument to Saint Junipero Serra stands above Interstate 280 between San Francisco and San Jose
· Pioneer Monument in San Francisco, California, dedicated in 1894
· The Bear Hunt Statue, erected at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, was sculpted in 1892 by Douglas Tilden.
· And others, including the fight to rename the Washington DC football team. “The documentary More Than a Word by first-time filmmakers and brothers, John and Kenn Little, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, slices through the cacophonic chatter surrounding the team name” of the Washington R******s (their spelling), according to Voice of America.
Visuals count. Let’s keep going…into the theater, the football field, the public square.
#JessWells, #MoreThanAWord, #NativeAmericanRights