The Pioneer Monument in San Francisco’s Civic Center, photographed on Aug. 22, 2017 (Arash Malekzadeh/KQED)
Published May 29, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO — The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) has joined the call for community mobilization to remove racist imagery depicting the colonization of California known as the “Early Days Monument” currently located at 147 Fulton St, San Francisco, California.
“It’s time to debunk the myths about the valiant pioneers and listen to the voices of the original Peoples of this land calling for this and other symbols uplifting colonization to be removed,” stated Andrea Carmen, IITC Executive Director. “This monument glorifies the genocide of the Indigenous Peoples of California.”
Native American activist Barbara Mumby-Huerta, (Maidu, Powhatan, Shawnee) testified to the City of San Francisco Board of Appeals on April 18th saying that “this monument is a prime example of how propaganda, being allowed to exist in such a prominent location, can distort history and alter the way individuals are viewed – so much so that society has been brainwashed to revere the path foraged by these settlers despite how many lives were extinguished as a result.”
The Mission system and the Gold Rush devastated California Indigenous Peoples. Between 1846 -1870 the California Indian population fell from an estimated 150,000 to 31,000. Over 60 percent died from diseases introduced by San Francisco’s newly arrived “49ers” as the massive influx of settlers seeking gold and other resources were called. Others were victims of massacres, bounty hunters, enslavement and forced relocations.
Even today, the harsh legacies of the Gold Rush are still present as Northern California lands and waterways continue to be contaminated from the mercury used to extract gold ore. This toxic metal, which is now the subject of the United Nations “Minamata Convention”, was never cleaned up and continues to enter the environment and subsistence food chain, especially fish, resulting in devastating health and developmental outcomes on each new generation of California children.
Morning Star Gali, a member of the Pit River Tribe in Northern California and IITC’s community liaison coordinator states, “as the mother of 4 young children and a California Indian, truth in education and history is very important to me. The “Early Days Monument” distorts the brutal history of colonization and genocide in California. It’s just as offensive to California Indians as confederate monuments are to African Americans, and perpetuates the racism and intergenerational trauma that continues to affect us, and especially our children”.
The next full Board of Appeals meeting pertaining to this issue takes place June 13, 2018 at 5pm in Room 416 of San Francisco City Hall 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA. IITC requests testimony at the SF Board of Appeals to request a rehearing to remove the early days statue.