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Research team proposes Marcus Whitman statue relocation

September 4, 2020 GMT

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — A local team of art researchers has proposed moving the Marcus Whitman statue from its current spot at the Whitman College campus to Fort Walla Walla Museum where the group says its true context can be shared.

“The statue tells us a lot and it has a rich and fascinating history, but again, that history is not the history of Marcus Whitman, it is not the history of the Walla Walla Valley and its not the history of Whitman College,” said Libby Miller director of Whitman College’s Maxey Museum and art history professor during a Walla Walla city Arts Commission meeting Wednesday.

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The statue, Miller and her team say, does not represent the historical figure, a medical missionary from the 1800s.

Instead, the representation appears more like a symbol of “frontier mythology,” commonly seen in television shows and artwork when the statue was created in the ’50s.

Marcus Whitman was not a trapper as the statue presents him to be, experts say.

The research team, with support from the president’s cabinet at Whitman College, was formed and funded by the school’s Engaged Learning and Research initiative to investigate the statue’s history and propose what to do with it at a time when numerous statues of historic figures have come under scrutiny.