Native Americans in San Francisco are applauding a decision to remove a statue from a location on Fulton Street. The statue is titled “Early Days” and depicts a reclining Native American figure. Standing over him in a dominant pose is Sir Francis Drake. Reaching down to the supplicant Native is Catholic priest and missionary Junipero Serra.

Members of California Indian tribes have long wanted to statue removed because they say it displays Native people in a condescending manner compared to European settlers.

The San Francisco’s Arts Commission’s decision to nix the monument is part of a wave of removals of monuments around the country that are deemed out of step with today’s political, social and cultural context. Statues of Confederate Civil War heroes, for example, have been scrapped in numerous locations across America.

One of the Art Commission members is Barbara Mumby, a Native American with tribal origins in both California and New York. She said removal of the statue was “a long time coming.” Getting rid of the statue is a “big deal,” she said.

The Historic Preservation Commission also signed off on the removal of Early Days, but asked that a plaque explaining the reason behind the removal be placed on the site.

The city of San Francisco has taken other steps recently to update and interpret historic events in the region, including voting to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Early Days piece was sculpted by Frank Happersberger, an American immigrant from Germany.

Categories: Native American, Native American History

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