Council to consider commission on West Main statue

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville City Council will discuss Monday whether to establish a commission to decide the fate of the Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea statue on West Main Street.

In May, the council approved a resolution to slightly move the statue to accommodate a new design plan for West Main. Now the council will decide whether the use that opportunity to remove the statue entirely.

City staff members are recommending the council launch a commission, similar to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces that convened in 2016 to help decide the fate of the city's Confederate statues.

Staff members estimate that the new commission would need $75,000 for "consultancy fees, meeting space rentals, advertisements and other related tasks for public involvement."

The committee would be required to make a recommendation about the fate of the statue within nine months. Those options could include removing the statue and selling it to another party, keeping the statue in place, or add more context to the statue.

The statue has been criticized for its depiction of Sacajawea, who is seen hunching behind Lewis and Clark. Kasey Keeler, the Native American studies postdoctoral fellow and instructor at UVA, said the statue downplays Sacajawea's role on the historic expedition to explore the western half of the United States.

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