Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Chicago monuments under assault, Part 23: Fort Dearborn Massacre Monument

The Fort Dearborn Massacre Monument, a bronze sculpture designed by Carl Rohl-Smith, is one of the 41 statues, plaques, and reliefs that "warrant attention or action" according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Chicago Monuments Project.

The statue got plenty of attention in 1999 when Chicago's Office of Public Art of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs placed it in storage. Last summer, after a riot--oops, unrest--outside Grant Park's Christopher Columbus statue, all three of Chicago's Columbus statues were shipped off to storage too.

Click here to see the Fort Dearbon Massacre Monument.

First some history. Early in the War of 1812 Potawatomi Indians attacked soldiers and their family members about about a mile-and-a-half south of Fort Dearborn. They had just abandoned the fort, which stood where now Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive meet. The Fort Dearborn Massacre, or if you prefer, the Battle of Fort Dearborn, was a resounding victory for the Potawatomi. While to this day historians argue over who was the winner of the War of 1812--some say the British, others say the Americans, more say it was a draw--the clear losers were the Native American tribes who sided with the British.

Rohl-Smith's monument shows an Indian wielding a tomahawk about to attack a white woman, Margaret Helm, the wife of a US army officer and the stepchild of John Kinzie, Chicago's first white resident. Another Indian, Black Partridge, is trying to protect Helm. 

The chances that the Fort Dearborn Massacre Monument seeing the light of day in Chicago are dismal. But what purpose is served by locking it up in a warehouse? I have an idea. The city of Chicago, which is banrkupt in all but name, should sell it. Seriously. Rohl-Smith is an accomplished artist and there has to be a museum somewhere, perhaps in the sculptor's native Denmark, that will buy it. 

Proceeds of the sale should go to one of Chicago's several woefully underfunded pension plans

Again, I'm totally serious here.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project's "Feedback page." Please be polite but firm in your comments. 

Please Tweet this post. When you do so use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Earlier posts

Related posts of mine at Da Tech Guy

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