The George Rogers Clark University statue was removed from the grounds Sunday morning, following the city of Charlottesville’s withdrawal of two Confederate statues and one of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea on Saturday.
Dozens of community members gathered to watch the contract team at Team Henry Enterprises, clapping and cheering as they lifted the representation of the Revolutionary War figure from its base. The statue depicts Clark on horseback with a crew behind him, as they encroach on a group of Native Americans. Native Americans and community activists have denounced imagery as an example of white supremacy and colonial violence for years.
The statue was erected in 1921 and commissioned by Charlottesville philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire. Namesake of the college’s business school and arts and music departments, McIntire also funded the city statues of Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Lewis and Clark who descended on Saturday.
The team drove the statue out of the site around 10 a.m. and then began to deconstruct the base of the statue. The pedestal is engraved with Clark’s name and the descriptor “Conqueror of the Northwest,” referring to his role in the expansion of United States territory across the United States. violent displacement Native Americans.
The bases for the three city statues that were moved on Saturday will be removed at a later date, while construction at the university site will continue throughout the week, according to university spokesperson Brian Coy. The University plans to store the George Rogers Clark statue and work with a committee to determine a suitable location.
A spokesperson for the university said Daily progress Saturday that the statue was going to be removed, which University deputy spokesman Brian Coy confirmed to Cavalier Daily.
“As recommended in the Racial Equity Task Force report and approved by the Visitors’ Committee in September 2020, the University contracted for the removal of the George Rogers Clark from University Avenue,” Coy said.
The Board of Visitors approved the University’s Racial Equity Task Force proposal that the statue be removed in September. Anthony Guy Lopez, head of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Group, recalled in a previous interview with The Cavalier Daily that before the administration of university president Jim Ryan, he had advocated for the removal of the statue throughout of the mandates of John T. Casteen III and Teresa Sullivan. Lopez headed the George Rogers Clark Statue Disposal Committee and is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
While the removal of the statue is an important step towards rectifying the representation of Native Americans at the University, Lopez says there is still structural work to be done. He noted that Native Studies still did not have a lasting and established university curriculum beyond a minor.
“It’s a new start for the University, but I think if we’re not careful, if we don’t replace the statue with something substantial… it’s just an erasure,” Lopez said in an interview. at Cavalier Daily Sunday. “That’s all we accomplished – erasing the only Native American presence at the University.”
In August 2019, a local petition asking the University to remove the statue collected 675 signatures. Ryan forwarded the recommendation to the University President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation.
A few months later, the Native American Student Union, Latinx Student Alliance, Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, and Central Americans for Empowerment co-hosted a march to the site to commemorate People’s Day. natives protesting against national celebration of Columbus Day. The following month, the statue was disfigured with red paint, which the university covered with a tarp and then removed.
Last summer, UVAToday published a Account of the statue’s history as one of four division monuments built in Charlottesville between 1916 and 1924. PCUAS researchers have described them as “powerful symbols of white supremacy.”
“The statues of Lee and Jackson perpetuate the myth of the lost cause and actively distort American history,” the report read. “The monuments of George Rogers Clark and Lewis and Clark do much the same – they help maintain many of the most destructive myths about American Indians.”
Ahead of the board’s vote in September, protesters gathered around the statue, urging the University to do more than just remove the structure, with demands that included the creation of a U.Va. Native American Foundation to return the University lands to the Monegasque nation, changing the zoning of the area to allow a multi-story building and building an indigenous cultural center in place of the statue. Advocates add that the University should take such steps with formal consultation with tribal stakeholders and establish a full-time Indigenous Liaison Office at the University.
“The statue expressed some truth about the legacy of American treatment of indigenous peoples,” Lopez said, reiterating the call for the university to have an impact beyond the removal of the statue. “You know there was some truth in the law, it was valuable. But without that there – without a real substantial commitment – we were erased. “