Today the Lewis and Clark statue is still very much alive in the public consciousness.
Since the 1970’s, the portrayal of the Native American figure Sacagawea has emerged as an
issue for concern. In the February 9 article written by Diana Shaw for the Charlottesville Daily Progress in 1975,
the little-known contributions of Sacagawea were enumerated to increase public awareness of her historical role.
By 1997, however, the publicity was much more critical,
and some claimed that the crouching and subordinate position of the Sacagawea figure was not only offensive to her
as a Native American, but also as a women. On November 21, 1997, the Women’s Center at UVa and the Committee for the
Empowerment of Young Women sponsored a rally to protest this depiction of Sacagawea, which made the front page of the Daily Progress.
However, it is doubtful that Keck intended the work to be in any way offensive when he created it, as he himself explains
“The guide Sacagawea is at their side, a little to the rear, so that she shall not compete too much in the composition with Lewis and Clark.
By making her look down I have tried to suggest that they were on a high prominence, and she was more interested in the immediate surroundings,
and not aware of what was in the minds of the explorers” (Alumni News v.8, 1921, 58).
Another indication that the Lewis and Clark statue is still significant in the Charlottesville community is the fact that in 1997, it (along with the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monuments) underwent a badly needed restoration, made possible only by the generous donation of $43,750 from Charlottesville resident Barbara Wright and other locals.