Island's colossal Native American
monument that wasn't
Condensed by Native Village
Taft opening the Ground for the
Memorial with an ancient Native
American tool at Fort Wadsworth.
York: It was supposed to tower
over Fort Wadsworth and be taller
and grander than the Statue of
Liberty. Congress agreed to
it. In 1913, President Taft broke
ground for it. But the National
Memorial to the North American
Indian was never built.
The project was nearly
forgotten until John Donohue learned
about it from the newspaper.
"It seemed that a major project
could come to Staten Island," said
Donohue, chairman of Eltingville Community Board Parks Committee.
Donohue has approached officials
about completing the memorial.
Researchers are now combing archives
and contacting historians and Indian
experts across the country to gather
memorial was the brainchild of
mega-wealthy Rodman Wanamaker.
It was designed by architect Thomas
Hastings and sculptor Daniel
Chester French. The bronze memorial
was to be 165 feet tall -- taller
than the Statue of
cost around $500,000. It would
feature an Indian standing on an
Aztec-like pyramid atop an
Egyptian Revival complex of museums,
galleries and libraries.
Lady Liberty, the memorial would loom
large over New York Harbor.
On Feb. 22, 1913, President Taft attended the
dedication ceremony. He used both a
shovel and an Indian ax-head made
from a buffalo bone to turn over the
dirt. The tool was believed to "have
been in use before Caesar crossed
the Rubicon," the New York Times
Also taking part were 32 chiefs of
Indian tribes including Chief Two Moons,
a Northern Cheyenne who fought at
Custer's Last Stand.
It was also the first day that the
Indian-head nickel was circulated.
Taft, Wanamaker and each chief got a
coin from the director of the U.S.
Mint. Nearly 100 of the brand new
nickels were handed out to the
At the time, people had expected Wanamaker
and his rich friends to pay for the
project. But Wanamaker never came up
with the funds, and the project was
dropped when World War I began. A
bronze plaque that marked the
site has been missing for around 40
"It seemed to just fall by the
wayside," said Donohue.
Tobacco (R-South Shore) is also
interested in reviving the project
despite, his concerns.
"We're not in
the best economic climate," he said.
"It's a tough sell."
Tobacco said he'd like to see a
simpler, scaled-down monument that
honors the American
Indian, highlights Taft's visit,
and acknowledges the old effort.
"A part of
Staten Island history would be alive
again," he said.
Village Home Page
Backgrounds: Robert Kaufman Fabrics:
NATIVE VILLAGE website was created
for youth, educators, families, and friends who wish to celebrate
the rich, diverse cultures of The Americas' First Peoples. We offer
readers two monthly publications: NATIVE VILLAGE Youth and Education
News and NATIVE VILLAGE Opportunities and Websites. Each issue
shares today's happenings in Indian country.
Native Village is responsible for format changes.
Articles may also include additional
photos, art, and graphics which enhance the visual appeal and and
adds new dimensions to the articles. Each is free or credited by right-clicking the picture, a page posting, or appears with the original article.
Our hopes are to make the news as
informative, educational, enjoyable as possible.
NATIVE VILLAGE also houses website libraries and learning
circles to enrich all lives on Turtle Island.
Please visit, and sign up for our update:
NativeVillage500@aol.com. We are always glad to make