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The Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island in New York City was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

5 Monuments Guaranteed to Drive Natives Nuts

ICTMN Staff
7/31/13

Carving the faces of “founding fathers” who weren’t good for Indian policy into sacred mountains, having to walk by a monument of a man who was responsible for the death of countless Indigenous Peoples, building statues of men who killed countless Natives… why are there so many monuments for those who don’t deserve it?

Statue of Liberty

At a time when Natives were being persecuted, France donates the Statue of Liberty to the United States. A giant statue, the National Park Service calls a “universal symbol of freedom and democracy.” Let’s consider this: the 305-foot-tall statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated a National Monument in 1924. In 1886, Geronimo was the last Chiricahua Apache to surrender; he had spent his life resisting colonization of his homeland in the Southwest. So, while the U.S. is welcoming others, it was imprisoning this country’s Indigenous Peoples on reservations. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act was passed, which was yet another step by the government to assimilate the Indian population into white culture.

Facebook commenter Marie Sandvig put it quite well in regard to the Statue of Liberty being an atrocious monument: “Liberty for who, exactly?”

Construction of Mount Rushmore began in October 1927.

Mount Rushmore

Not only was Mount Rushmore carved into a sacred place in the Black Hills, Natives have always questioned who the “real” founding fathers of this country are. And that is not the faces carved into the mountain.

Before anyone called it Mount Rushmore, the Sioux called the mountain Six Grandfathers. It was named Rushmore in 1884 when New York City attorney Charles E. Rushmore asked what it was called.

“From the Indian perspective, the monument at Mount Rushmore was a symbol of the dominant culture’s arrogance, racism, and spiritual insensitivity. Carving icons of presidents who were known for their insensitivity to Indian issues into a living sacred mountain would be similar to painting anti-Christian graffiti inside of a cathedral, or anti-Semitic symbols inside a synagogue,” points out a post on Native American Netroots.

RELATED: A Different View of Mount Rushmore

Statue for Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle in New York City with the Time Warner Center in the background. (Wikimedia)

Columbus Circle

In bustling New York City, Christopher Columbus—a man who took Natives as slaves and brought disease to Turtle Island—has an important city intersection named after him at Columbus Circle as well as a large monument in the center of that circle. A marble statue of Columbus sits on top of a 70-foot granite column was created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo and completed in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing here, which was a harbinger of more death for the Indigenous Peoples here.

“Here’s a statue of Christopher Columbus,” Luis Ramos said, waving toward the center of Columbus Circle, “and there’s still a federally recognized holiday. They don’t realize the destruction still being implemented, the genocide.” Ramos was at Columbus Circle in 2012 for an Indigenous Day of Remembrance, which is held the day before Columbus Day.

RELATED: Natives Gather in Columbus Circle for ‘Indigenous Day of Remembrance’ to Honor Ancestors

This monument to Indian-killer Andrew Jackson is in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)

Andrew Jackson Monument

Why does a man nicknamed “Indian Killer” and “Sharp Knife” deserve to have more than one monument extolling his deeds? The proponent of Indian removal also earned the top spot on our list of worst U.S. presidents. Monuments to this brutal president can be found in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. and another, albeit smaller one, marks his birthplace in Lancaster, South Carolina.

“Andrew Jackson was a wealthy slave owner and infamous Indian killer, gaining the nickname ‘Sharp Knife’ from the Cherokee,” writes Amargi on the website Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice. “He was also the founder of the Democratic Party, demonstrating that genocide against indigenous people is a nonpartisan issue. His first effort at Indian fighting was waging a war against the Creeks. President Jefferson had appointed him to appropriate Creek and Cherokee lands. In his brutal military campaigns against Indians, Andrew Jackson recommended that troops systematically kill Indian women and children after massacres in order to complete the extermination. The Creeks lost 23 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama, paving the way for cotton plantation slavery. His frontier warfare and subsequent ‘negotiations’ opened up much of the southeast U.S. to settler colonialism.”

This George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument is in Monroe, Michigan. (Detroit1701.org)

George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument

Defeated at Greasy Grass, or the Battle of Little Bighorn as it’s called in history books, it’s often forgotten that Custer was the one who started that fight by attacking an Indian village. It’s just the force of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho who finished it. It could also be said that it is because of Custer that the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was not abided by and the Black Hills were taken away from the Lakota. He led an expedition there in 1874 and discovered gold, which prompted the United States government to violate the treaty, take back the land and move the Lakota to reservations.

In his honor, the George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument was erected in 1910 in Monroe, Michigan, his childhood home. There is also a memorial to him, a bronze statue in his birthplace in New Rumley, Ohio.

This bronze statue of Custer is in his birthplace of New Rumley, Ohio. (Wikimedia)

This is in no way an all-inclusive list, there are hundreds of monuments around the country that should never have been built. Tell us what monuments you think shouldn’t exist.

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Johnjack's picture
Johnjack
Submitted by Johnjack on
Another infamous leader of Colonial America; Fort Bend County Mirabeau B. Lamar Monument (Richmond, Texas) ie in Texas was the 2nd President of the Republic of Texas and his aggressive Indian policy towards the Cherokee Chief Duwali, and his associate band of Eastern Tribes who had moved to Texas due to encroachment in the Eastern States. The Texas Cherokee were mainly of the Chichaumauga bands and other who had left Tennessee and North Carolina before Jackson removed the other Cherokee in 1839. Mirabeau B. Lamar initiated his Indian War, in July of that year, after Sam Houston had left Texas for business in WDC, Tennessee., Sam Houston being the most outspoken and committed advocate of Native people and their rights in Texas or probably the United States during the early 19th century and being an adopted Cherokee himself by Tribal Chief John Jolly, and close friends with Chief Bowles/Duwali of the Texas Ani yun wiya'.

tmsyr11's picture
tmsyr11
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
you might as well throw the $5 bill in as well. And probably the Lincoln Memorial too. There SHOULD'VE been a statue of the Indian Veteran as "Brothers" standing next to white, black, latino as the monument to the Vietnam War.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
it isnt exactly a 'monument' but i have always thought the 4th of july is particularly insulting, and have NEVER participated on any grandiose level.....

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
There was a College History Professor at Mississippi State I believe that warns people not to believe everything they read on a monument to be True - these are monuments that are not True...............(Please Excuse the Spacers between sentences,but it helps with reading my comments,Thanks).... ...................................................................................................................... I had a Contemporary Medicine Women tell me "Not Speak ill of The Dead; but I figure if they earned it - they wear it - Good,Bad or Indifferent - besides if they don't like it, We can Talk about it in the "Spirit World" afterwords. ....................................................................................................................... The conquers write the History, and the ill informed build "monuments" without confirmation of the Facts as is illustrated.................................................. ....................................................................................................................... I guess we could build Monuments next to the one's that tell part of the Story; but a better way would to "re-write the History Books too include "Red History" in the Story - it would certainly reach more audience!............ .................................................................................................................... One thing is FACT, the Native Americans have been fighting "Terrorism" since 1492 !......................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................... Now that would make one Factual Monument !..................................... .................................................................................................................... ...................................-De Oppresso Liber-............................................. ....................................................................................................................

whitehorse's picture
whitehorse
Submitted by whitehorse on
The MOST racist symbol in America is the American FLAG! Yes, the American FLAG! The same flag that was flown as our ancestors were massacred! The same flag that flew over the Indian wars that were waged from the 15th century to the late 19th century. The same flag that the "White" man expects all "good" NDNS to honor and respect. Where is Native American's honor and respect? Is it the bucked tooth, tomahawk chopping, spear chucking mascots? Is it our "soverign nation" reservations? Unless the US. Gov't wants to run an oil pipeline, drill for uranium, oil, gas, and tax casinos?
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