Home>Articles>Capitol Groundbreaking for Native American Monument Replacing Father Serra Statue

California State Capitol. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Capitol Groundbreaking for Native American Monument Replacing Father Serra Statue

New monument is to replace one of Father Junipero Serra in park next to Capitol Building

By Evan Symon, November 15, 2022 4:43 pm

Ground was broken during a ceremony outside the State Capitol Building on Monday for a new Native American Monument that replaces the statue of Father Junipero Serra, which was removed in 2020.

The statue of Junipero Serra had been first erected n 1967 to honor the Catholic friar who helped establish over a dozen of California cities in the 1700’s. While there had been a few stray calls to replace that statue, as well as one of Christopher Columbus in the Capitol rotunda, due to their respective histories of violence and subjugation of native peoples, they had largely been ignored.

However, the issue was then seriously pressed in the summer of 2020. The George Floyd incident sparked massive protests, including calls to remove monuments of leaders with racist pasts and many protestors destroying statues and other monuments as a result. Not wanting these statues to meet the same fate as the statues of Father Serra that had been torn down and vandalized in Los Angeles and elsewhere, as well as acquiescing to demands that they at least be temporarily removed, both Sacramento statues were removed and taken into storage. However, this was not before the Serra statue was briefly toppled by protestors, adding to the urgency.

While the Columbus statue was outright removed despite calls for it to stay, the fate of the Serra statue was different. A bill, AB 338, was created the next year to replace the Serra statue with a Native American monument, largely due to the legalities of adding or removing things from Capitol grounds. While there was significant opposition to the bill, with many lawmakers abstaining in protest, the bill ultimately passed and was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

This led to Monday’s ceremony, where an image of the future statue of William Franklin Sr., a Miwok tribe member noted for working to preserve the tribe culture, was unveiled.  State and Tribal officials presiding over the ceremony remarked on the importance of the statue.

“For us, this monument is more than just correcting a moment in history,” said Regina Cuellar, chairwoman of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians on Monday. “It is my hope that this acknowledgement to California’s tribes will highlight the importance and further secure the inclusion of native voices in all matters of the state.”

Assemblyman James Ramos (D-Highland), a Native American legislator who had written AB 338, added that “I am acting as the voice of our ancestors that are still crying out from the grounds from the state of California. Once this new monument is completed, it will serve to remind students and all visitors to this historic Capitol Park that Native Americans lived on this land — and cared for it — long before California statehood and its preceding eras.”

While no one disagreed on putting the new statue up, many commentators noted on Tuesday that the fight is actually about the removal of Serra and other prominent Californians who helped build the state in the first place.

“No one has a problem with a statue honoring Indians,” said Luther Pollard, a researcher who has studied the removal of monuments in the U.S. in the 21st century, to the Globe on Tuesday. “What people have a problem with, whether it is removing a statue of Father Serra in California or taking down a statue of Teddy Roosevelt in New York, is the history of it all. Serra did do some unsavory things, but he did help establish California and founded numerous cities. To many people that’s important.

“There have been some victories for those wanting to keep them up, like keeping the Pete Wilson statue in San Diego, but Serra seems like it will be lost now. And no one is really entertaining the notion that it goes back.”

The Serra statue is currently in storage.

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5 thoughts on “Capitol Groundbreaking for Native American Monument Replacing Father Serra Statue

  1. Anybody Jess sick of the myth of the “peaceful Native American”? They were every bit as war like as my European ancestors and either way.. F the liberals. I was born in this state and am more native than about 1/3 the current population. At this point I hope Graham Hancock uncovers an giant ancient city of European settlers in California, line one from 50,000 yrs ago. Since everybody just makes up studies and back them with “peer reviewed” papers (I’m lookin at you Gender Studies PhDs)…I will just seek out the studies that back my political play, and then we can get Elon Musk to fund our “peer reviewed” studies. In fact.. why should I even believe all this genocide talk anyway if the same institutions that promote child castration hyped all the “indigenous” stuff in the past. Nope, new narrative: “Europeans first settled in the USA 50,000 years ago” and “The Europeans on arrival found a land of savages “. Screw it…I’m tired of people sh&&t talking my race.

    1. Anyone who tries to look for the true history of the California missions and Father Junipero Serra to put things into perspective will have a lot of trouble finding a true account. One of the problems is that the radical CA teachers’ unions changed the school curriculum over the years to reflect the lies that have been repeated here, in the article above, that emphasize “subjugation and racism.”
      I grew up in California and the mission history was covered in 4th grade. I believe it is still taught to 4th grade students but clearly not accurately. We painted murals, more recent generations built small models of the missions, a project that has since been removed. Now a leftist version of mission history is apparently being taught.
      As you know there is a leftist component in California that would like to erase true mission history. It has nothing to do with Native American tribes in CA getting their due attention and respect. That is achievable through reason and peaceful arguments, but we haven’t seen that. The opposition to the mission history and to St. Junipero Serra has been nasty and unreasoning, which reveals a leftist, anti-American root. We see that from, for instance, the many many reports of ugly, sickening vandalism at the missions over these many years and the tearing down of Serra monuments.
      The ultimate goal of this radical, anti-American, leftist crowd is to blot out our religious CA history, the Catholic missions. They can’t help themselves; when they see the Cross it BURNS and they want to destroy it. By any means necessary. Sickening, vile, obscene destruction of something precious and valuable in our state’s history. Many missions are still active churches; so valuable to outlying communities, some rural or semi-rural where the mission provides the only Catholic church. Shame, shame on those who want to destroy our California missions and continue to smear and lie about them and about St. Junipero Serra

  2. The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
    George Orwell

    Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
    George Orwell

    Figured these quotes hit the mark.

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