Mexico City just took a big step in recognizing the indigenous community after removing a statue of Christopher Columbus and announcing plans to replace it with that of an indigenous woman. This comes as many states in the U.S. including Hawaii and Alaska and 130 cities have opted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced on International Day of the Indigenous Woman (Sept.5) that the Columbus statue on the Paseo de la Reforma would be replaced with one honoring indigenous women. The statue was removed last October ahead of Columbus Day on Oct.12 (which many celebrate as “Dia de la Raza“) for restorations. The location of the statue was popular for indigenous protests fighting the European colonization of the indigenous communities. When the statue was removed, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said of Columbus’s arrival that “it is a date that is very controversial and lends itself to conflicting ideas and political conflicts.”
Mexican sculptor Pedro Reyes will design the new statue of an Olmec woman, El Universal reported. Olmecs are considered one of the oldest civilizations in Mesoamerica and lived in Veracruz and Tabasco. “It’s very important to dedicate a monument to indigenous women and to the Earth, because if anyone can teach us how to take care of this planet, it’s our native peoples, and that is precisely what we must learn again,” Reyes told the publication.
— Claudia Sheinbaum (@Claudiashein) September 5, 2021
The new statue, “Tlali,” might be ready near the date of Dia de la Raza this year, according to Sheinbaum. Tlalli, means earth in Nahuatl, and, according to Reyes, it will represent women, “we all come from the earth and we all return to it, and it is the land that should be in our mind. and not only in the past ”.
“Of course we recognize Columbus, but there are two visions: there is a vision of the discovery of America, the vision of Europe, because in Europe they discovered America, but here there were already millennial civilizations, and there is another vision from here, that it actually arrived a European to America. It was the meeting between two places and then the conquest came, ”Sheinbaum said.
The Monument to Christopher Columbus (Monumento a Colón) in Mexico City, Mexico.
The monument was dedicated in 1877, however, on 5 September 2021, it was announced that the statue would be replaced with a statue of an indigenous Olmec woman by sculptor Pedro Reyes. pic.twitter.com/0LZ4vo5EfD
— Buildings in the News (@BuildingsNews) September 7, 2021
“We owe it to them and we exist because of them,” Sheinbaum said of indigenous peoples. “It is the history of our country and our homeland. “The Columbus statue, which was donated tot he city, will be moved to a less prominent location in a small park in the Polanco neighborhood. Sheinbaum said it’s not an attempt to “erase history” but to deliver “social justice“.