ST. LOUIS — A statue now viewed as controversial has been relocated by Saint Louis University after faculty and students complained that it symbolizes white supremacy.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the sculpture titled “Where the Rivers Meet” has been moved from outside a residence hall to inside the Saint Louis University Museum of Art.
The sculpture depicts Jesuit missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet on an elevated platform above two Native Americans while holding a cross above his head.
Last month, the school’s student-run newspaper published an op-ed stating the statue seems to say to Native Americans that they are not welcome unless they submit to a culture and religion.
“The statue of De Smet depicts a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism and of Christian and white supremacy,” wrote Ryan McKinley in an editorial for the school’s paper, The University News. “This statue of De Smet is the clearest message that this university sends regarding American Indians, past and present. This message to American Indians is simple: “You do not belong here if you do not submit to our culture and our religion.”
This is not the first time students or faculty complained about the statue, according to Fox News. The school’s first-year president Fred Pestello told students in March he was taking complaints seriously.
University spokesman Clayton Berry said the statue, which was created in the 1800s, will now be a part of the museum’s “Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions” where it can be put into historical context.