© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'False stereotyping': Petition calls for removal of Rte. 2 statue depicting Indigenous man

A statue depicting a Native American man outside the Native and Himalayan Views shop in Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Alden Bourne
A statue depicting a Native American man outside the Native and Himalayan Views shop in Charlemont, Massachusetts.

A push is under way to get a giant statue depicting a Native American man in western Massachusetts taken down.

The statue rises above the roof of a souvenir store called Native and Himalayan Views in Charlemont along Route 2. It was previously called the Big Indian Gift Shop.

Tomantha Sylvester lives nearby and has gathered more than 1,000 signatures on an online petition calling for the structure to be removed.

"It deals with false stereotyping of Indigenous people and there are heavy repercussions that brings to both Native and non-Native communities," said Sylvester, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Sylvester said the figure was not made by Indigenous communities and comes from "a time when these types of images were used to mock us and they were used to degrade us and dehumanize us."

The store is owned by Sonam Lama and his wife.

Lama said he'd like to meet with those opposed to the statue and discuss possible changes including the skin color, clothing, and the object the man is holding, so that the figure looks like Lama, who is a stonemason from Tibet.

"I don't want to bother people so I want to change it," he said.

Sylvester said she's willing to meet with Lama. She said she'd also like to discuss some "problematic items" for sale in the shop.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content