Task Force to Weigh Possible Options for Balancing Hannah Duston Legacy in Haverhill

Haverhill Police and Department of Public Works assess vandalism damage to the Hannah Duston statue in GAR Park in late August, 2020. (WHAV News photograph.)

Options to augment the statue of Hannah Duston in Haverhill’s GAR Park include a bandshell mural, a statue of the signers of the original treaty between the Puritans and Native Americans or a collection of statues in a small parklet.

Haverhill’s Native American Commemorative Task Force was formed in the aftermath of last year’s heightened concerns about racism following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Task Force Chair Dan Speers said the committee now begins the “planning and eventual creation of an historical memorial that celebrates the history and heritage of the indigenous communities that lived, thrived and prospered in the pre-Columbian Merrimack Valley.”

“Our task is quite phenomenal. There is obviously the Hannah Duston statue, the plaque and all of the baggage that has both gone before and still remains. There are other issues and sentiments as well,” said Speers in a statement. He added, “however, our job is not to relitigate the issue of whether or not the statue stays in the park.” Speers explained neither the Buttonwoods Museum nor the historic Duston Garrison House on Hilldale Avenue will take the statue.

The new memorial would also depict accurate historical, perspectives on what transpired and happened to natives upon the arrival, disruption and colonization by Europeans and inspire this and coming generations, “that while we are correcting and recognizing the inequities, stresses and sacrifices of the past, we are using these to offer both reconciliation and inspiration.”

The online and in-person meeting takes place Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m., in Room 320 at Haverhill City Hall.

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