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Published: February 16, 2019

NCTC opposes proposed Roosevelt statue in San Luis Obispo

A model of Paula Zima’s Theodore Roosevelt statue proposed for Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo. COURTESY OF PIERRE RADEMAKER

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council is opposing the proposed Roosevelt statue, in Mitchell Park, in San Luis Obispo

Response to opinion article  by ARTS Obispo, in the TT. 020819

To the “Good People on Both Sides” we have heard you, and you should abandon this racist’s project.

To the committee working under the auspices of ARTS Obispo, STOP THIS CULTURAL GENOCIDE PROJECT.

To the “far more support” folks for a person who created Genocide for the First Peoples, “there are good people on both sides”.

To “reflect the values of our community” one must not create pain, sorrow, cultural genocide, in any community, especially in the Land of The Northern Chumash, the place of our community.

To “honor not just President Roosevelt, the conservation movement” that remove all First Peoples from National Parks so American tourists could enjoy it, was his edict, pain of removal from our homes for over 10,000 years, just imagine.

To honor a man who planted racism and genocide “deeply within the soul of our community etch with Roosevelt’s quotes”, of genocide, how on earth do people think this way?

To honor this man with a name “Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Legacy Grove” in our Northern Chumash Lands is one of the lowest ideas we have ever heard, a man of genocide, people should be ashamed.

To honor this man by speaking the truth is a horror story, not intended for children, and then think it is all right, the statue of a genocidal man would still be present, just unthinkable.

To include Bill Denneen or to even mention his name is blasphemy with this proposed project, he would dislike this very much.

To make a statement that “Local Native American leaders could and SHOULD be recognized as part of this legacy”, how far removed from First Nations reality is such a statement, we want to forget this monster.

To have our First Nations Children look at a statue of Mr. Roosevelt, in the beautiful Sacred Redwood trees, this monster ordered the cutting of hair for all Native Americans, so painful.

To make the statement that the use of this place would be for “working together to solve common problems” should start NOW, STOP this proposed project and STOP the CULTURAL GENOCIDE.

ARTS Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, is proposing a public art project that would commemorate President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to San Luis Obispo in 1903. Sculptor Paula Zima’s preliminary sketch shows Roosevelt seated on a boulder and dressed in casual clothing.
Paula Zima Courtesy of Arts Obispo


Seventeen years earlier, Roosevelt, then a young widower, left New York in favor of the Dakotas, where he built a ranch, rode horses and wrote about life on the frontier. When he returned to the east, he stated that “the most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.”


When Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901, he already had a long legacy of animosity toward American Indians. “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are,” Roosevelt said during a January 1886 speech in New York. “And I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

With regard to Indians, in 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt stated:

“In my judgment the time has arrived when we should definitely make up our minds to recognize the Indian as an individual and not as a member of a tribe. The General Allotment Act is a mighty pulverizing engine to break up the tribal mass.”

His Commission of Indian Affairs that all Indians cut off their long hair. According to Grinnell:  “Such an order was never before heard of in a free country, and the enforcement of it tends to make the Indians feel themselves to be slaves.”

As President. 1903:

In his book The Winning of the West, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote:

“The truth is, the Indians never had any real title to the soil.”

He compared Indian rights to the land with those of cattle ranchers trying to keep immigrants off their vast unfenced ranges.

As President. 1908:

In New York, President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated a monument to Captain John Underhill, the first professional Indian fighter in the northeast. In 1637, Underhill had been one of the leaders of the genocidal Pequot War. According to Roosevelt, Underhill was one of the men in Colonial times who “helped to lay the foundation of the nation that was to be.”

As President. 1909:

President Theodore Roosevelt issued eight proclamations which transferred 15 million acres of Indian timber on reservations created by Executive Order to adjacent national forests. The reservations included Fort Apache, Mescalero, Jicallilla, San Carlos, Zuni, Hoopa Valley, Tule River, and Navajo. The proclamation regarding the enlargement of the Trinity National Forest to include most of the Hoopa Reservation stated that after 25 years any un-allotted land on the reservation was to become a part of the national forest and the Hoopa were to lose their rights to this land.

Roosevelt’s seven and a half years in office were marked by his support of the Indian allotment system, the removal of Indians from their lands and the destruction of our culture. Although he earned a reputation as a conservationist—placing more than 230 million acres of land under public protection—Roosevelt systematically marginalized Indians, uprooting them from their homelands to create national parks and monuments, speaking publicly about his plans to assimilate them and using them as spectacles to build his political empire, cultural genocide.

There is no place in San Luis Obispo City or County for such cultural Genocide.

Fred Collins

Chairman – Northern Chumash Tribal Council

Northern Chumash Tribal Council: 
Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary: 
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