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Charlottesville’s Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark statue sits at Darden Towe Park waiting for permanent home

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 9:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Only one of the four statues taken down in the Charlottesville area last weekend has found itself at a potentially permanent new home.

The statue of Sacajawea (also spelled Sacagawea), Lewis and Clark is now standing -- off its pedestal -- at Darden Towe Park, near the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center.

The statue is not technically the Center’s, at least not yet. That requires formal action from the city council, but it’s quite possible that’s where it’ll stay.

“We did not lobby for its removal,” said Alexandria Searls, the executive director of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. “We felt it was important for the city residents themselves to make their decision.”

After city council voted to move it to the park, the question remains: what’s next?

If it stays at the Center, Searls says it will be contextualized. She’s glad the statue was not destroyed.

“Just because a statue is standing, doesn’t mean that people agree with everything that it conveys,” she said.

Ross Ann Abrahamson, a descendent of Sacajawea, doesn’t feel the same way about the preservation of the statue, which depicts Sacajawea crouched below the other two figures. Now that it’s down on the ground, it’s evident that Sacajawea is basically at eye-level, with the other two towering over her.

“I feel that it’s entirely offensive and it should be obliterated, but if it can be utilized to give a message, to give a greater message to educate the public, that could be an opportunity,” Abrahamson said.

City councilors hope the statue can be that source of education.

It already has been that for Searls. She says seeing it up close made her see what art historians have pondered -- Sacajawea may be carrying an infant, covered and cradled in her arms.

As for what Searls hopes to teach if she does receive the statue: “I really want them to learn critical thinking, I really want to ask them certain questions, looking at the statue and other representations and make up their own minds about their interpretation. I’d like to put indigenous interpretation front and center.”

Searls says if they are given the statue, they would like to have indigenous interpreters giving tours at the Center.

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