Friday, August 10, 2018

More history of statues

Seen some of these around Canada?
Victoria will remove a statue of John A. Macdonald from the steps of its city hall.  I've never been too keen on the desire to create a Canadian Father of His Country to mimic George Washington's role in Americn hagiography -- that has produced a proliferation of bronze Macdonalds across the country.

But just putting a statue in the warehouse and saying "Let's not talk about John A. Macdonald" does not seem like a fruitful way to talk about reconciliation or about history.

In Montreal the Bank of Montreal has decided, after 25 years of discussions, to seek a rewriting of a plaque that currently celebrates how Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of the colonial settlement of Montreal, killed a Haudenosaunee chief "with his own hands" on the site of the city's Place d'Armes in 1644.

But Michael Rice, a Mohawk who teaches in Montreal's public school system and who initiated debate about the plaque, is disappointed about the bank's response.
He never wanted the bank to remove the markers entirely, he said. Rather, he just wanted another plaque to be installed beside the original ones, to give the Iroquois perspective.
Rice said he called the bank about a year ago to ask, once again, if they could change the message on the building’s facade.

“What’s so difficult about putting another plaque underneath, saying the Iroquois were trying to defend their territory?” he asked. “They weren’t fighting for nothing.”
For Rice, leaving out the Iroquois’ intentions to protect their territory helps to erase their history on the island of Montreal.
 Meanwhile on the website The Conversation, American historian Cynthia Prescott notes that while 700 Confederate statues have been removed or come under review in the United States, the issue of "pioneer statues" that celebrate the defeat and dispossession of indigenous peoples has yet to be addressed in that country (with some exceptions which she notes).
Many cities are removing or reinterpreting their Confederate monuments, with the understanding that they commemorate racism. But few Americans realize that pioneer monuments placed across the country are also racist. ...
In the past few years, cities such as New Orleans, Louisiana and Baltimore, Maryland have chosen to remove their Confederate statues. Activists tore down a Confederate soldier statue in Durham, North Carolina last year.
By contrast, there has been far less attention on the roughly 200 pioneer monuments erected for similar reasons around the same time.
Photo source (and thanks for link to Prescott article): History News Network
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