march, 2019

14mar5:30 pm7:00 pmMyth and Memory in Arizona’s Pioneer MonumentsArizona Heritage Center

Event Details

Spirit of the Frontier, Prescott, AZ courtesy Cynthia Culver Prescott

The recent removal and reinterpretation of Confederate monuments in the south sparked discussions across the U.S. How does a monument elevate a person or a cause? How do monuments change over time? In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, communities throughout the United States erected commemorative monuments to their white forefathers sculpted by prominent artists. Early monuments’ explicit depictions of white “civilization” and American Indian “savagery” soon gave way to iconic sunbonneted white women carrying white “civilization” westward, such as the Madonna of the Trail statues that the Daughters of the American Revolution erected in Springerville, Arizona, and eleven other states.  After World War II, pioneer family monuments celebrated the persistence of white settler communities, continuing the erasure of Indigenous peoples. Latter-day Saints were particularly active in commemorating early Mormon settlements in Arizona and across the country. Only in recent decades have some individuals begun to challenge the enshrinement of whiteness on the western landscape.

Join Cynthia Prescott, Associate Professor of history, University of North Dakota, to explore how pioneer monument design and public reception has changed over the past 125 years. Learn about the history of monuments erected in Arizona that sought to be more inclusive, but ultimately still celebrated white displacement of Native Americans and Spanish-speaking peoples.

This program is in collaboration with the School for Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.  

Cynthia Culver Prescott is associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019) and Gender and Generation on the Far Western Frontier (University of Arizona, 2007). Her website, Pioneer Monuments in the American West, features interactive maps and timelines featuring more than 200 monuments. Supported by a Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Seed Grant, she is using the GIS-enabled app Clio to create detailed historical entries and walking tours of 200 sites in the West, with an emphasis on controversial public monuments and shifting representations of race and gender.

FREE EVENT! RSVP via Eventbrite.


(Thursday) 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Arizona Heritage Center

1300 North College Ave

Arizona Historical Society