Controversial Grant High murals in Portland to be removed
After years of debate, the superintendent of Portland Public Schools announced that controversial murals depicting Native Americans would be removed from the Grant High School theater.
The district is "beginning the process of removing and relocating the Fletcher murals from the Grant High School auditorium," PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said at a school board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 17.
He said the district would work with students and others to begin a "conceptual design for a new mural."
Some students and community members have long said the murals are hurtful to Native American and other students.
Many said the murals are offensive in their depiction of Native Americans and white colonizers together and the art does not belong in the school.
The Indigenous Peoples Student Union has urged PPS to remove the murals for several years.
Aanii Tate, president of the student group, said "the removal of the murals has been a long time coming." She asked the district to inform students of a starting date and an ending date for the removal of the murals.
The two huge, nearly 90-year-old murals have been covered by screens since Grant was recently remodeled.
The "Ideals of Education" paintings, created by Chicago-based artist Carl Hoeckner, were donated to the school by the Grant High School Alumni Association as a memorial dedication to William T. Fletcher, the first principal at Grant High. They've since been dubbed the Fletcher Murals.
The Grant High School Alumni Association had been raising money to restore the murals and some felt they were historically important and should remain on display.
The announcement that the murals would be replaced took place during National Native American Indian Heritage Month, which was recognized by the Portland Public Schools board earlier in Tuesday's meeting.
Scott Bailey a school board member and graduate of Grant High School, also applauded the move. "I'm so glad this is moving forward," he said.
Livi Buck, a senior at Grant and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said she is "thankful the process to remove these murals has begun."
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