The city of Helena, Montana had a fountain dedicated to Confederate soldiers. Located in Hill Park, the fountain was erected in 1916 by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and is considered to be the northernmost memorial to the Confederacy. On August 15 of this year, three days after the horrific events in Charlottesville, eight members of the American Indian Caucus of the Montana legislature asked the Helena City Council to remove the fountain. The council voted for removal on the 18th. The memorial fountain deserves discussion or interpretation regardless of its physical presence. Below are potential interpretive themes and points to ponder:
- Geographical Location. The land that comprised the Montana Territory was not opened until 1864 (statehood followed in 1889). The territory offered new beginnings to Southerners looking to escape war’s desolation. The Plains Indian Wars also brought about “southern and Confederate sympathizers” to the area.
- Inconspicuous Fountain. Compared to the other Confederate monuments and memorials, the fountain is rather plain and simplistic.
- Unsuccessful Compromise. In 2015, following the events in Charleston, locals and city officials decided to place interpretive text at the fountain. As of this past May, interpretative text was still being planned.
- Native American Perspective. Presents a new side and perspective to the monuments debate.
- Swiftness. The swiftness in which it was proposed, and removed, should be included in its potential interpretation.
- Future Unknown. As of August 21, the fountain’s new home, if any, is unknown. Should a text panel be placed beside its former site to denote what once was?
- The Independent Record’s coverage can be found here.