Artist creates limestone statue to honor Indian women who faced hardships during forced relocations
By Jan Biles
The cottonwood limestone monument, weighing nearly 20 tons, commemorates the 1830 Indian Removal Act, the forced relocation of Indians to lands east of the Mississippi River, and the Potawatomi Trail of Death, the forced removal of Potawatomi Indians from north-central Indiana to eastern Kansas in 1838.
Although his sculpture depicts a Mascouten woman, he said he named his work after Tonantzin, the Aztec goddess considered to be "the mother of all indigenous people."
The only thing I question is the name "Tonantzin." Some tribes may acknowledge kinship with the Aztec, but many don't. There's no widespread belief that Indians came from Mexico or that Tonantzin is a "mother goddess" to everyone. To give two examples, the Lakota honor White Buffalo Woman and the Navajo honor Changing Woman, not Tonantzin.
For more on the Trail of Death, see Signs Placed on Trail of Death and Caravan on the Trail of Death.