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City still ponders the theme of third Central Square pedestal

By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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Three pedestals stand empty in the newly redeveloped Central Square. There’s some idea about what will adorn two of the downtown Auburn stands, but what the third will hold remains unclear. In March, the Auburn City Council approved the themes for the first two art pedestals as the Gold Rush and endurance, with elements of the American river to be incorporated into each art piece. The Streetscape History and Art Advisory Committee recommended the third statue represent the Maidu Indian tribe. Two local historians spoke out against this idea, saying images of a Maidu Indian next to a Gold Rush miner might be perceived as offensive by the Maidu people. Michael Otten, chairman of the historical society, said the miners in the area worked very hard to eliminate the Maidu people and before anything is decided the United Auburn Indian Community should been consulted. So the City Council sent the third pedestal back for more study. On Monday the committee recommended the third pedestal be given to the Arts Commission for artists’ interpretation of a theme. Councilman Keith Nesbitt also relayed a message from the United Auburn Indian Community who agreed the juxtaposition of a Maidu individual next to a miner would be inappropriate; they still want to be involved in Central Square. Douglas Elmets, spokesman for the United Auburn Indian Community, said the tribal members are very excited to be involved with the Streetscape process. "They expressed concern about the juxtaposition of the two, in part because Native American particularly Maidu were not treated well by miners,” Elmets said. "Long before the gold miners, long before the white man, members of the Maidu and Miwok were the first people who inhabited that territory." Elmets said members of the Indian community would prefer cultural art or artifacts to a figure. Nesbitt said the committee will come up with more ideas of themes to present to the City Council. If the council approves a theme the theme will go onto the Art Commission, which will put out a call for artists. “Personally I’m going to try to drive it back to the Native American theme,” Nesbitt said. “It’s really going to up to the committee.” Pekka Liemola owns the Palco frame and printing shop facing Central Square and sees the bare pedestals from his shop window every day. “I think it should still be the Indians and the miners and if they want a horse rider, that’s OK, too.” Liemola said. Melody Stone can be reached at melodys@goldcountrymedia.com