26 August 2012

Vandalizing History

On a walk Friday, I visited Plante's Ferry Park in Spokane Valley, Washington. The park is located where the first "settler"* of present-day Spokane County established his home. Antoine Plante lived in the Spokane Valley c. 1849-1878, and then moved to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, where he died in 1890. A stone monument at the park claims than Plante settled there in 1849, but other sources place him in California at that time. He certainly was established in the Spokane Valley by 1852. His home was across the river from that of his brother-in-law, Camille Langtu.

There is an iron statue (by sculptor David Govedare) of Plante looking over the river where he operated a ferry with Langtu for perhaps two decades, 1852-1875 (Nisbet claims the ferry was constructed 1855--see reference below). The ferry was profitable as the principal route across the river c. 1855-1865.

In the park, there is an interpretive kiosk put together as a school project by students at Spokane Valley High School. Both the statue and the kiosk have been severely vandalized. The iron statue remains intact, but has disturbing paint. The kiosk has been shattered, now standing as a metaphor for the average American's knowledge of our national history.

A Metaphor?

*I cannot call him non-Indian because he was Metis--his ancestry was a mixture of French Canadian (father) and Blackfeet or Gros Ventres (mother). I call him a settler because he was unrelated to the Natives who lived along the Spokane River, and whose own ancestors had lived there for thousands of years. His series of marriages--none lasting long--to Indian women included several whose lands were between the Spokane area and the lands of the Blackfeet. The best online source of information concerning Plante is Jack Nisbet and Claire Nisbet, "Plante, Antoine (ca. 1812-1890)," HistoryLink 9606 (7 November 2010).

View from the south shore

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