Removed Cherokee Street statue to serve as learning tool at arts center

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – The removed statue that marked the Cherokee Street business district will be donated to the National Building Arts Center.

Thirty-six years after first appearing on Cherokee Street, the well-known Native American statue was removed Friday morning. The 21-foot statue commissioned to depict the native people with the same name is now gone in the blink of an eye.

The statue was commissioned in 1985 by the Cherokee Station Business Association to serve as a landmark for the street and its commercial district.

“I moved here 15 years ago and the topic of removing the statue was something everybody talked about all the time,” Apotheosis Comics Owner Martin Casas said.

“Had pros and cons about who wanted to keep it and who wanted it to go but there was always was this idea that its time has passed.”

Casas said this decision was a long time coming.

In a statement, the Cherokee Street Community Improvement District said, “The statue does not appropriately honor the indigenous communities that have called this land home.”

The decision to remove the statue was approved by a majority vote by community members at a Cherokee Street Community Improvement District public meeting.

The artist who created the statue also voted for the statue’s removal. The statue will now serve as a learning tool at the National Building Arts Center.

“If we’re going to erect another statue, it should be reflective of our values which are not colonialism, not genocide,” Button Makers Owner Becky Buttons said.

“If we want to celebrate Native American culture, as we should, we should enlist actual native Americans to do that.”

Some who visit the area often have mixed feelings.

“We got a lot of cool Instagram pictures with it,” local Zach Mash said. “It kind of sucks seeing it go away but I think it’s for a good benefit.”

The son of the neighboring business owner, Yayha Alshami, said although the statue was nostalgic, learning of the history swayed his opinion to support the removal.

“It’s very well-known and if anyone tries to describe Cherokee street or south side. I’m lucky to know what it is because of the statue.”

Now, it’s up to the community to decide what will define Cherokee Street next.

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