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City working to remove Hiawatha statue from Riverside Park

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - On Monday, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat asked the city's Board of Park Commissioners to remove the Hiawatha statue from Riverside Park.

In his request, Kabat says the city is working with the family of the statue's creator, Anthony Zimmerhakl, who requested the return of the statue and move it out of the city. Kabat said they've been working with the family for the past two years to arrange the removal.

In his letter to the board, Kabat says, "It is time to give this statue back to the family as requested."

The letter said the family hasn't found a new home for the nearly 60 year old statue.

The mayor asked that until a new location is found, the statue come down and get stored at the city's Municipal Service Center.

According to the Mayor's Office, the Board of Park Commissioners has authority over the the parks. Part of the authority includes the removal of the statue from Riverside Park.

In his letter, Kabat says, “I understand there will be upset residents, but deep down each of us must know that it is time to retire the Hiawatha and return it to the Zimmerhakl family per their request. Let’s come together in solidarity to move all of La Crosse forward in a positive way.”

Kabat said he's open to working with other members of the community to find a way to developing a plan "that pays proper respect to our Ho Chunk and First Nation people and to artist Anthony Zimmerhakl."

Parks and Rec estimate the cost to remove the statue is around $13,000 - $15,000 mark.

Read the full letter below.

Kevin Millard

Kevin Millard-Social Media Digital Content Manager for WXOW.

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