Fate of the John Mason Statue at State Capitol Is Still Up In The Air

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Connecticut’s Native American communities have been telling state officials they want the statue of Captain John Mason removed from the north side of the state Capitol. But for now, it will stay.

Tuesday, a commission made recommendations that still leave the fate of the statue up in the air.

“My recommendation would be that the Mason statue remains on the Capitol, but that a task force be created,” State Historian Walt Woodward said. 

Woodward says that a task force should develop an interpretation of the Mason statue as well as all the statuary around the Capitol.

Mason, one of the founders of Connecticut, led the infamous attack against the Eastern Pequots in Mystic in 1637, killing nearly 500 Native Americans and enslaving others.

“If the State Capitol is going to be as the builders intended -- a history book for the State of Connecticut -- perhaps our most important history book, then we should make sure that the history is clear, accurately contextualized, and meaningful,” Woodward said. 

Half of the 12 commission members agreed.

“Personally, I'm swayed by Dr. Woodward’s approach to teach and tell and learn the whole history here at the Capitol,” said Brian Flaherty, a commission member. 

Flaherty was one of the six who voted to keep the statue on the building.

“Continue to use the Capitol as a tool and teach it and tell the real story and tell the whole story perhaps for the first time,” he said. 

Sen. Cathy Osten has been advocating for years to remove it.

“I ask that people consider with all due respect that we remove John Mason finally from a glorified place as statues do not tell history. They glorify the people that we want to glorify. Now we glorify John Mason by having him on the Capitol,” Osten said.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe supports a plan to move the statue.

“We strongly urge action upon the first proposal offered by Sen. Osten -- to remove and relocate the Mason statue to Old State House with appropriate contextualization,” Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler said.

Woodward says the Pequot War was terrible.

“You cannot deny that mason burned the Mystic Fort and that it was a horrific thing to do,” Woodward said. 

Six of the 12 commission members voted to keep the statue on the building, educate and evaluate how statues get added, three voted to remove it, and three voted to do nothing.

“This story is much more complex than a good guys - bad guys interpretation,” Woodward said. 

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