Sacagawea Day

Sacagawea Misrepresented
Photo by John Lloyd
17 June 2001

Miss Representation and colleagues Miss Informed and Miss Ogyny protested the depiction of Sacagawea in a Charlottesville (VA) statue as a part of the Columbus Day commemoration. Sacagawea—who guided Meriweather Lewis, William Clark, and the other members of the Corps of Discovery through much of their historic exploration of the western part of the United States in 1803-1804—is shown crouching beside the two famous explorers in the statue, a pose that Jennifer Tidwell (AKA Miss Representation) said does not accurately reflect Sacagawea’s contribution to the expedition.

In a story entitled “Downtown statue draws protesters,” Kate Harmon reported about the event.

Ever since Jennifer Tidwell moved to Charlottesville 14 years ago, the Lewis and Clark statue at West Main Street and Ridge Street has bothered her.
Sacagawea is misrepresented, Tidwell said, because she is shown cowering in the background.

So this year, Tidwell organized a protest on Monday, Columbus Day, because she said it was Columbus’ discovery of America that led to the deaths of many Native Americans.

The protesters complained that the statue depicts explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark looking into the distance as their guide, Sacagawea, crouches in a subordinate position behind them.

Ms. Harmon also reported an alternative interpretation of the scene depicted by the statue. According to Anne Hemenway, representing the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, Sacagawea is crouched because she is examining tracks.

Lots of folks see the statue as Ms. Tidwell does. Ms. Harmon’s report is the first time I have heard the interpretation offered by Ms. Hemenway. It would be interesting to trace the statue’s history and learn what sculptor Charles Keck’s notes might reveal. There is no mention of the arrangement of the figures in the documents from the dedication of the statue.

There’s more to learn: See the page with supporting material, including the documents from the dedication, assembled as a digital history project and a page about the statue from PursueCharlottesville. Read Ms. Harmon’s story.



Filed under Amusements, Equity, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, Politics

5 responses to “Sacagawea Day

  1. Here’re some other places for coverage of the run up to the event: Stand up and lead, girl points at “Sacagawea is your new best friend” as well as an entry that also references the statue, “Subliminal Messages about White Male Supremacy.”

    Thanks to Miss Representation herself, here’s a list of other coverage of the story:

    ==> Daily Progress editorial, “Keep statue, with footnote“;

    ==> C-VILLE Weekly (scroll to “Monday, October 1, You didn’t hear this from us…”) lead-up hint and coverage, “Group protests Lewis and Clark (and Sacagawea) statue [October 8]“;

    ==> Charlottesville weekly The Hook coverage “Lewis & Clark host Columbus Day protesters” by Lisa Provence and Ms. Provence’s entry entitled “Sacagawea” in The Hook’s public blog (including comments by others); and

    ==> Local television station (Fox, ABC, CBS) Web site’s “Columbus Day Protest.”

    Some of these are likely subject to removal by the agencies that maintain them.

  2. I see that a fellow local runner, Joe Stirt, has a post about this story, too. See “Sacagawea — ‘Not crouching, but tracking’” at his Book of Joe.

  3. Pingback: More on Sacagawea « John Wills Lloyd

  4. Pingback: Sacagawea recognized « John Wills Lloyd

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