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St. Charles pulls proposal for Charlottesville-based statue of Sacagawea

St. Charles pulls proposal for Charlottesville-based statue of Sacagawea

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ST. CHARLES — Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said the city has withdrawn its proposal to obtain a controversial Charlottesville, Virginia, statue featuring the explorers Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their Native American guide Sacagawea.

The controversy, which centers around the depiction of Sacagawea, who is shown seated next to Lewis and Clark, plus the lackluster fundraising response, were the primary reasons Borgmeyer cited in pulling out of the running on Monday, he said.

“The battle wasn’t worth the toll it was taking as far as publicity and everything else,” said Borgmeyer, who had enthusiastically backed the statue effort ever since Charlottesville announced this summer it would seek submissions from those interested in obtaining it.

Charlottesville removed the bronze sculpture, titled “Their First View of the Pacific,” in July, along with statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, following protests. Critics said the Lewis and Clark statue depicts Sacagawea in a “subservient” position.

The Virginia city then launched a process by which public and private entities could submit proposals to relocate the statue, along with ideas to publicly address the controversy surrounding the depiction of Sacagawea.

St. Charles submitted one of at least seven proposals from around the country for the statue, and launched a GoFundMe page Aug. 10 to pay for the relocation. Yet about eight weeks later, only $3,900 of the $50,000 goal had been pledged.

On top of that, Borgmeyer’s request for the backing of the Osage Nation, which has a historical connection to Missouri, was rebuffed.

The tribe’s Traditional Cultural Advisors committee replied in a letter last month that the city “would be perpetuating an outdated view of Native American women” with the statue, and suggested the city consider commissioning an original sculpture instead.

They also suggested that Borgmeyer contact the Shoshone tribe, which Sacagawea was part of, but the mayor said Monday he wasn’t going to “continue jumping through all of those hoops.” Borgmeyer also said he had not personally received the Osage Nation response.

Borgmeyer’s quest had some supporters, including at least one descendant each of Clark and Sacagawea, who provided comments that the city included in its proposal.

One other local submission for the statue came from St. Louis-area businessman Robert Hermann Jr., son of the late philanthropist and businessman Robert “Bob” Hermann. Others expressing interest included the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, a North Dakota tribal nation; and two Charlottesville-based entities.

All money pledged as part of the GoFundMe campaign will be refunded, Borgmeyer said.

Editor's note: The original phrasing in the article mischaracterized Sacagawea's placement on the statue; it has been updated.

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