Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) commissioners, at their regular meeting Monday, Oct. 4, heard from Ricky D. Reyes during the Citizens to be Heard portion of the agenda regarding the sculptures (Steve Russell’s Cultural Interface) depicting the historic exchange between Europeans and Native Americans, that are planned for placement on ACND property.
“I’m Ricky D. Reyes, architect, artist, and Apache,” he said. “I humbly thank you for allowing us, the Indigenous People of the Coastal Bend Area, to come here, not to hate, your proposed statues, but to communicate and educate, that these statues are offensive to Native American people of the Coastal Bend.”
He said the three statues - Conquistador, Friar, and Pirate - are offensive and should be redesigned.
Reyes spoke from three points of view – from an artist perspective, as an architect on religious sculpture, and from a Native American perspective.
From an artist’s perspective, he noted Saddam Hussein’s statue represented his conquering and control of Iraq, and it was torn down after his downfall.
“On a positive note,” said Reyes, “President Lincoln’s statue at the National Mall represents the healing of the nation’s division caused by the American Civil War.”
He said South Dakota, in an attempt to attract tourism to that state, proposed Mount Rushmore National Memorial, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the nation. It is located within sacred Sioux Lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Reyes said the design was changed many times, and the original design was to have the faces of Native American chiefs.
“The point is, even though it was not completed on time, and had many design changes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to inspire a Nation during the Great Depression,” said Reyes.
Using his architect’s perspective of the Friar statue, Reyes said, “Many buildings are used to represent authority and control. The Catholic religion used basilicas in this manner.”
From his Native American point of view, Reyes pointed to the Pirate statue, noting Pirates have been downplayed and even “comicalized” thorough songs and movies.
“The truth is Pirates are known for pillage and plunder,” said Reyes. “The Pirate was, or rather is, the cheapest war weapon and it is being placed in front and center.”
He said rape was a war weapon.
“It is the cheapest and has the longest effects on the conquered”, leading to generational trauma, which Reyes says the three statues represent.
He closed his comments quoting Socrates.
“I cannot teach anyone anything, I can only make them think.”