Councilors Say Haverhill’s Hannah Duston Statue Should Remain in GAR Park with Possible Changes

Hannah Duston monument at GAR Park, Haverhill.

After multiple meetings, discussions and hours of listening to public input, the Haverhill City Council decided last night the Hannah Duston statue in GAR Park, should remain where it is.

The statue has been a point of contention for more than a year because of what many consider to be a one-sided view of Haverhill’s history and for the use of the term “savages” to describe Native Americans.  City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan headed the Council’s Natural Resources and Public Properties Committee, entrusted with determining the statue’s fate. He said, while it was not a unanimous decision, the Committee came up with this recommendation.

“That the statue remain where it is in GAR Park and also that the city provide the Abenaki an opportunity to erect their own memorial, with the city to provide land and site work in GAR Park,” he said.

The proposal, which goes to Mayor James J. Fiorentini, also calls for replacing the objectionable language on the statue’s base. Councilors also agreed to send along other suggestions including the removal of the hatchet from Duston’s hand.

Sullivan also floated the idea of using the aging band shell in the park to create a historical mural of Haverhill’s history.

“Why can’t we have a two-sided mural? The band shell becomes a mural itself. We could put famous Haverhill Native Americans. I think we could take that structure and make it into something amazing,” he explained.

The Council approved the proposal by a unanimous vote.

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