The University George Rogers Clark statue was removed from the Grounds on Sunday morning after the city of Charlottesville will remove two Confederate statues and one of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea on Saturday.
Dozens of community members gathered to watch the hired team of Team Henry Enterprises, clapping and cheering as they lifted the representation of the Revolutionary War figure from their base. The statue depicts Clark on horseback with a crew behind him, as they invade a group of Native Americans. Native Americans and community activists have denounced the images 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. The namesake of the University's School of Commerce and art and music departments, McIntire also funded the city statues of Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Lewis and Clark that were unveiled on Saturday.
The team drove the statue from the site around 10 a.m., then began work on the deconstruction of the statue's base. The pedestal is engraved with Clark's name and the descriptor "Conqueror of the Northwest", which refers to his role in the expansion of the territory of the United States through the violent displacement of Native Americans.
The bases of the three City statues that were relocated on Saturday will be removed at a later date, while construction on the University site will continue throughout the week, according to the Spokesperson for Brian Coy University. The University plans to store the George Rogers Clark statue and work with a committee to determine an appropriate location.
A University spokesperson told The Daily Progress on Saturday that the statue was to be removed, which University deputy spokesperson Brian Coy confirmed with The Cavalier Daily.
"As recommended in the Racial Equity Task Force report and approved by the Visitor Board in September 2020, the University has contracted to remove the George Rogers Clark on University Avenue," Coy said.
The Visitor Board approved the University Racial Equity Task Force proposal that the statue be removed in September. Anthony Guy Lopez, head of the Indian and Native American Studies Group, recalled in an earlier interview with The Cavalier Daily that prior to the administration of University President Jim Ryan, he advocated for the statue to be removed during the terms of John T. López chaired the George Rogers Clark Statue Disposition Committee and is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
While the statue's removal is an important step toward rectifying Native American representation at the university, Lopez says there is still structural work to be done. He pointed out that indigenous studies still lack an established and sustainable academic program beyond a minor.
"This is a new beginning for the University, but I think if we are not careful, if we do not replace the statue with something substantial … it is just an erasure," Lopez said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily on Sunday. "That is all we have achieved: the elimination of the only Native American presence in the University."
In August 2019, a local petition for the University to remove the statue garnered 675 signatures. Ryan passed the recommendation to the University President's Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation.
Months later, the Union of Native American Students, the Latinx Student Alliance, Latinxs Politicians United for Movement and Action in Society, the Environmental Coalition of Virginia and Central American Students for Empowerment organized a march to the site to commemorate the Day. of Indigenous Peoples in protest at the national observance of Columbus Day. The following month, the statue was defaced with red paint, which the University covered with a canvas and then removed
Last summer, UVAToday published an account of the statue's history as one of four dividing monuments built in Charlottesville between 1916 and 1924. PCUAS researchers described them as "powerful symbols of white supremacy."
"The statues of Lee and Jackson perpetuate the Lost Cause myth and actively distort American history," the report said. "The monuments to George Rogers Clark and Lewis and Clark do much the same thing: they help sustain many of the most destructive myths about American Indians."
Before the Board's vote in September, protesters rallied around the statue urging the University to do more than simply remove the structure, with demands that included the establishment of a U.Va. The Native American Foundation will return the University's land to the Monacan Nation, rezoning the area to allow for a multi-story building and constructing an Indigenous Cultural Center in place of the statue. Advocates add that the University should take such action with the formal consultation of tribal stakeholders and establish a full-time indigenous liaison office at the University.
"The statue expressed a certain truth about the legacy of the United States' 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 to the statute, that it had value. But without it, without a real substantive commitment, they have erased us. ”