Nebraska one step closer to replacing statues in National Statuary Hall

Nebraska state senators Tuesday backed a proposal to install statues of Willa Cather and Chief Standing Bear in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, sending the proposal to second-round debate on a 37-0 vote.

Driven by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr and Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, the bill (LB807) would replace existing statues of J. Sterling Morton and William Jennings Bryan first installed in the U.S. Capitol in 1937.

Congress established the National Statuary Hall in 1864, allowing each state to place two statues of figures that best tell their history among the collection.

In 2000, a mechanism allowing states to recall statues and replace them with new ones was added, opening the door for LB807 in the Legislature this year.

According to the bill, new sculptures of the Journal Star’s Nos. 1 and 2 most notable Nebraskans would be added to the hall at no cost to the state.

The Willa Cather Foundation in Red Cloud said it believes it could find supporters to pay to the commission a likeness of Nebraska’s pre-eminent author, according to executive director Ashley Olson.

The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs has secured an agreement with Donald Miller Campbell, who funded the Benjamin Victor sculpture of Standing Bear displayed on Centennial Mall in Lincoln, to pay for a second statue of the chief.