ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A new state report is recommending that two historic State Capitol paintings be removed from the governor’s office.
The controversial paintings depict Native Americans in ways the report says are historically inaccurate and insensitive.
The century-old paintings in the governor’s reception room include images of Civil War battles and partially clothed Native Americans in historically inaccurate settings.
The report recommends removing the American Indian paintings to another part of the Capitol, but leaving the battle scenes intact.
“I personally think that given the objections of the tribal leaders that they should be removed,” said Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota’s two-term Democratic governor. “I am concerned that there will be nothing but Civil War art left in the room.”
Eleven of Minnesota’s 12 Indian tribes were consulted about the paintings — “Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.” Native American leaders consider the works insensitive.
Both paintings will likely be relocated to another room inside the Capitol.
“It was really not about moving it out of the Capitol,” said Rep. Diane Loeffler, (DFL-Minneapolis), who is a member of the State Capitol Preservation Commission. “It was moving it to a place where you can tell the complexity of the stories.”
The top-to-bottom overhaul of the State Capitol includes the repair and conservation of all of the artwork, including ceiling murals.
And it’s opening up 36,000 square feet of new space for new, permanent paintings. They would be the first inside the building since 1912.
“I would like to see updated stories of Minnesota,” Loeffler said, “stories that are engaging and tell Minnesotans a little bit about what their government does.”
Loeffler expects new paintings added to the renovated Capitol in the coming years. Among the suggestions from the public are works depicting women and the new immigrant populations.
A landscape painting was also suggested. Although Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the Capitol building has not a single landscape painting.