Why not a Ute statue at state Capitol?
Chief Massasoit piece triggers questions about why Utah Indians not represented.
"It's a great piece of artwork," Lovell said. "They can put it wherever they want."
Cuch suggested one noteworthy Utah Indian who could be memorialized in bronze: Chief Black Hawk. He was a Ute who rallied not only his tribe but also Paiutes and Navajos during the Black Hawk War of 1865 to 1868, when violence erupted between Mormon settlers and American Indians over food shortages.
Here's the additional information about the sculptor that has softened Lovell's stance:
At age 18, he moved to Boston to study sculpture and later took two trips to Paris to learn the art from master sculptors.
He soon gained international recognition for his monumental, award-winning statues of American Indians and patriots. He returned to Utah to craft the Angel Moroni statue for the Salt Lake City LDS Temple and the Brigham Young Monument on Main Street.
He created three Chief Massasoit statues. Besides Utah's Capitol, the statues are in Plymouth, Mass., and on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo.
With his interest in Mormons and patriots, it's easy to believe Dallin had a messianic view of America's greatness--the shining city on a hill whose Manifest Destiny it was to civilize and rule the continent. Did he envision Massasoit as the leader of a Lost Tribe of Israel who held the land in reserve for the white man? Was Massasoit the equivalent of the caretaker who kept the house running until the master returned to live there?
I'd say this is less of a reason to honor Massasoit, not more of one. Not that I'd ever suggest destroying a nice statue. Send it to Massachusetts where it belongs, or put it in a less prominent place at the Utah Capitol. Add a plaque that interprets the statue--that tells what Dallin intended to convey and what Indians think of it. Something like this:
If that isn't enough of a reason to downplay the statue, just look at it. This is essentially Massasoit as a young Indian warrior or "brave." A pure physical specimen like Michelangelo's David. The emphasis is on Massasoit's animal-like qualities--the lithe, muscular body--and not his human qualities of leadership and wisdom.
This statue doesn't honor Massasoit the great chief for his vision of interracial harmony. It "honors" Massasoit the noble savage for his resemblance to Adam or a big cat. This Indian is at home in his unspoiled Garden of Eden but knows nothing of "civilization." He's literally a babe in the woods when it comes to religion, philosophy, law, art, or science.
In short, the statue is a pure stereotype. The state should keep it out of the limelight for that reason.
For more on the subject, see Best Indian Monuments to Topple.