Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, has proposed removing depictions of Native Americans from New York’s State Capitol building in Albany. In her recent “State of the State” report, Hochul vowed to conduct a comprehensive review of all “artistic representations of Indigenous peoples in the Capitol”, adding that “Indigenous peoples, in particular, are often depicted in artworks in a manner that reflects harmful racial stereotypes and glorifies violence against Indigenous peoples. Such depictions do not reflect the values of New York State.”
The New York Times cites various examples of derogatory works including a mural outside Hochul’s executive office in the State Capitol showing the French explorer Samuel de Champlain victorious in combat with an accompanying caption: “Champlain Killing First Indian.” Another contentious work, a statue of the US army general Philip Sheridan, stands on the east side of the Capitol building; Sheridan is widely credited with coining the phrase “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”.
Hochul has subsequently invited representatives from each of New York’s nine federal and state-recognised tribes to join an advisory board that would review imagery in the Capitol building, according to Native News Online; the initiative will be led by Elizabeth Rule, an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Deputy Secretary for First Nations. Possible outcomes could include providing brochures or placards to contextualise existing works; Indigenous works could also go on show in spaces inside the Capitol, said a spokesperson for Hochul.