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San Francisco To Remove 19th Century Statue Critics Say Degrades Native Americans

A statue of a Native American sitting below Sir Francis Drake and Father Junipero Serra in San Francisco.

The city of San Francisco is joining the cause of removing old statues that are out of step with contemporary political and cultural tastes.

The sculpture "Early Days" sits near San Francisco's City Hall. It depicts a Sir Francis Drake and Catholic missionary Junipero Serra standing over a sitting Native American.

The city's Arts Commission voted unanimously Monday to remove the statue, amid cheers from the audience. The move that had been discussed for decades, but it gained a new momentum late last year after the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va., prompted street demonstrations by supporters and opponents.

"It definitely feels like a long time coming," said Barbara Mumby as quoted by the Associated Press. Mumby is an arts commission employee who is descended from Native tribes in California and New York. "I think some people may not understand how big of a symbol it is to be able to take this down."

In February, the city's Historic Preservation Commission endorsed the statue's removal provided that it be replaced by a plaque with an explanation for the removal.

In January, the city's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, against the wishes of many in the local Italian-American community.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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