The statue of Junipero Serra, an 18th century Catholic priest and missionary who was canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis had long been a flash point for Native American activists.
They argued that the priest was actually a brutal abuser who forced Catholic conversion on the indigenous population.
Now, a new statue has been erected in its place, this time honoring Native American heritage.
The statue of Serra, created in 1967 by the artist Maurice Loriaux, was one of many statues toppled by racial justice protesters during the summer of 2020, in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. The statue had long been a rallying cry for Native American activists, who widely view the Spanish missionary as a cruel colonizer.
For centuries, history taught of a gentle Franciscan monk who left the comforts of home to humbly spread the gospel in the dangerous and untamable west. But critics say that Serra’s missions only brought disease, violence, and forced religious conversions to California’s Native American population.
The new statue is of William J. Franklin Sr., of the Miwok tribe. Franklin Sr. was a renowned member of Sacramento’s indigenous community, well-known for his commitment to keeping the cultural dances and oral traditions of California’s Miwok population alive.
About the writer: Matthew Woodruff is an Independent Journalist and Author who believes in Freely Accessible, Honest and Open Reporting. Visit at matthewcwoodruff.com