October 04, 2009

Bear statue represents Indians

Flat Rock:  Bear statue honors Native Americans“This statue is a rightful tribute and salute to the many contributions Native Americans have made to our county,” Boike said.

Fay Givens, executive director of American Indian Services Inc., a Lincoln Park-based social services agency, said the statue is a bear because it represents the future for Native Americans.

The bear is a symbol for healing and patience, she said, which makes it appropriate not only for Native Americans, but also for the entire community. Everyone is in the same boat, she said.
And:Installation and construction of the statue was funded by $50,000 in parks millage funds from the county.

The location of the statue is significant because Huroc Park was the site of a former Wyandot Indian encampment, Givens said.

Wayne County has the largest Native American population in the state, she said. She said Native Americans from as many as 300 tribes live throughout the county.
Vandals hit statue days after ceremonyThree days after a statue of a bear to honor Native Americans was dedicated in Huroc Park, it was vandalized.

Police were called to the park at about 7 a.m. Sept. 26 on a vandalism report.

White paint had been thrown on the statue. The city’s Department of Public Service came out to the park and cleaned it off.
A comment on the first story:Hockeydino wrote on Sep 29, 2009 8:34 PM:

$50,000 for a bear statue? Are you kidding me?

In Wayne County no less! Again just another living example of how out of touch politicians, and political leaders are with the community--let alone with reality.

"The bear is a symbol for healing and patience." The community needs more than just a symbol for that; how about some action and common sense instead. We are all out of patience!

Edward Boike and Robert Ficano should be ashamed of themselves for attending and for allowing this to happen.
Comment:  This statue raises several questions:

  • The bear is a symbol for which tribe? The Wyandot? One of the other 299 tribes who lived in the area? All 300 tribes? Although the articles don't give us much information, the bear sounds terribly generic.

  • Is the bear really a symbol for healing and patience? How many tribes would agree with that? How many would say the bear represents strength, courage, or a related quality?

    How many non-Indians will see the bear and think, "Native Americans...healing and patience...the future"? And how many will think, "Big, ferocious animal"? Even if the statue has a plaque that spells it out, even if people read it, how many will remember this counterintuitive message?

  • We don't know what the statue looks like or what its signage, if any, says. But I suspect many people will get the wrong message. Namely, that bears represent Indians because Indians are like bears. That even if Indians are human, they're closer to nature and the animal kingdom than the rest of us. That they're simple, primitive hunter-gatherers--like bears--with no culture, art, or technology.

    Really...is this the best Flat Rock can do to "honor" Indians? Did the planners consider a wolf or an eagle before settling on a bear? Could this statue possibly be more of an Indian cliché?

  • $50,000 does seem a steep price for a bear statue. If it were in the downtown center of a major city...or if was a fantastic rendition of Indians that inspired people to learn more...maybe. But in a small Michigan town (pop. about 10,000)...in a park about the size of three city blocks...I don't think so.

  • Normally I support public art even when there are other pressing needs. But this statue seems so unconnected to to real Indian lore that I have to question its value. Wouldn't it be better to honor Indians by creating a center or program where people could actually learn about Indians?

  • For more on the subject, see Best Indian Monuments to Topple.

    Below:  A selection of bear statues, none of which scream "healing and patience" or "Indians" to me.

    Bears, cubs and grizzly sculptures

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