Madison Park, CNN, March 8, 2018
The controversial statue that critics have deemed as “San Francisco’s monument to white supremacy” is coming off its pedestal.
The bronze statue that shows a partially clothed Native American man at the feet of two men — a cowboy and a Catholic missionary — will be plucked from its prominent location in San Franciscoina process that begins in coming weeks.
To its critics, the bronze statue called “Early Days” is an offensive and condescending depiction of Native Americans that fails to acknowledge racism, colonization and genocide.
And this week, the San Francisco Arts Commission unanimously agreed to remove “Early Days” from the city’s Pioneer Monument, which contains a cluster of five statues.
Efforts to remove “Early Days” started in the 1990s when the group of statues were being moved to construct a new main library. Some Native Americans wanted the whole monument and especially “Early Days” gone. Instead, the statues along with “Early Days” were moved to their current location with a new plaque that explained the history of what happened to California’s Native Americans.
“This plaque has been covered up by plants for many years, and does not offer an explanation of the historical context of these racist images, and does not extend any apology for the theft of land, colonization, subjugation, and near-annihilation of Native American people,” according to the “Take Down the Pioneer Statue” Facebook group that has sought to get rid of the statue.
The statue is to be taken down and placed in storage with an estimated cost of $160,000 to $200,000. A plaque will be placed near where it once stood explaining why it has been taken down, according to the Arts Commission.
“Early Days” was created by California artist Frank Happersberger who completed the Pioneer Monument in 1894. The work was to pay tribute to California’s history including the early settlement of the mission.