HOPE & HEALING for AMERICA
July 4, 2019 - Celebrate Freedom!
Center for Sacred Studies
Did you know there’s a Woman atop the Capitol Dome in Washington, DC? The statue — the image of FREEDOM — represents the Spiritual Consciousness of our Nation. Join us as, Katya Miller, historian and Fellow at the US Capitol Historical Society presents unknown history of America as a Woman. She will be joined by Kristen Farquhar, author and ‘one who works with healing sounds’ and ChoQosh, a Coastal Native American Elder and Wisdom Keeper. Let us begin to make things right.
Monthly Program @ Institute for Historical Study
December 2, 2018
Anniversary of lifting the Statue to the top of the Dome on December 2, 1863.
“Nineteen thousand pounds of the most misunderstood woman in America”—as the New York Times characterized the statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol—was the topic of new member Katya Miller’s presentation at the home of Nancy Zinn on December 2. It was the 155th birthday of Lady Freedom’s muted consecration in the middle of the Civil War. Katya’s planned book, “Beloved Freedom: Secret on the US Capitol Dome,” aims to reveal the history of her iconography and her creation by the American sculptor Thomas Crawford.
Crawford drew on European classical art and Native American imagery. Drapery folds echo the classical sculptures that Crawford studied in Rome; fur fringes on Freedom’s garment and her eagle headdress reflect Native culture. Katya’s research included not only documents and books in the Capitol Archives and Library of Congress, but also interviews with a number of Native authorities. Alice Papineau, the Onondaga clan mother, for example, taught her about matriarchy in Native culture. Other authorities taught her about the Onondaga Peace Tree, with its eagle on top. Peace is one theme in Lady Freedom, represented by a shield in her left hand; a sword in her right hand indicates protection from threats. European represen- tations of “America” as a native person, a staple of iconography from the time of exploration onward, also lie behind the final product.
Designs for the statue underwent three stages, beginning with Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace. Highlighting war was uncomfortable during a time of war, and the successor design—“Armed Liberty with a Liberty Cap”—merited rejection for that reason and also because the classical “liberty” or Phrygian cap originally denoted a freed slave—anathema to Jefferson Davis, one of the two commissioners of the statue. (Crawford did include a liberty cap in his frieze on the pediment of the Capitol.)
A specific Native emblem is the medallion reading “US” worn by Lady Freedom. It echoes peace medallions given by the Department of the Interior to Native leaders summoned to Washington. Katya noted the irony that during their visit the leaders also signed treaties disposing of their lands, treaties that they could not read.
“E pluribus unum,” inscribed on the statue’s pedestal, suggests more irony, reinforced by the fact that the statue was cast in bronze by a slave. The original plaster cast, restored at the instigation of a Native Hawai’ian woman, is now exhibited in the Capitol Visitors Center
– Carol Sicherman