Cover, Nov. 18: “After the Obelisk”
Could Have Avoided
Mayor Alan Webber may have the best of intentions (and some success) in removing local monuments to conquest, religion and attempted genocide, but had he and the City Council acted in a timely manner, like many other municipalities around the country, perhaps the mob-like removal of the phallic obelisk could have been avoided and the monument moved and repurposed. It's unfortunate the action of Oct. 12 had to be the final solution to the problem. We are still waiting for the forum the mayor promised over six months ago to deal with such monuments on public property, some far less visible, that perpetuate this negative legacy. I am encouraged by the CHART commission. I call upon the City Council to convene it on Dec. 9 as planned and not continue to kick the can down the road.
Thank you for your fine article on the history of the obelisk. In addition to being a downtown landmark, it also spoke to the cross-currents and stresses of the city's multi-cultural history. It will be missed. Many of us were aware of the word "savages" being chiseled out of the obelisk's inscription in 1974. Fewer of us are aware how the meaning of the word "savages" has changed over time.
One of the first to use the word "savages" was Samuel De Champlain in his report titled Des Sauvages, ou, Voyage de Samuel Champlain, De Brouage. The title may have been selected by his publisher or indeed by Champlain himself, but it has lead to the impression that Champlain considered these native inhabitants to be wild or cruel. Actually the truth is quite the opposite. Sauvage in 17th century French is derived from the Latin silva meaning of the forest. It is generally agreed that Champlain regarded American Indians as fully equal to Europeans in intelligence and judgment and he was much impressed by their qualities of mind.
Glenn L. Pearsall
Santa Fe and Johnsburg, NY
Let it Grow Instead
Why do we need any kind of monument? Any time something goes up, it tends to be seen as ownership of some kind. How about a beautifully landscaped area, maybe designed by the botanical museum with all native plants, with some interesting and perhaps individually designed areas to sit.