Amerinda Article in City Limits

Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee) filmmaker, founder and director of American Indian Artists Inc. (AMERINDA) on a recent October afternoon at her office in the East Village section of Manhattan.  PHOTO: Adi Talwar

NYC’s Native Groups Weigh in on the Columbus Controversy


After clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors over the Robert E. Lee statue erupted in Charlottesville, Va., other cities across the country began to evaluate their divisive public statues. In New York City, Mayor De Blasio vowed to create a commission that would review all “symbols of hate” and make recommendations for the complete removal or modification of a select few.

Missing from the current debate around city art, monuments and markers, however, is testimony from Native groups of people (those with origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America, including Central America and the Caribbean), who have been affected in real ways by the oppressive acts of the men shaped into bronze and stone.

There are important distinctions between those who are descended from the original peoples of different parts of the world—Columbus, for instance, committed atrocities against the Native people of Hispaniola, not the mainland North American tribes who suffered badly in later encounters with White explorers and settlers. Yet the struggle to attain full sovereignty, equality and basic human rights is shared by all Native peoples.

The founder of American Indian Artists Inc. (AMERINDA), the only multi-disciplinary arts organization of its kind in the United States that supports tribally-enrolled artists and members of sovereign Nations since 1987, Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee), weighs in on the statue controversy from a different angle…


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