California weighs replacement of statue of Indian mission figure

A statue of Juniperro Serra represents California in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Photo from U.S. Capitol / Flickr

The state of California might replace one of its representatives in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

Junipero Serra has represented the state since 1931. But his legacy as the founder of the Indian mission system has always been a source of controversy.

“The enslavement and forced conversion of our Native American people into the mission systems was a despicable thing,” Lorena Levine, a member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe and a board member of the Inter-Tribal Council of California, told The Washington Post. “Our people were enslaved, raped, murdered and treated as animals in the name of progress, our ways of life were sacrificed in the name of religion and it is time that the genocide that occurred on American soil is recognized as such, rather than dismissed as bitter rantings from a defeated people”

An effort to replace Serra's statue with one of Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space, though, has generated controversy too. Some are wondering why the state wants to take action just as Pope Francis plans to bestow sainthood on the Catholic figure.

The California Senate already approved a resolution to send the statue of Ride to the U.S. Capitol. The Assembly is likely to vote on the issue, the Post reported.

Get the Story:
Debate over statues sets Californians at odds — and ropes in the Pope (The Washington Post 4/29)

An Opinion:
Dan Walters: California Senate dishonors Junipero Serra on verge of sainthood (The Sacramento Bee 4/24)

Related Stories:
Steven Newcomb: Church celebrates agent of Native genocide (4/28)
Peter d'Errico: Pope fails to address genocide of Native peoples (4/27)
Peter d'Errico: A mistake with sainthood for Indian mission figure (02/06)
Steven Newcomb: Pope celebrates church's legacy of genocide (2/4)
RNS: Critics question sainthood for the 'Columbus of California' (2/3)
Sainthood for founder of brutal California Indian mission system (01/22)
Steven Newcomb: Church set to sanctify legacy of domination (1/19)

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