La Crosse Times Year In Review – July
LA CROSSE, WIS — The mayor has requested the city honor artist Anthony Zimmerhakl family’s wishes and return the Hiawatha statue in Riverside Park for relocation to private family property outside the city. The question – until now – remained: what, if anything, would go in its place?
Tuesday, we learned that plans are being made to replace the statue with another whose artist says it’s meant to honor white culture and heritage: a giant statue of a white woman calling the cops on minorities.
“The statue I’ve designed perfectly encapsulates white culture,” artist Dreya Constantine said. “Does it represent all white people? No. But unlike Hiawatha, this is a depiction of a particular tribe of white people that actually does exist, seemingly everywhere.”
Constantine is mostly of Native American descent, but for a small portion of Caucasian lineage that she says she keeps close to her heart.
“I did a DNA test and I’m 1/64th white on my mom’s side,” she said. “So that is something I like to think about when I’m making art or to bring up in every single conversation with new people I meet.”
Many La Crosse residents are still adamantly opposed to the removal and potential replacement of Hiawatha, but Constantine is optimistic that minds will change.
“They’ll come around, I think. Give it time,” she added. “I’m excited for a time where people make plans to go on riverboat cruises and tell each other to meet ‘by the Big Karen’.”
Reporter Sam Shilts contributed to this article.