What is a monument to massasoit doing in Kansas City? The memory work of monuments and place in public displays of history

Jean M. O'Brien, Lisa Blee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article explores questions surrounding the memory work of monuments and place by taking up a puzzling instance of public display of history: the presence of an enormous monument to the important seventeenth-century Pokanoket leader Massasoit in Kansas City, Missouri. Given the historical location of the Pokanoket in what came to be called New England, what are we to make of the erection of this monument, in fact a replica of the Plymouth monument designed by sculptor Cyrus Dallin in 1921, as a project of civic-minded non-Indians hundreds of miles away in 1979? Using archival and visual evidence, this article examines the unique portability and profitability of Massasoit as a symbol and narrative device. Rather than fixing history in place and expressing a sense of permanence on the landscape, Massasoit's presence in Kansas City reveals the malleability of memory and the mobility of memorials. We consider the ways in which monuments to Indians constitute a critical location for public history, place making, and memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-653
Number of pages19
JournalEthnohistory
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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