This story has been updated
One week after city officials said they'd need to remove one of Hillsboro's most recognizable art pieces after it was damaged by a winter storm, Chief Kno-Tah is gone.
Crews removed the statue early Thursday morning. The statue stood along Tualatin Valley Highway near the entrance to Shute Park, since 1986.
In a statement released last week, the city said the statue was so badly damaged by a winter storm earlier this year that it would need to be removed. No date was given for the statue's removal, but the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department said it would likely occur before the end of this month.
"Public safety is our top priority," Dave Miletich, director of Hillsboro's Parks & Recreation Department, said in the statement. "As much as we hoped the statue could be restored, it simply poses too much of a safety risk."
Miletich told the Tribune on Thursday that the statue was so badly rotted that it fell apart once crews pushed it over.
"It crumbled into several pieces, which we were able to clean up," he said.
A falling tree smashed into the statue in February, knocking it from its base and shearing off a chunk of the statue's forehead. The wooden sculpture has been decaying internally for years and was infested with carpenter ants, the city said.
Valeri Otani, the city's public art supervisor, said the decision to remove the statue was due to a handful of factors, including a statement from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde that the statue posed no cultural significance to tribal members. That, coupled with the damage and the cost of possible restoring the statue, led officials to remove it.
Orenco resident Dirk Knudsen, who has lead the charge to preserve the statue, told the Tribune earlier this week that legal action might be brought against the city against the city if it were removed. On Thursday, he said he was "very, very angered," by the situation.
"I've got to call everybody," Knudsen said. "People were talking to some lawyers yesterday."
Dirksen and others have questioned whether the city has the right to remove the statue, because artist Peter "Wolf" Toth donated it to "the people of Oregon." Miletich said the city is "very confident" that it had the authority to remove the statue.
"We've owned it for 30 years," he said Thursday.
City officials have said a plaque will be installed in the part with the statue's history, and Miletich said that the city will work with the public and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde on a new piece of public art, to bring more "culturally relevant art" to Hillsboro, but no details have been worked out about what that might look like, when it will be installed or whether it will stand on the same space at Shute Park.
"We'll be starting that process very soon," Miletich said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Dave Miletich, director of Hillsboro's Parks & Recreation Department.