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Small Gift, Big Challenge 

by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t appears the first person in Spokane to put up some money and urge the city to replace a statue of a tribal leader that was razed and removed last month from a park that bears his name is ... an 8-year-old.





"I got an envelope and I put my money in along with my letter," says Victoria Schauer, who attends third grade at Jefferson Elementary in south Spokane.





Victoria read the news last month that a statue of Garry, a Spokane tribal leader from the era of white settlement, had been removed from Chief Garry Park after being damaged by both the weather and vandals.





His statue is to be replaced with an abstract piece titled "Totem Ascension" that the city got for free when the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (the MAC) declared it surplus.





The statue swap -- seen as a budget saver by the cash-strapped city arts department and the Chief Garry Neighborhood Council -- is questioned as being insensitive by officials from the Spokane Tribe and other Native Americans around town.





David Govedare, who created Totem Ascension in 1983, tends to agree. "To my mind it seems only fitting that a work honoring Chief Garry would be an appropriate thing to do. Isn't the park named for him? I would see replacing it with something that has his spirit and his energy."





Govedare says a telephone call from The Inlander this week was the first time anybody's contacted him about the potential placement of his long-ago sculpture, and to seek his thoughts about replacing the Garry piece.





Even though city Arts Director Karen Mobley and the Chief Garry Neighborhood Council have been working for two years or longer to replace the damaged original, it was only when a Bobcat with a jackhammer bit chewed into the base of the seated Garry statue and toppled it on May 7 that the dust was kicked up, so to speak.





The finality of the statue's removal -- the rubble was loaded into a dump truck and hauled away to an inert materials dump known as "the pit" -- is what caught peoples' attention. People like Victoria Schauer.





"She said to me, 'This makes me mad. I'm going to tell someone in the government,'" says Victoria's mom, Mary.





The news hit her hard because Victoria, just days earlier, completed a paper on Garry as part of a class project on Spokane history.





Victoria sat down and wrote a letter, originally penned to Mayor Mary Verner, and read it aloud to her class last week before mailing it. Part of the letter reads:


"I thought that he (Garry) was a great inspiration for Spokane in the past and today. It makes me sad how he was treated and I think that we need to have a new and improved statue of him in his park and more mention of him throughout Spokane."





Victoria had $7 of allowance money saved up. She put $5 into the envelope along with her letter and mailed it off last week to City Hall with these final thoughts:


"I hope that the Mayor and others in Spokane can help us to not forget how Spokan Garry should be honored in our city. I will donate some of my allowance to the Spokane Arts fund and will ask others to please do the same thing."





"I think that's a call to a challenge ... a call we should rise to meet," says Jeanne Givens, a direct descendant of Garry. "I think Victoria Schauer is a selfless child. What a great girl."





The mayor was also impressed when told of Victoria's actions.





"That's wonderful," she says. The mayor says an effort to replace the Garry statue is underway.





"Things are moving - not as quickly as I would like, but they are moving," Verner says. "We have such a large amount of money to raise that I want to go about it in an organized way -- but of course the $5 donation is very much appreciated.





"And if $5 or $10 or $20 donations come in, we will go ahead and bank them, but to raise the over $100,000 -- or maybe even $150,000 - that we need, we want to be engaging folks who are experienced in fundraising and who have the network of contacts in both the art world and the business world," Verner says.





Verner and Mobley have met to start forming a committee to spearhead the Garry replacement effort. So far they have named Jamie Sijohn, the public relations director for the Spokane Tribe; Tina Wynecoop, a Spokane tribal member who is active in arts and cultural preservation efforts; and Givens.





Givens, a former Idaho legislator who now resides in Bellevue, is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Garry. Her ancestor, she says, lived in a tragic period where the indigenous culture was swamped by white influx. She notes with pride that Garry was among the children specially selected by local tribes to be sent to a Hudson's Bay post in Alberta in the 1820s to get a European education.





By the time whites arrived here, Garry spoke French and English and had an understanding of a culture not his own. He was an important force, Givens says, in helping whites and Indians adjust to each other without a lot of bloodshed.





And that's something worth remembering, she forcefully told The Inlander in an earlier interview on the importance of replacing the Garry statue.





[email protected]





Donations towards a permanent monument for Garry can be sent to the Spokane Arts Fund, c/o Spokane Arts Commission, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., 99201.
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