A historical marker was dedicated last Friday to Sacagawea at the statue of Lewis and Clark on West Main Street in Charlottesville. The statue’s image of the Shoshone Indian woman has long been controversial; she’s kneeling, which some people have interpreted as being too subservient. According to the Daily Progress:
The statue was erected in 1919 by celebrated New York sculptor Charles Keck. At the time, there were varying opinions on the work: an article in Natural History magazine from 1919 says the artist represented Sacagawea “Bending forward, intent on the vast expanse of the ocean.” Paul Goodloe McIntire, who donated the statue to the city, said Sacagawea’s addition to the work made it “greatly improved,” according to documents kept at the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.
Still, many residents have thought Sacagawea’s stance is unfair. A group of about 25 women protested the statue in 1997, and city resident Jennifer Tidwell organized a protest about Sacagawea’s portrayal in October 2007. After the outcries, the City Council last year unanimously approved placing the marker commemorating Sacagawea next to the statue.
On Friday, Tidwell said, “I didn’t imagine a ceremony like this.” The event included Native American prayers, dancing, music and Sacagawea’s descendants blessing the marker.
“At the moment, I’m pretty moved,” Tidwell said.