Indy councilor calls for removal of bust of Christopher Columbus from Statehouse lawn

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A century ago, the state of Indiana dedicated a bust to Christopher Columbus.

There were no parades or celebrations for Columbus in Indianapolis on Monday, which was Columbus Day, but some questions were raised on how much longer a bust of him will be on the Indiana Statehouse lawn.

On the southwest lawn of the Statehouse, a bust of Columbus sits about 10 feet in the air on a limestone pedestal. The plaque says Columbus discovered America on this date in 1492. According to news reports from the time of the installation, a group of Italian immigrants who lived in Indianapolis paid for the bust and pedestal.

“In my opinion, I think the state should look at removing the bust from the Statehouse lawn,” said Indianapolis City-County Councilor Jason Larrison on Monday.

The Democrat on Monday introduced a proclamation recognizing Monday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He made the announcement at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Larrison says the real story of Columbus is not the one many of people were taught in school. He says the bust is difficult for many native Americans to see on the lawn of the Statehouse.

“It is a challenge for the native people to continue to see that there, to be held up and know that individual caused so much trouble for their ancestors.”

In 1956, the Indianapolis Knights of Columbus paid to have the bronze bust refurbished. The Indianapolis K of C declined an invitation for an on-camera interview but sent a statement that says Columbus should still be celebrated for his incredible achievements and that the Knights of Columbus have fought for unity, equality and fair treatment for all regardless of race religion or creed.

Larrison is originally from Columbus Indiana, the town was named after the Italian explorer.

“The intend of a bust or a monument is to bring attention and elevate an individual, but I think, as time goes on, I think there are things that we don’t want to promote about Christopher Columbus. I think removing the bust would be a good first step.”

Larrison does not have any jurisdiction over this particular statute but suggests that people in the Statehouse take a hard look at where Columbus should spend the next 100 years.