Image source: Wikipedia Commons
This statue promoting an outdated narrative of American history used to sit on the Capitol steps, but hasn't been seen in 56 years.

Yo, Daniel Snyder! D.C. Dumped These Demeaning 'Redskin' Images in 1958


Walk around Washington, DC, and you'll see plenty of sports fans wearing caps and t-shirts that promote an outdated image and offensive slur of a nickname for American Indians. But you won't see two statues that once stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol selling the narrative that the original inhabitants of Turtle Island were not-so-noble savages.

The sculptures are (or were) "The Rescue" by Horatio Greenough and "Discovery of America" by Luigi Persico. The former, installed in 1853, depicted a pioneer family and an attacking American Indian warrior who is wielding a tomahawk. In fact, there isn't much to the fight -- the huge European-descended father is rather calmly subduing the sinewy and wild-eyed Native berserker. To one side, the pioneer's wife shields an infant from the conflict; on the other side, the family dog looks on in mild alarm.

"Discovery of America," installed in 1844, shows a triumphant Christopher Columbus holding aloft a globe while an Indian woman cowers in anger to his right, her body language indicating fear.

Over time, both statues became controversial, and were removed in 1958 when the Capitol building was extended. They have remained in storage ever since.

A 1939 photograph from the Library of Congress shows a white-haired, bespectacled lawmaker posing on "The Rescue." It is captioned (emphasis added):

Congress urged to remove tomahawk-swinging Indian statue from steps of Capitol. Washington, D.C., April 27. If Rep. Usher Burdick, Republican of North Dakota has his way, the 87 year old statue standing on the steps of the Capitol which depicts a frontiersman rescuing a white woman from a possible redskin tomahawking will "be ground into the dust and scattered to the four winds." Introducing a resolution in the House to that effect, the legislator said, "the American Indian was no worse than some of our own ancestors, and there is no more reason to memorialize his misdeeds than there would be to set up a monument to the witch burners of Salem."

Here's the Library of Congress photo:

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