This week, calls for change nationwide are focusing new attention on statues and landmarks from our past. Across the country, and here in New York, many are facing new scrutiny, and in some cases, being removed. But historians and community members here in Plattsburgh have taken a different approach. An educational panel, unveiled this week at the Samuel de Champlain statue in the City of Plattsburgh, is the result of more than two years of research by a working group organized by Pastor Greg Huth, who consulted Native American leaders, teachers, and Champlain scholars to correct several of the statue’s historical inaccuracies, including that Champlain “discovered” the lake that now bears his name.
Champlain was a discoverer only from the European point of view, his native allies included the Huron, Algonquin, and Montagnais, who have lived in the region for more than 11,000 years, guided Champlain from Quebec to the shores of the lake. And none wore the Plains Indian headdress that is depicted on the Native American on the monument.
Early on, the group had decided that removing the statue was not an option.