The "Early Days" statue at Pioneer Monument in San Francisco, California. Photo: Beyond My Ken

Statue of Native man at feet of 'early' explorers will be coming down

A statue featuring a nearly naked Native man at the feet of a cowboy and a Catholic missionary is coming down in San Francisco, California.

"Early Days" is part of the Pioneer Monument near city hall. The symbols and imagery on it are told "from a Euro-American point of view," the staff on the city's arts commission said in a report that was written following deadly racial violence in Virginia last fall.

“It’s more than just racist,” activist Mariposa Villaluna of Take Down The 'Pioneer' Statue in San Francisco Now told The New York Times. “It celebrates human subjugation.”

According to the art commission staff report, "Early Days" features symbols of key people and key periods of time in California history. It pays tribute to the gold mining era, which contributed to genocide of Native peoples and the loss of their homelands, and to people like Junipero Serra, who was the founder of the brutal Indian mission system.

But indigenous peoples, their history or their contributions to the state, are not depicted at all except for the statue of the Native man who is clad in just a blanket. A panel in "Early Days" also features a series of Native people "naked and barefooted," the staff report stated.

All of those portions will be gone once "Early Days" is removed and placed in storage. There are no plans for a replacement monument but a plaque will be installed to explain why it was removed.

The San Francisco Arts Commission voted unanimously to remove "Early Days" at a meeting on Monday

Read More on the Story:
SF to remove ‘Early Days’ statue over racist depiction of Native Americans (The San Francisco Examiner March 5, 2018)
San Francisco will remove pioneer statue some call racist (The Associated Press March 6, 2018)
Arts Commission Unanimously Votes To Remove 'Early Days' Statue (Hoodline March 6, 2018)
San Francisco Will Remove Controversial Statue of Native American Man (The New York Times March 7, 2018)
After final vote, city will remove racist Pioneer Monument statue (Curbed SF March 7, 2018)
San Francisco to remove what's been called a 'racist and disrespectful' statue (CNN March 8, 2018)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Event looks at symbols of White supremacy in mascots, monuments (March 1, 2018)
Pope Francis fails to address mistreatment of tribes in California (September 24, 2015)
Papal mass features reading in Native language from California (September 23, 2015)