UPDATE: Saint Charles withdraws from purchasing Charlottesville’s controversial statue


The Statue of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea before its removal in Charlottesville, VA

Ben Kaiser, News Editor

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Oct. 8 after Tuesday’s announcement

Saint Charles’ hope of obtaining a statue of explorers Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and their Shoshone guide, Sacagawea, from Virginia is facing uncertainty after a lack of funding and support.

Last month, Saint Charles proposed a bid for the removed statue that was once held in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mayor Dan Borgmeyer started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $50,000, instead of using tax dollar, to move the statue to Missouri. By the end of September, funding didn’t even reach $4,000.

Borgmeyer also reached out to the Osage Nation for support, who has a long historical connection to Missouri. They responded in a letter saying the city should reconsider purchasing a controversial statue that another city is trying to get rid of, and to commission a new statue instead.

The controversy surrounding the statue is that it displays a crouched Sacagawea in a cowering or “subservient” position next to the standing explorers, according to critics. Saint Charles is even considering adding a plaque to educate about her importance to Lewis and Clark’s historical travel to the Pacific.

“The city of St. Charles would be perpetuating an outdated view of Native American women by obtaining and displaying the Charlottesville statue,” Chairperson Norman Akers of the Osage Nation’s Traditional Cultural Advisors committee said in the letter.

“Our contention is, she was a tracker, she was a guide, she was an interpreter. She should be at the feet of Lewis and Clark pointing out the way west and the track they should follow, and things like that,” Borgmeyer said in the article. “By taking it down and hiding it away, you’re taking away the ability to learn things that happened in the past that could help with the future.”

The mayor said that the city has four intended locations for the statue, including the city’s convention center. He was enthusiastic in the effort for the statue in the beginning, but after September, is downplaying the city’s chances in claiming the statue.

“I don’t think we’re going to be a player for it,” Borgmeyer said. “To be honest with you, I took a position on it because I am totally against taking down statues and destroying history.”

The statue was taken down along with other controversial statues back in July, after the Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously for the removal. The other statues were of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Charlottesville began accepting proposals for its statue’s relocation last August.

Update: Due to low funds and much discussion, Mayor Borgmeyer officially announced his withdrawal from the campaign Tuesday, October 5.