A new head for a statue of Junípero Serra that was decapitated in Monterey in October—about two weeks after the Spanish missionary was canonized by Pope Francis over the protests of Natives who called him an oppressor—will cost $77,000, town officials have said.
Months later, neither the head nor the perpetrators have been located, reported Native News Online. The statue has looked out over Monterey Bay from Lower Presidio Park since being erected there in 1891 and is part of the history of Monterey, according to Monterey County Weekly.
The new head must be “cast, carved, and attached to the body with a steel bar,” as KSBW News described it.
A local preservation group, the Old Monterey Foundation, has been working to spruce up the park's pathways and other features and is trying to raise money for the repair, the Monterey County Weekly said.
It was the second vandalization of Junipero Serra statuary in the wake of the canonization, which drew heated controversy throughout Turtle Island, especially in California, because of his enslavement and abuse of American Indians.
Just four days after the September 23 canonization, another Serra statue and some gravesites were vandalized at his burial place, Mission Carmel. The statue was toppled, and paint was splashed around the cemetery, with “Saint of Genocide” written on a headstone.
Even though many American Indians vilified Serra and his canonization, some tribes in California saw the vandalism as a desecration of their own ancestors’ burial places. The Carmel desecration unsettled Louise Miranda Ramirez, tribal chairwoman of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation, whose ancestors are buried there.
The decapitated statue commemorated not only Serra but also the founding of Monterey, city officials told Monterey County Weekly in October. The statue overlooks Monterey Bay to mark the spot where Serra first landed on the coast in 1770.
"It's really unfortunate because Father Serra, aside from being a religious figure, was also the co-founder of Monterey," historian Dennis Copeland told Monterey County Weekly. "For whatever reason the person decided they had to attack this, they’re attacking public art and a part of our history."
Photo by Hotvlkuce Harjo
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