Hochul To Remove Certain Art Depictions Of Native Americans

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has promised to make changes to the state capitol building in Albany with a focus on removing offensive representations of Native Americans. In her 2024 State of the State report, the governor outlined her plan to address harmful depictions of Indigenous peoples in the artwork and memorials within the capitol.

According to Albany insiders, complaints from Native Americans regarding a mural depicting battles between European settlers and Native Americans sparked the governor's announcement. The mural, which includes scenes of war with the Five Nations of Iroquois and clashes with Samuel de Champlain, has been deemed offensive and glorifying violence against Indigenous peoples.

Hochul's report acknowledges that New York has a history of colonization and violence towards Native Americans, including battles during the War of 1812, where members of the Six Nations Confederacy were involved, and the French and Indian War, which resulted in the loss of land for Indigenous peoples. The governor recognizes that these wars were won by European settlers and that the current representation of these events in the capitol is not reflective of the state's values.

Under the header "Respond to Offensive Representations of Indigenous Peoples," the report states that all New Yorkers should feel welcome and respected when visiting the state capitol. It acknowledges that artwork in the building has the potential to alienate visitors, particularly Indigenous peoples who may see depictions that perpetuate harmful racial stereotypes and glorify violence against their communities.

To address these issues, Governor Hochul plans to conduct a comprehensive review of all artistic representations of Indigenous peoples in the capitol building. This review will include input from representatives of each of the nine Indigenous Nations recognized by the state. The goal is to ensure that the artwork displayed accurately reflects the values of New York and does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes or glorify violence.

The announcement has received praise from members of the Seneca Nation, an Indigenous community in New York. JC Seneca, a member of the nation, expressed support for the removal of murals and memorials that depict the loss of battles and land for Native Americans. He called these displays "braggadocious" and stated that they are offensive to his people who are still fighting for their sovereignty.

Seneca urged the governor to also remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from the capitol building. This call for action aligns with the governor's plans to comprehensively review all Indigenous representations in the capitol and ensure that they are not offensive or disrespectful to any community.

The review of artwork and memorials in the state capitol building is a crucial step toward promoting inclusivity and respect for all communities in New York. Governor Hochul's commitment to addressing offensive representations of Indigenous peoples demonstrates her dedication to creating a more inclusive and equitable state.

The decision to remove offensive artwork and memorials is just one of the many initiatives outlined in the governor's 2024 State of the State report. Hochul also addresses issues such as climate change, education, healthcare, and economic recovery in the comprehensive report.

As the first female governor of New York and one of only a handful of female governors in the country, Kathy Hochul's leadership and commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity is commendable. Her efforts to create a more welcoming and respectful environment for all who visit the state capitol are a step in the right direction towards a more equitable New York.

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