Whitman statues could come down

By on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 in Local News

MYCB photo of the Marcus Whitman statue in Walla Walla. Under the proposal, this replica would remain, but the originals in Olympia and Washington, D.C. would be taken down.

OLYMPIA, Washington – The Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections will hold a public hearing Wednesday on a bill to remove statues of Marcus Whitman in Olympia and in Washington, D.C.

Whitman was an American physician who led a party by wagon to the West in 1836 and founded a mission at present day Walla Walla.

Senate Bill 5237 states: “The legislature finds that under rigorous, objective review Marcus Whitman does not meet the standards of being one our state’s top honorees with a statue display in Olympia and statuary hall in the United States capitol.”

The bill goes on to state that “the legislature intends to create a work group to make recommendations regarding an appropriate replacement for the Marcus Whitman statue and provide the information needed to request that the joint committee of congress on the library approve the replacement of the statue of Marcus Whitman with a new statue.”

In 1953, the state of Washington donated a statue of him by the sculptor Avard Fairbanks to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol. An identical one stands at the edge of the campus of Whitman College in Walla Walla on the corner of East Main and Boyer streets.

The sponsors of the bill were senators Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), Rebecca Saldana (D-Seattle), Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), and Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah). The proposed legislation would establish a committee that would operate until November 2020 to determine what statues would replace Whitman’s image and create a plan for removing the statues.