In a unanimous 4-0 vote on November 15th, with one councilman not attending the vote, the City of Charlottesville, VA voted to remove an iconic statue of explorers Lewis and Clark posing with their Native American guide Sacagawea.
According to WHSV, “representatives from the Shoshone Tribe met with city leaders for a work session” to discuss the message sent by this statue. Representatives included several distant descendants of Sacagawea, who at the age of 16 accompanied Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their 1804 exploration across previously remote areas of the Western Frontier. She is credited with guiding them across the unknown landscape and making the trip feasible through her survival skills.
The statue in question depicts the two American explorers standing on a ledge with Sacagewea crouching behind them while holding her child, nicknamed Pomp. It’s worth noting after Sacagewea’s death in 1812, Clark not only took over custody of the child but also paid for his education.
“This morning, I went out there to look at that statue. It did not make me feel good at all,” Sacagewea descendant Emma George told WHSV.
Another descendent, Ann Abrahamson, added after the removal was announced, “Native people in Virginia need no longer to be invisible. Once this image is removed, and once it is out of sight, it will bring a growth to people.”
The statue remained for over 100 years, being donated to the city in 1912 by Charles Keck in 1912.
Critics point towards the statue as being demeaning towards Sacagewea, calling out her depiction of cowering and hiding behind the two men. Though under the circumstances, it does seem fairly appropriate as many see her image as one of nurturing and protective of her infant son.
No date for removal was finalized, and the town will begin constructing cost estimates for the project. For now, the historic statue will remain.
Categories: U.S. News