Thursday, October 11, 2007
In Defense of the Lewis and Clark Statue
The Daily Progress had an article on Tuesday about a protest that took place at the Lewis and Clark Statue (pictured above) Monday on West Main Street in Charlottesville. The protest took place on Columbus Day (Get it?) and the leader takes offense at the fact that the Indian guide Sacagawea is pictured in a "subordinate position" in the 1919 statue. She would like to see the statue removed or a plaque placed to correct the "historical inaccuracy."
Here are the problems with this protest:
1. As Ms. Hemenway of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center points out in the article, the placement of Sacagawea is likely to depict her as tracking not cowering.
2. Without disparaging the important role of Sacagawea, the statue's primary goal is to honor Lewis and Clark and their role in Western exploration. Like it or not, these men were the leaders of the expedition. To think otherwise it is engage in historical anachronism. Anyhow, isn't it, in fact, honoring Sacagawea by including her in the scene, even if in a supporting role?
3. Isn't this kind of protest an example of censorship? Is the artist who made the statue (even though long dead) to be denied the freedom to express himself using the arrangement of figures and design that he chooses? My guess is that those protesting are unware of the irony of their actions. They want the right to express their views, but they want to deny the expression of the artist and those who enjoy the statue. Perhaps they should raise funds to place their own statue of Sacagawea (sans Lewish and Clark), but please don't censor this one.