I am in full support of removing the "Hiawatha" statue as soon as possible.
I anchor my support in my Unitarian Universalist faith, which compels us to promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
This statue is deeply offensive. It does not represent the Ho-Chunk Nation, which wants it removed because it is an insult to their people. Their wishes should be the primary consideration regarding the future of this statue.
For centuries, whites have used the image of the “Indian” to symbolize meanings over which indigenous people had no control. The statue is part of this ugly history, created by one more white man who projected his own ideas on a white-created symbol of indigenous people.
Those favoring the statue hold up the good intentions of its creator. For centuries, whites have wounded Native people through “good intentions.” These good intentions led to forced relocation onto reserves, mass epidemics, residential schools, cultural genocide and forced poverty. We must rightfully prioritize impact over intentions.
Others argue that the statue is a part of La Crosse’s history; a reframing of its meaning could be added at the present location. This option is not supported by the Ho-Chunk Nation. The damage of keeping the statue where it is outweighs any attempt to reduce its harmfulness by retroactively reframing its meaning.
La Crosse needs to do the right and moral thing. Remove the statue immediately and provide funding to the Ho-Chunk Nation to dispose of it as it sees fit.
Rev. Krista Taves, La Crosse