While it was on a spree of wiping out history, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday decided it might as well erase even more of America’s heritage from public view.


Saturday had been set as the day for the city to remove its statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.


Because that removal was completed faster than anticipated, according to the New York Post, city officials held a hurriedly called meeting with 20 minutes notice and gave a unanimous OK for workers to truck away yet another statue.

This one was a monument to Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped guide the  Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the continental United States through the newly purchased Louisiana Territory to the Pacific Ocean during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.



The statue had been standing in Charlottesville since 1919.

The statue was trucked to Darden Towe Park in Albemarle County, the location of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, according to The Daily Progress of Charlottesville. Lewis was a native of Albemarle County.


City Manager Chip Boyles said city officials packed off the Lewis-Clark-Sacagawea statue because it could be done with no additional funding beyond the $1 million the city approved for removing the statues, The Daily Progress reported.

The city had voted in 2019 that it would remove the statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. The statue offended modern sensibilities for the pose in which Sacagawea was portrayed, crouching while the two men stood erect.


Critics said that made Sacagewea look subservient, but some historians say it was meant to show her role as a tracker on the expedition.

 


Rose Ann Abrahamson, who has said she is a descendant of Sacagawea and a Shoshone-Bannock woman, claims the statue shows Sacagawea “cowering and recoiling.”


She said that after seeing many statutes to her ancestor, “This statue in Charlottesville was the worst we have ever seen,” according to The Daily Progress.


Abrahamson would have been fine if the statue was never seen again.

“I feel that it should just be melted down,” Abrahamson said, the newspaper reported. “That’s my opinion. I feel that it’s entirely offensive and it should be obliterated. But if it can be utilized to … greater message to educate the public, that would be an opportunity. So I’m very pleased with what is taking place, and it’s been a long road.”


Mayor Nikuyah Walker said the city has worked to be “really thoughtful about making that decision by bringing in Sacagawea’s descendants here,”


“And so this is I think how we should make decisions,” he said, according to The Daily Progress. “We tried to remove what we thought, and ask them what they thought, and that’s how this decision was made.”


Alexandria Searls, director of the Lewis and Clark center, said the center had worked with Shoshone people who were interested in creating new art to accompany the statues.

“We need to ensure that the recontextualization is driven by and fully includes indigenous residents in the indigenous community,” said Michael Payner, a member of the Charlottesville City Council. “That’s really the only question mark to me.” 

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