LA CROSSE, Wis. — After decades of debate, a Hiawatha statue will be removed from a park in La Crosse.
The La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to remove the statue from Riverside Park. Mayor Tim Kabat had pushed for the western Wisconsin city to follow the lead of other cities in addressing racism and cultural appropriation.
For decades Indigenous people and their allies had called for the statue’s removal, saying it represents exaggerated racial stereotypes and inaccurately depicts Native American tribes of the area.
“It is not an honor to us. It does not teach anything. People don’t learn about the Ho-Chunk people because they see a statue. It was a tourist attraction not meant to teach anything,” Tracy Littlejohn said during the board meeting. Littlejohn has long advocated for the statue's removal.
The statue will be stored at the city’s Municipal Service Center for at least one year until the artist’s family finds a new home for it, the La Crosse Tribune reported.