McCombs dealership Native American statue now at San Antonio-area high school

The head of a Native American group said he's frustrated a public institution is now displaying the statue.

click to enlarge The statue known at "The Chief" greeted customers at the San Antonio's McCombs Superior Hyundai dealership for decades. It was removed in July. - Samantha Serna
Samantha Serna
The statue known at "The Chief" greeted customers at the San Antonio's McCombs Superior Hyundai dealership for decades. It was removed in July.
A representative of a Native American group said he's frustrated a San Antonio-area school district is now displaying a statue of an Indigenous American man in a feathered headdress that was removed from a Red McCombs Automotive dealership last July.

The 26-foot-high fiberglass statue popularly known as "The Chief" greeted customers at the McCombs Superior Hyundai dealership for decades. When it was taken down last summer, McCombs officials said the figure no longer met Hyundai's marketing guidelines.

TV station KSAT now reports the statue has reappeared 50 miles south at Jourdanton High School, whose sports team names are the “Indians” and the “Squaws.”

Although Jourdanton ISD officials told KSAT they're excited "The Chief" now resides on the campus, Ramon Vasquez, executive director of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Mission, explained to the station that he's frustrated a public institution is displaying the figure.

“When we have a public institution like Jourdanton High School or Jourdanton Independent School District, we should be a little bit more thoughtful about what we’re trying to teach our children," Vasquez told KSAT. "You know, in regards about their history. And, this is not, you know, this is not responsible."

Vasquez added that the statue doesn't depict an Indigenous person from South Texas. He explained that the thinks it's an attempt to depict Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, who reside in the Great Lakes region. In a 2019 interview with the Express-News, Vasquez said he wished that the statue was more representative of a specific tribe rather than a "generic symbol" of Native Americans.

Jourdanton ISD confirmed the district was in possession of the statue in a Tuesday Facebook post, adding officials there understand the figure's "cultural importance."

“We acknowledge the significance of the Big Chief and its cultural importance, and we are committed to ensuring that it remains an integral part of our community for generations to come,” school officials wrote. “As Jourdanton Indians, we take pride in our history and heritage, and we look forward to how this will now be a part of our story.”

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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