Some take issue with Henry Hudson statue

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Following a weekend filled with violence and bigotry in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month over the removal of Confederate statues, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Aug. 16 he would convene a task force to examine all statues in the city, marking specific ones that might be considered offensive or rooted in racism or bigotry. 

While it remains unclear exactly what will happen after the task force concludes its report, a few statues already have made their way into public debate, including a statue of Christopher Columbus at the center of Columbus Circle, and a statue of J. Marion Sims — a gynecologist known for operating on slave women without anesthesia because he claimed black women could not feel pain — in Central Park. 

But could one of those statues marked as “offensive” be right here in the Bronx?

Jennifer Scarlott, a local activist for Bronx Climate Justice North and the North Bronx Racial Justice Coalition, seems to think so. 

She pointed out a statue of Henry Hudson on the northern most side of Henry Hudson Memorial Park. 

“I have long been sort of awed by this massive statue of Henry Hudson in the park,” she said. “Sometimes at night when it is lit up, the dogs all bark at it because it looks like an actual man up in the sky.”

The monument to Hudson — the Dutch explorer who, while looking for the Northwest Passage, is credited as having entered upper New York Bay and sailed north up to Albany on a river that now bares his name — is massive. Although hidden by a mass of trees and hills in Spuyten Duyvil, the image of Hudson towers over most of them.

But it is not the image of Hudson atop the stone pillar that bothers Scarlott. Instead, it’s the engravings at eye-level, on the pillar’s base. 

On the northern side of the statue, Karl Greppe — the artist who fashioned the images of Hudson in the 1930s — placed an engraving with what Scarlott says is a rather shocking. It features a group of Native Americans, one of who is nearly naked and kneeling at the feet of Hudson, his arms full of gifts. 

“For a person like me who does work on racial justice issues … it is a jarring image,” Scarlott said. 

One major problem with the graven image is that no one really seems to know exactly what it is depicting. Lloyd Ultan of the Bronx Historical Society said it’s certainly an odd image, especially since Hudson never set foot in Manhattan or the Bronx. 

“He was looking for the Northwest Passage and he came down the East Coast of North America and then turned around and came north,” Ultan said. “There was a tremendous storm and he sought shelter in Spuyten Duyvil Creek. (The ship) wasn’t beached, but the water sort of tossed it around and it went aground twice.”

Although during his travels along what is now the Hudson River, Ultan said the explorer did stop off and trade with several Native American tribes for furs and other goods, which eventually became the reason the Dutch chose to settle on the land. 

Historians know very little about Hudson’s interactions with Native Americans, Ultan said. But for the most part, they were pleasant. 

Though some accounts say Hudson was untrusting of the natives and accused them of stealing, he twice found himself in armed combat against Native Americans — once near what is now Staten Island, and another near Albany. 

But regardless of what the engraving is meant to depict, Scarlott says for her part, she will try to raise awareness of the statue and let groups like North Bronx Racial Justice decide if they want to take action on them.

“I imagine that conceivably drawing the city’s attention to this statue or getting indigenous people’s opinion on it is the first step,” she said. “That seems like a good first step for there to at least finally have something be done.”

CORRECTION: The group that would decide whether it will take up a cause against the statue of Henry Hudson is North Bronx Racial Justice. A story in the Aug. 31 edition named a different group.

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TruthTeller

And meanwhile, in the real world, kids are getting poisoned by lead paint, people are dying in Houston, homeless families are increasing, the middle class is being eroded by insane tax policies etc, Obamacare is devastating people econimcally and wars are being unjustly waged, but this statue has somehow become an issue.

Riverdale Press, would you please stop with the false narrative of this statue issue already???!!!! And please stop giving a platform to this one individual whose personal hangups have nothing to do with the rest of us out there. Your headline should really read "One takes issue with statues" because that is the reality of the situation.

STOP IT ALREADT WITH THE FALSE NARRATIVE OF DIVISION!!!! YOU ALL LOST THE ELECTION...GET OVER IT!!!

Friday, September 1
TruthTeller

Oh, and I also found this line entertaining.....

"“Sometimes at night when it is lit up, the dogs all bark at it because it looks like an actual man up in the sky.”"

Get the eff outta here with this!! I've never once seen a dog look up, notice a man in the sky and start barking. It's a Bronze statue a hundred feet up in the air. No dog is looking up and noticing it in any way, shape or form. I live right near there too so I would tend to notice these things.

Friday, September 1
Democrap 4 life

What the libertards and democraps need to do is consult ISIS and EX Nazi's officers especially those that served in the Gestapo them to weed out what history books or statures are "offensive" to their type of mentality

Personally I hate the name of the Hudson River and it needs to be changed to the West river as we have the east river so it just is the right thing to do

Italians are pictured in movies as gangsters so anything to do with them needs to be renamed , Jewish lawyers called "Hitlers Jews" wrote the same laws Chuck Schmuer is using to disarm American citizens so the "Jews are responsible for the plight in Germany prior to W W 2

Black Friday is raciest as we do not have a white day,.

Black entertainment (BET) is a radical movement as there is No White entertainment awards

I have not seen any "White college fund " organizations WHY?

We have black history month (shortest month of the year) why not Caucasian decades as whites took starving blacks out of the jungles and gave then shelter and taught them a trade?

We have the Irish day parade where a bunch of randy drunks wave their flag and talk about how they are the best civil service workers as the play bag pipes

I can find more but I must go to work

Friday, September 1
TruthTeller

Not for nothing, but I would just like to say that although I defend Democrap4life's right to write and believe whatever he/she wants to, and I would never in a million years dream of censoring him, my views and his are separate and I don't subscribe to division, hatred, or any other negative impulse enumerated in his/her post.

My issue is with this Nazi/1984 esque campaign of erasing history. Also my issue is with the media for ginning up these false issues while the real crimes and injustices of the elite are allowed to happen with seemingly no scrutiny at all.

Friday, September 1
BrettKappock

I sincerely wish this individual's dedication to the "purification" of this park would be re-directed to ensure that the public can continue to use the park as intended. The homeless who bathe (half-naked) in its fountains, the fitness enthusiasts who use playground equipment as a personal gym, and citizens who allow their dogs off leash during times when such as activity is prohibited are of far more concern to the park-going public than an engraving. True social justice pioneers demand that public parks be available for all who may wish to properly use it, without fear of intimidation from those who have no desire to follow the rules and social norms of our society.

And a very large THANK YOU to the countless volunteers who use their sweat equity every weekend to maintain the park in all of its glory so that citizens may continue to enjoy it.

Friday, September 1
Jennifer Scarlott

To give some deeper context to the article above, written by Anthony Capote as a follow-up to my 8/25/17 letter to the editor which The Press titled "Remove Hate from New York City"... The national discussion that has been occurring for a long time now, (not just since Charlottesville), over the issue of statuary on public land that upholds people in our history who protected, promoted, or perpetrated genocide and slavery is an important one in our country's ongoing engagement with the endemic racism and white supremacy in both our past and present. I am glad that a NYC task force will explore whether to "remove symbols of hate" from the city, and hope they will rapidly conclude that the city must do so. This is not the same thing as "erasing history."

The bas-relief on the northern side of the enormous statue of Henry Hudson in the park in Spuyten Duyvil shows a Native American man kneeling at the feet of Henry Hudson, his arms full of furs that he is offering to Hudson. The arrival of the Dutch and English to the region led quite quickly to the theft of the land from the native people (the Lenape), the commandeering of their crops, slaughter, and diaspora -- in short, physical and cultural annihilation. The Bronx now has a higher population of Indigenous people than any other borough, a fact of which we should be proud. I cannot and don't speak for any native people living in the Bronx, New York City, or the region. But I believe their views and desires about the bas-relief on the Henry Hudson pedestal should be sought and acted upon.

All of the following is from "Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City" by Dr. Eric W. Sanderson (Abrams, 2009):

"Living in this land, [when Henry Hudson first arrived in 1609], were the Lenape -- the 'Ancient Ones' -- of northeast Algonquin culture, a people for whom the local landscape had provided all that they and their ancestors required for more than four hundred generations before Hudson arrived... Hudson's first mate, Robert Juet, kept a diary during the 1609 voyage. Here is what Juet wrote about the day they reached Mannahatta:

'The twelfth of September: Very faire and hot. In the after-noone at two of the clocke wee weighed, the winde being variable, between the North and the North-west. So we turned into the [now Hudson] River two leagues and Anchored. This morning at our first rode in the River, there came eight and twentie Canoes full of men, women and children to betray us: but we saw their intent, and suffered none of them to come aboord us. At twelve of the clocke they departed. They brought with them Oysters and Beanes, whereof we bought some.' (23-24)

The unpleasant history of Lenape-Dutch relations on Manhattan is described in Merwick (2006), as well as any standard history of the city--Burrows and Wallace (1999) is representative. Relations soured quickly after some confused and unsatisfactory trading with Hudson, who then kidnapped two Lenape individuals before departing upriver to find China. Having not made it to the Far East, on Hudson's return, his ship was attacked by Lenape from Mannahatta in October 1609. After the Dutch came permanently to settle in 1625, a variety of agreements were made, but these led to further misunderstandings on both sides, including regarding the exact nature by which Peter Minuit, Dutch governor-general, 'bought' Manhattan from the 'Indians.'

In 1638, a new Dutch governor-general, Willem van Kieft, arrive to replace the more accommodating Peter Minuit, who had at least paid something, and began demanding 'contributions' to protect the Lenape from their neighbors... one Tappan noted that Van Kieft 'must be a very mean fellow... To come to live in this country without being invited... and now wish to compel them to give him their corn for nothing' (Burrows and Wallace, 1999)... Violence erupted, leading to Van Kieft's War of 1642-1645. On February 25, 1642, Dutch soldiers under the governor-general's orders massacred groups of Lenape at Pavonia, just across the Hudson River from Mannahatta, and at Corlear's Hook, along the East River. David Pietersz de Vries wrote of how babies were 'torn from their mothers' breasts and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and the pieces thrown into the fire, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone.'

As a result, nearly all of the Lenape in the lower Hudson River region banded together to fight the Dutch, resulting in a number of sharp skirmishes and fierce reprisals... By the 1680s most of the Lenape had left Manhattan for the North or West. In coming decades they would lose all of their historical homeland in the East, emigrating to western Pennsylvania and then into the Ohio River valley, where they were known as the Delaware people. Through the 18th and early 19th centuries, relations were continuously tense through a series of battles, treaties, and reservations -- Weslager (1972) provides details of the long march west by a proud and angry people."

Friday, September 1
TruthTeller

And?

Friday, September 1
TruthTeller

"I cannot and don't speak for any native people living in the Bronx, New York City, or the region."

Actually that's exactly what you are doing. You've become the self-appointed policewoman for all things politically correct and quite frankly most of us are sick to death of it. If there is indeed a "national discussion" about this it was only in the pages of far-left college newspapers because I never heard of any mainstream discussion of this. And also, if Native Americans really gave a crap about Henry Hudson's statue, or any other statue for that matter, they would have been out there a long time ago protesting it. Rather, they are too busy dealing with the endemic problems that most marginalized people deal with.....alcoholism, poverty, drugs.....to give two craps about your latest pet issue for virtue signaling.

Friday, September 1
Michael Hinman

As has been stated before, comments here are a discussion of the subject, not the people. Personal attacks have no place here, and will be removed.

Thanks!

Friday, September 1
RiverdaleTheBronx

If only the city would spend half the energy they are spending on censorship and statue removal, and spending it instead on actually cleaning the parks of litter, preventing illegal barbecues, ticketing people for playing loud music, and enforcing park closing times, and the drug laws etc; but I suppose these are not of prime importance to their constituencies.

Saturday, September 2
Michael Hinman

Please do not post copyrighted material here. That will be removed, too.

Sunday, September 3
KateBB

A bas relief portraying a Lenape kneeling before Henry Hudson is not history, it's fantasy. Therefore, removing it would hardly be erasing history. Still, imho, the carving has artistic integrity and an alternate solution would be the addition of an informational plaque.

Symbols are meaningful and I feel it is a good thing to have these conversations. Political correctness isn't the issue. Compassion and respect for the full spectrum of the American experience--that's the issue. As has been well documented by now, most of those Lee statues in the south were erected during the early 20th Century as monuments to the Jim Crow culture. They are dispensable! In contrast, the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle was intended as a gift of gratitude from Italian Americans and as symbol of their immigrant pride. I'd hate to lose that one and I don't think we will. But let's have the conversation.

| Monday, September 4
Jennifer Scarlott

@KateBB: Are you an Indigenous person? My feeling is that Indigenous voices and desires should be strongly prioritized in the discussion about the future of statuary related to the history of native peoples' treatment by whites. The bas-relief of the Lenape man kneeling before Henry Hudson may be, as you say, "fantasy," but it is dangerous and hurtful fantasy. Are you aware of the history of Christopher Columbus vis-a-vis the Taino people and other Indigenous peoples? It is heinous and violent, involving enslavement and massacre. In my view, it is immaterial whether Columbus was Italian, Chinese, French, or Martian. Should a man who launched a genocide be considered a hero, by anyone, including his own descendents? I believe our moral evolution has to involve making reparations for past evil. Part of our evolution as ethical beings has to involve an ongoing evaluation of whom we, all people, choose to honor as heroes and why.

Monday, September 4
TruthTeller

In my opinion, it is very bourgeois attitude to assume the mantle of spokesperson for a community that has not, as far as I can tell, ever had an issue with these statues. Very classist and actually racist to assume your petty desires for "racial justice" matter one whit to a person suffering on a reservation somewhere dealing with intense social problems much closer to home than some random statue in a small Bronx neighborhood.

But we do agree on one thing, Columbus was/is not someone to particularly celebrate, mainly because he didn't discover anything. Anybody with an inquisitive mind can find out pretty easily that people have been coming to the shores of north and south America for thousands of years before Columbus. The Chinese sailed around the world in 1421 and the Celtic, Iberians and Africans thousands of years before them. The woods of the northeast are littered with evidence of those journies. It's just not taught in school, and I think if there is any sense of racial justice, it would be to include those peoples in the discussion of the history of America, not tear down and erase-1984 style-a small aspect of officlal history.

Tuesday, September 5
Jennifer Scarlott

Those unaware of the struggles of many Indigenous people across the U.S. to remove statues and other public symbols that degrade native peoples and uphold genocide and cultural annihilation, as well as efforts to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, are uninformed. Consider, too, what it says about your attitudes and awareness if you believe all Indigenous people in this country are struggling with poverty and substance problems on reservations. Recommended reading: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-indigenous-peoples-day-20170829-story.html

Tuesday, September 5
TruthTeller

Well, I just read that LAtimes article. It clearly is the story of one provincial extreme left-wing group in LA to change a day to Infigineous peoples day and the story of statues is reduced to one small paragraph that again is only dealing with LA. I was asking for evidence of a national conversation by Indians (I don't call them native because history shows this continent was peopled by humans from all over the planet going back tens of thousands of years) and you didn't provide it.

Anyhow, no I don't think all Indians suffer from the problems I enumerated. You came up with that from misinterpreting what I wrote. But for anybody to deny that Indians on reservations suffer disproportionally from all sorts of social problems is to deny reality. Are there rich and successful Indians? Yes! But there are also rich and successful black and hispanic people and/but that doesn't stop your group for calling for "justice" for the poor and disadvantaged and marginalized ones. I know your group is not big on nuance, being the classists and racists that you actually are, but learning how to parse words would be a great skill to add to your skill set.

Tuesday, September 5