N.C. Capitol could see American Indian memorial in near future
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The North Carolina Capitol in Raleigh features a statue of Andrew Jackson who signed the order leading to the Cherokee Trail of Tears in 1838. But, there is not a monument or plaque honoring any American Indian at the Capitol.
Thanks to a recent report, submitted to the N.C. Historical Commission by the North Carolina State Capitol Memorial Study Committee, that could soon change. The Committee recommends lifting the current moratorium on memorials at the Capitol to include recognitions of American Indians, African-Americans and women.
“The committee concurs with the widespread observation that the memorials in the Capitol and on its grounds do not sufficiently represent the diversity of North Carolina’s population,” the report states. “It is the recommendation of the committee that the American Indian memorial be nonfigurative, inclusive of all native peoples, and fabricated from appropriate and culturally relevant materials. The committee recommends use of an American Indian artist who is a resident of North Carolina.”
Carolyn Boone, J.D., from UNC-Pembroke, wrote in a blog seeking comments on the report, “The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is pleased that the North Carolina Historical Commission is considering the addition of new memorials on the State Capitol grounds to honor the contributions of ethnic minorities.”
But, not everyone is in agreement. In the same blog, Bernhard Thuersam, director of the Cape Fear Historical Institute, wrote, “To merely ‘diversity’ the grounds with the suggested groups is baldly racist, sexist, and classically Marxist, the last being in conflict with the republican virtues of our Constitution. Outstanding merit and honorable service to this State, regardless of color, race or sex, will tell North Carolinians who to so honor.”
John Coffee, deputy director for art at the N.C. Museum of Art, is in favor of the plan. In a letter to the N.C. Historical Commission he wrote, “If one believes that the commemorative monuments on Union Square should honor the most important events and the most praiseworthy men and women of North Carolina, then the present disparate group of monuments fails in many respects.”