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Oppositional memory practices: U.S. memorial spaces as arguments over public memory.

On a windswept hill in Wyoming, a cairn lamenting that "there were no survivors" now stands corrected by historical plaques recognizing 1,500 Indian survivors. On the high plains of eastern Montana, a sea of white marble tombstones now is interspersed with red granite warrior markers. In bustling Chicago, a tall, bronze police officer, removed from his original location, loses a century-long standoff with a nearby sculpture of Justice placing a wreath on a fallen laborer. The monuments that occupy sacred sites make arguments about who is worthy of mourning, honor, and remembrance. The monuments themselves endure, but their arguments often are controversial and judgments of worthiness have proven far less permanent.

In his influential work, The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade (1959) offered an understanding of the sacred that still resonates within scholarship of sacred space. The sacred, he wrote, "reveals absolute reality and at the same time makes orientation possible; hence it founds the world in the sense that it fixes the limits and establishes the order of the world" (p. 31). Nowhere are these functions more apparent than in sacred spaces: spaces set apart from their surroundings, ritually dedicated to the memory of a particular event, hero, or victim, and frequently adorned with enduring markers-often for those who lost their lives there--that offer seemingly eternal narratives of origin and orientation (Foote, 2003, p. 8). By enshrining particular narratives on a sacred site, monuments suggest what is worthy of remembrance at a site and solidify the history of a community. In so doing, they fix the limits and establish the boundaries of that community. Because of the perceived permanence of sacred sites, visitors often attach special significance to the civics lessons carved in stone and cast in bronze on the sites' monuments (Rosenzweig & Thelan, 2000, p. 105).

Although scholars have attended to the construction of narratives at memorial sites, and the conflicts that often accompany such constructions (e.g., Blair, Jeppeson, & Pucci, 1991; Gallagher, 1995; Gallagher & LaWare, 2010; Hubbard & Hasian, 1998), the question of how these narratives are argued for or against-particularly after a monument is dedicated-is under-theorized. In this essay, we explore how argumentation works at sacred sites, and how arguments about the past, once carved in stone and cast in bronze, may be countered. We suggest that attempts to stabilize memory in monumental form may be countered through several argumentative strategies, including dissection, transformation, and substitution. Each of these strategies destabilizes memory and opens up sacred spaces to alternative articulations of the past by expanding the lives deemed worthy of remembrance and grief. We believe that traditional understandings of refutation as linguistic negation (answering the claim "x" with the response "not x") cannot account for the unique strategies that excluded groups have used to argue at these sites. Recent work on visual argument has elaborated new modes of nondiscursive countering and we, in turn, extend these modes into three-dimensional experience by analyzing three highly-contested sacred spaces: Fetterman Battlefield, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and Haymarket Square.

These three sites invite comparison. Each was consecrated by the blood of the fallen, each was marked with a monument enshrining a particular narrative of its history, and each has been the site of sustained argument over who should be remembered. Therefore, each enables us to explore the visual argumentation of monuments, the functions of argument in sacred space, and the use of sacred space to expand communal boundaries. Although monuments compete at numerous other U.S. sites (e.g., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, Arthur Ashe in Richmond's Monument Avenue, Albuquerque's Cuarto Centenario Memorial), these three permit exploration of the relation between mourning and blood consecration, and of the ways in which visual argument may open, or close, consideration of who is human and worthy of remembrance.

Our guiding question is: How can the challenge of contested memories be reconciled with the promise of effective, enduring memorials that help to democratize public memory? Here, we follow Morris's (1997) distinction between cultural memory and public memory:

Whereas cultural memory reflects the particularized world view and ethos of the members of a particular culture, public memory is perhaps best conceived as an amalgam of the current hegemonic bloc's cultural memory and bits and pieces of cultural memory that members of other cultures are able to preserve and protect. The struggle to obtain and retain public memory being constant and constantly a signifier of the possibility of cultural transformation, significant shifts in the character of public memory thus point sharply to the actualities of such transformations, (p. 26)

By focusing on attempts to rebut specific arguments made by existing monuments, we uncover the possibilities of memory technologies designed to correct, expand upon, or contradict previous monuments. We reveal oppositional memory practices by demonstrating how public arguments, made on/with particular sacred spaces and in particular times, evolve.

Our examples of oppositional memory practices are drawn from sites of contested memories, fluid spaces in which diverse groups have sought to articulate differing perspectives on the past. Erection of an original monument can be understood as an attempt to stabilize memory, to issue a particular and authoritative narrative of the history of a space, and to explain what this history means. In the face of multiple articulations of the past, a monument literally carves some aspects of the past into stone or bronze while leaving out other aspects. As Blair, Dickinson, and Ott (2010) noted, "those statements that are uttered, those things that are actually made ... come to be seen as important, correct, normal and so forth. That renders their far more numerous unmaterialized counterparts as perhaps not so important, correct, or normal" (p. 4).

Monuments' attempts to stabilize particular histories, however, can be refuted in diverse ways, including: interpretive plaques that access counterhistories and punctuate a space with interruptions; subsequent counter-monuments (1) that "answer back" to the original; and even destruction and/or replacement. Our examples demonstrate that, often, monuments' arguments are answered by expanding the lives that count as grievable. This expansion of grievability is a powerful means to renegotiate public memories. Judith Butler (2004) asked: "Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? ... What makes for a grievable life?" (p. 20). In contemporary controversies over memorialization we find claims and counterclaims that answer Butler's questions differently, thereby opening a space in which public grief may be made more inclusive.


For most of its long history, argumentation has been ill-suited to our purpose because it has understood refutation exclusively as a discursive process of negation:

In the venerable tradition of reasoning begun by Aristotle, refutation is possible because certain propositions logically deny the truth of certain other propositions. Thus, statements of the form, "All A is B," are denied by "contrary" and "contradictory" statements of the form, "Some A is not B" and "No A is B." In short, refutation of opposing claims is possible because propositions may negate each other. (Lake & Pickering, 1998, p. 80)

Of course, argumentation is not reducible to formal logic. However, neither ancient nor modern approaches to rhetorical reasoning-including enthymematic, informal logic, narrative, and pragma-dialectical approaches- have repudiated this understanding. Whether it is explicit or tacit, and whether it tells a different story or maneuvers strategically in order to reach agreement, refutation is understood to be a discursive process ultimately made possible by propositional negation. Speech acts, after all, are speech acts.

Visual images, however, are not propositional and so cannot "employ the logic of negation upon which refutation traditionally relies" (Lake & Pickering, 1998, p. 80). Foundational here is Susanne Langer's (1957) distinction between discursive and presentational forms. Langer suggested there are forms of "articulate symbolism" other than the discursive. The discursive refers to language having a

form which requires us to string out our ideas even though their objects rest one within the other; as pieces of clothing that are actually worn one over the other have to be strung side by side on the clothesline. This property of verbal symbolism is known as discursiveness', by reason of it, only thoughts which can be arranged in this peculiar order can be spoken at all; any idea which does not lend itself to this "projection" is ineffable, incommunicable by means of words, (pp. 81-82)

In contrast, presentational symbolism is "a direct presentation of an individual object" (p. 96) that "widens our conception of rationality far beyond the traditional boundaries, yet never breaks faith with logic in the strictest sense" (p. 97). She explained, "The symbolic materials given to our senses, the Gestalten or fundamental perceptual forms which invite us to construe the pandemonium of sheer impression into a world of things and occasions, belong to the 'presentational' order" (p. 98). Like verbal symbolism, presentational symbolism "has its own characteristic development," moving from the single word/static image to complex vocabulary/successive images (p. 145). And just as language can create a title of titles, so can presentational symbolism "telescop[e]" many concepts into a single image, what psychoanalysts call condensation symbols (p. 191).

However, the distinction between the discursive and presentational "does not correspond to the difference between literal and artistic meanings. Many presentational symbols are merely proxy for discourse" in that they "express facts for discursive thinking and their content can be verbalized" while "[a]rtistic symbols ... are untranslatable ... It is always implicit, and cannot be explicated by any interpretation" (Langer, 1957, p. 260; see also Kauffman & Parson, 1990).

Within argumentation studies, Charles A. Willard argued that "arguments may be wholly or in part nonverbal" (1978, p. 189) and that "discursive symbols are not the sole or consistently the most fundamental mode of cognitive organization" (1981, p. 190). For Willard (1981), arguments, "consist both of discursive and nondiscursive symbols and ... both must be grappled with if we are to understand their meanings" (p. 194). Although by the nondiscursive Willard primarily meant gesture (p. 205), other forms have come to our attention.

Unlike language, which can be decoded via a semantic, images "do not present their constituents successively, but simultaneously, so the relations determining a visual structure are grasped in one act of vision" (Langer, 1957, p. 93). In such a gestalt, the meaning of constituents cannot be fixed and opposed to other possible constituents; blue cannot be said to be the opposite of green, or square the opposite of circular. Without such opposition, one image cannot negate another: "Where there is no exclusion of opposites, there is also, strictly speaking, no negative" (Langer, 1953, p. 242). And without negation, there can be no contradiction, or refutation. "Since presentational symbols have no negatives," Langer (1957) wrote, "there is no operation whereby their truth-value is reversed, no contradiction" (p. 262). On the contrary, presentational forms may "fuse even two contradictory affects in one expression" (Langer, 1953, p. 142). Others have made similar points (e.g., Barthes, 1978, p. 17; Burke, 1966, pp. 9, 428-431; Condit, 1990, p. 85).

So dominant has been the discursive framework that many argumentation scholars initially concluded, from their inability to negate, that visual images could not argue (Fleming, 1996). However, consistent with a broader acceptance of nonpropositional theories of argument (e.g., Brockriede, 1975; Conley, 1985; Fisher, 1987; Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969; Rasmussen, 1994; Willard, 1976), an explosion of scholarship in visual argument over the past twenty years (important elements of which have appeared in special issues of this journal) has altered the field, and it is now widely, although not universally, accepted that images can and do argue.

Whether images can refute one another remains more controversial and under-theorized. In two highly influential essays, Birdsell and Groarke (1996, 2007) emphasized the importance of context in recognizing and understanding visual arguments. "Context," they wrote, "can help us recognize an image as argumentative; identify its iconic, indexical, metaphoric, and other functions; and understand its enthymematic cuing" (Birdsell & Groarke, 1996, p. 112). More recent scholarship suggests that context--particularly the background context that Birdsell and Groarke called "visual culture"-also helps people recognize visual refutation. For example, Roberts (2007) examined folk art as visual argument, and showed how cultural context enabled people to see Blackfeet beadwork as a refutation of colonialist claims:

When the triangle as symbol of the lodge was suppressed, Blackfeet folk artists "argued" through their beadwork in two clear ways. First, they refused to adopt fully the floral designs of another, more powerful culture. Second, by continuing to employ the motif of the triangle, they utilized argument's ability to negate: Their beaded flowers were more triangular, less flowery. Their choice of design could imply what the design was not because of the intercultural context in which these choices were made. (p. 161)

Similarly, Pineda and Sowards (2007) examined the widespread immigration demonstrations of 2006 as a sequence of argument and counterargument in which foreign and U.S. flags signified multiple and competing claims about citizenship, depending on cultural context. Finally, examination of the dialectic between Christian icthus and Darwin fish icons commonly seen on automobiles led Ommen (2005) to suggest that "visual culture can offer the contextualizing linearity to visual images" that justifies us in reading one as refuting the other (p. 497).

Such emphasis on context is undeniably justified. If, lacking a semantic, presentational forms cannot intrinsically negate one another, then extrinsic considerations-context-are required in order to see them in opposition. For example, as presentational forms, "God Bless America" and "This Land is Your Land" are simply two intrinsically different works of musical art (possibly-if their lyrics are interpreted didactically-on the same theme). Only through context (historical in this case) can we recognize that--and how-Woody Guthrie's song refutes Irving Berlin's.

Still, context and visual culture cover a lot of territory. We believe that it is both possible and desirable to specify the different ways in which refutation can unfold contextually. Thus, we follow Randall Lake and Barbara Pickering (1998), who provided a framework for understanding how visual arguments can "refute one another even though they do not, strictly speaking, negate one another":

(1) through dissection, in which an image is "broken down" discursively, its component parts named and its relations analyzed, thereby opening the image to refutation via traditional (discursive) argumentative means; (2) through substitution, in which one image is replaced within a larger visual frame by a different image with an opposing polarity; and (3) through transformation, in which an image is recontextualized in a new visual frame, such that its polarity is modified or reversed through association with different images, (pp. 81-82)

In Birdsell and Groarke's terms, dissection is one way in which immediate verbal context generates refutation, substitution and transformation are processes of the immediate visual context, and the resources of visual culture background all three.

We extend Lake and Pickering's framework to monumental argumentation. This extension seems warranted given that three-dimensional spaces are experienced heavily, if not primarily, through vision; at the same time, potential or actual additional modes of experience afford the opportunity to expand and revise their framework. We posit that the arguments enshrined in a monument can be rebutted without being negated. These oppositional memory practices thus can be analyzed as types of "visual plus," multimodal arguments. Words certainly play a central role in the presentation and interpretation of monuments and memorials, if only in the form of names of the fallen. Monuments' visual elements, however, shape how these words are read. For example, names on tombstones are read as inducements to grief while names on heroic monuments are calls to emulation. Similarly, visible changes in or additions to monument sites can alter how the original monument's argument is interpreted.

We are mindful here of recent scholarship that distinguishes between an artifact's symbolicity/representationality (what it means) and its materiality (what it does) (e.g., Blair, 1999; LaWare & Gallagher, 2007; Zagacki & Gallagher, 2009). Because monuments typically are material, discursive, and visual, analysis of both the symbolic and the material is vital. By examining the ways that monuments can counter and be countered, we unpack what they do and enact on both symbolic and material levels. However, we do not explore the distinction between the materiality and symbolicity of monuments in detail because we are more interested in the countering than in the monument.

In summary, because negation is not a prerequisite for oppositional argumentation, the notion of visual oppositional argumentation is not oxymoronic. The principle of refutation does not require negation, only, more broadly, answerability. Certainly, refutation by negation is common in discursive argument; nonetheless, presentational arguments also can be refuted-answered-visually. Lake and Pickering showed how this was possible in the case of pictorial arguments (i.e., two-dimensional presentational forms that are encountered visually and, perhaps, audibly). In the remainder of this essay, we demonstrate how visual oppositional arguments can work in the case of sculptural and architectural arguments (i.e., three-dimensional presentational forms that are experienced by the whole body). We apply Lake and Pickering's three modes of presentational refutation to three memorial sites, and show how: (1) interpretive plaques at the Fetterman Battlefield dissect its message; (2) the addition of an Indian Memorial transforms the 7th Cavalry Memorial and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument; and (3) destructive actions against the Haymarket Police Memorial constitute substitution. In each case, the objective of refutation is to answer the previous memorial's restrictive claim concerning what constitutes a grievable life by remembering and memorializing previously excluded human lives.


The Fetterman Battlefield monument is located on a hilltop at the end of State Highway 344, a road that once passed between Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming. It marks the place where Captain William J. Fetterman led a detachment of eighty men to their deaths on December 21, 1866. The site is windswept, with rolling hills to the north, rattlesnake-infested red hills to the east, the Bozeman Trail's old Fort Phil Kearny three miles to the south, and the Big Horn Mountains to the west. This battle is one of two in U.S. military history in which an entire command was killed; Little Bighorn was the other (Andrist, 2001, pp. 122-123). Oppositional memory practices at both sites stem from Indian2 efforts to create a presence in U.S. public memory (Little Eagle, 1991), a goal present in much Indian protest (Lake, 1983, 1991; Sanchez & Stuckey, 2000; Smith & Warrior, 1996). The late 1980s and early 1990s in particular saw significant Indian memory work in response to the Columbian Quincentenary (Barreiro, 1990; Gonzales 1992). Although not well known, this site provides an interesting case through which to examine the material supports and infrastructure (Blair, Dickinson, & Ott, 2010, p. 10) of memory, including both monuments and interpretive plaques. The Fetterman memory site, like most memorials and monuments, is multimodal. Visitors experience it visually, verbally, tactilely, and aurally. Thus, dissection occurs multimodally as well.

Indians always have described this incident as a "battle" (specifically, the Battle of 100-In-The-Hands; Wolf Feathers, 1988). Euramerican accounts in the immediate aftermath, however, framed it as a "massacre" (Carrington, 2004; "The Indian," 1867), and this term stuck. Maps still refer to "Massacre Hill Monument" [Wyoming Atlas, 2001) and GPS systems refer to the "Fetterman Massacre Monument," even though official state road signs point to the "Fetterman Battlefield Monument." This process of name change signals the first moment of countering, where an expansion of humanity to include Indians in public memory becomes evident. The process is incomplete because the site remains named (solely) for the dead Captain. But the partial changes are an improvement because a massacre occurs when a group of people is killed indiscriminately; a massacre between two warring armies is impossible. As historian Ralph K. Andrist (2001) pointed out, "[The Fetterman battle] was no massacre, it was a battle in which the military had been outwitted and hopelessly outnumbered" (pp. 122-123). The appellation (and reconsideration of) massacre reconfigures the process of mourning. If this was a massacre, then the loss of the soldiers' lives merits special sorrow; grief not just for loss but for unjustifiable loss of the murdered. If this was a field of battle, however, then the soldiers were killed doing their jobs, and the warriors were killed doing theirs as well. This argument, about whose lives should be recognized and what kind of recognition is deserved, is encountered as one experiences the site.

A monumental rock cairn was erected in July 1905 as a result of efforts by the Fort Phil Kearney Association, Elisha J. Terrill, and Representative Frank W. Mondell. Constructed by E. C. Williams, the cairn was dedicated on July 4,1908. The shield on the monument reads: "On this field on the 21st day of December, 1866, three commissioned officers and seventy six privates of the 18th U.S. infantry, and of the 2nd U.S. cavalry, and four civilians, under the command of Captain Brevet-lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman were killed by an overwhelming force of Sioux, under the command of Red Cloud. There were no survivors."

Informational signs erected in 1965 by the Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department and the Wyoming State Historical Society echoed the shield's conclusion that there were "no survivors." Permaloy plaques created in the 1970s but never erected (stored at the Markers and Monuments maintenance shop at Guernsey State Park) did note: "Indian spokesmen later acknowledged the loss of thirteen warriors" (Jording, 1992, pp. 165, 167). A particular history of a place had calcified.

This original memory of the soldiers delimited memorial practices into the 1960s. Since then, however, memory has been opened up by acts of countering, and by one act in particular. In 1989, someone spray-painted "racist" across the shield on the cairn. According to Sonny Reisch, site curator, this incident was "one of our inspirations to put some other interpretation up there," especially given how the "no survivors" phrase "grates on all our nerves" (personal interview, July 13, 2010, notes on file with Palczewski).

As a result of combined efforts by Wyoming state departments and local citizens, new interpretive plaques were added in 1992, both at the cairn and on a mile-long loop around the battlefield. Elements of the original monument persist. The Fetterman Battlefield monument marks where people died, and in a manner (a rock cairn) commonly used in the West to mark graves. The place is still quiet, still desolate, and still off the beaten path. The Fetterman site is twenty or so miles from Sheridan, Wyoming, on a road that slid off the side of the mountain; it is not prominently marked by signage along Interstate 90. In a very real sense, therefore, it is a pilgrimage site given that visitation demands intent; one is not likely to stumble upon it by accident.

It is still a sacred space, consecrated by blood, separate from the "surrounding secular space" (Linenthal, 1991, p. 5) of pastureland, with signs designating where the public land ends and private land begins. As they dissect the rock cairn's monolithic memory, however, these new interpretive plaques pose a new question: Who counts?

An adjacent plaque dissects the cairn's verbal content and counters its univocal description of events: "There are however, several inaccuracies in the legend and some of the language reflects the racial feelings of the times. Historical records show that only two civilians were killed ... Current scholars also question whether Red Cloud led or was even at the battle. Indian oral histories do not mention his presence ..." Finally, directly refuting the shield's declaration that there were "no survivors," this plaque explains: "it obviously refers only to U.S. military casualties since approximately 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne did in fact survive." With this simple move, in which the original shield's claim is dissected, exposing an absence, the monument preserves sacred space but expands it to include the presence of Indians. Although the bronze shield has not changed, the monument space as a whole has changed insofar as the interpretive plaque counters the absence embedded in the cairn's shield. In like fashion, plaques throughout the battlefield's interpretive trail functionally bisect the cairn's unitary interpretation and presence. These plaques reopen memory by dissecting the original monument's memory lapses. They make clear that history, and its markers, are not fixed in time but are open to contestation, to rereading across time. They place Indians in the sacred space.

Religious studies scholar Edward Tabor Linenthal (1991), in his study of Sacred Ground, noted that

battlesites are civil spaces where Americans of various ideological persuasions come, not always reverently, to compete for the ownership of powerful national stories and to argue about the nature of heroism, the meaning of war, the efficacy of martial sacrifice, and the significance of preserving the patriotic landscape of the nation, (p. 1)

At the heart of controversies over heroism, war, sacrifice, and patriotism beat the questions: Who counts as human? Whose sacrifice is heroic? Which casualities of war deserve mourning? And, must patriotism deny nationality, even humanity, to others? In the United States,"[b]y and large, patriotic space is sacred space ..." (Johnston, 2001, para. 7) and memorials, in particular, are "fundamentally rhetorical sacred symbols" (Morris, 1997, p. 28). When located on battlefields, this sense of the sacred is intensified because the site is consecrated by the blood of the fallen. Even though battlefields are preserved ostensibly for their historic importance, the process of preservation often turns to commemoration and veneration (Utley, 1991, p. x).

The plaques added to the Fetterman monument do not forsake sacred space, nor do they constitute or invite desecration; in fact, they are a constructive response to a previous, arguably desecratory act (spray-painting). Interestingly, curator Reisch's reaction to the spray-painting was quite different from his reaction to the theft, in July 2008, of a bronze eagle from the shield. Reisch described the theft as vandalism, but the spray-painting as a call deserving of a response, not an erasure. The interpretive plaques' form of answer to the monument's original argument does not destroy the site or reject its status as "sacred ground." Instead, it dissects this ground in order to extend sacrality to all the dead, both U.S. military and Indian warriors. As the interpretive plaque at the cairn aptly concludes: "Today, this monument still honors the battlefield dead, but it should be remembered that members of two cultures died here, both fighting for their nations."

Despite the progress that this answer represents, two problems arise. First, remembering "two cultures" treats Indians as a single monolithic culture, even though Lakota (Sioux), Hinono'eino' (Arapaho) and Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) warriors all fought in this battle. Second, remembering only the heroic overlooks a lively debate among historians about the role of the Army's tactical blunders in the battle's outcome. Scholarly debates over military tactics are worth noting, especially because the site is named for Fetterman. Unlike Custer, who was held up as a hero and martyr, however, Fetterman long was blamed for the "massacre." Histories of the event that relied heavily on a biography by Francis Grummond (wife of a slain soldier and, later, second wife of fort commander Col. Henry B. Carrington) laid full blame at Fetterman's feet. Only very recently has this interpretation been questioned. In Give Me Eighty Men, Shannon Smith (2008) argued that Fetterman began to respect the might of the Indian warriors. After the fight, superiors placed the blame on Carrington and suppressed exonerating evidence. In response, Carrington's two wives came to his defense by shifting the blame to Fetterman, and this version stuck because chivalrous Victorian men were reluctant to question the women's moral authority. However, at the time of the interpretive plaques' placement, historians still blamed Fetterman for ignoring orders. An answer that elevates Indians to the lofty plane of military heroism is, perhaps, more palatable than one that lowers soldiers from it.

From the monument, one can walk a mile-long trail that traverses half of the battlefield. Visitors' bodies travel through the space of memory, dissecting it by placing themselves in the sacred space, on the sacred ground. Thirty additional interpretive plaques are located along this trail, informing readers about the battle and its participants. These plaques further expand the human and open the claim that "there were no survivors" to further examination. A grouping of four plaques at the trail's beginning makes clear that both sides incurred losses: "Fort Phil Kearny had lost 81 men. Indian oral history indicates that their casualties were 20 or more." Other plaques along the trail also acknowledge both sides, describing "The Combatants," including "Soldiers," "Warriors," "Cavalryman," "Infantryman," and "Plains Indian." Two combatants are remembered with their own plaques: Big Nose, a Cheyenne member of the decoy party that drew the U.S. troops into a trap, and Corporal Adolf Metzger, a soldier honored by the Indians for his bravery in battle.

Interestingly, whether describing soldiers or warriors, these plaques address visitors directly, in the second person, placing "you" in the midst of the battle as both soldier and warrior. Not only memorial space but also time is opened up, thereby inserting visitors into the space and time of events. For example:

* During Your Advance ... you are joined by 27 more soldiers of Company C ...

* As a Cavalryman ... you dress lightly because the weather is clear.

* As the Attack Continues ... You are formed in a skirmish line ...

* Big Nose ... is with you.... You recognize his bravery as a decoy ...

* Corporal Adolf Metzger ... like you, will die today.

* At the Break of Dawn ... you and fellow warriors prepare for battle.

* You Pursue ... the soldiers from Peno Creek....

* In the End ... the soldiers are surrounded and defeated. You begin gathering used arrows, soldier weapons, loose horses and tending your injured. .. . Other warriors strip and mutilate the dead soldiers; some do this for want or need of clothing, some revenge the mutilations at Sand Creek and others believe that it will hinder the soldiers' life in the hereafter. Each warrior has his own reasons.

This language locates "you" (both singular and plural) with the defeated soldiers and the victorious Indians. In this nongame of cowboy and Indian, it is noble (and human) to be either. Here, grief is not private and privatizing, something a person feels alone. Instead, it is universal. As Butler (2004) hypothesized, this grief "furnishes a sense of a political community of a complex order ... by bringing to the fore the relational ties that have implications for theorizing fundamental dependency and ethical responsibility" (p. 22).

In sum, recent interpretive plaques rebut the Fetterman Battlefield monument's erasures of history, erasures effected by naming the battle a "massacre" and denying the presence of survivors. Visitors are induced to read the original monument with an expanded memory, to dissect its univocal verbal and visual claims, and to recognize that the ultimate victors in the Indian Wars wrote a history that denied the very existence of those against whom they fought. The multiple interpretive plaques open up the unitary rock cairn to the multiple histories and peoples present at the site. Visitors are located within a public that mourns all the dead, as memory technologies are employed to open memory and demonstrate its fluidity. Here, dissection does not break down the original monument so much as it opens up both memory and the monumental space. Medically speaking, dissection opens up a specimen for close examination, revealing the heretofore hidden. These interpretive plaques open up memory to include more than the U.S. military, and they open the space for the story of both soldiers and warriors. Dominant memory is countered not by negation but by revealing the hollow core of its incompleteness.


Roughly one hundred miles to the north-northwest, in southern Montana, sits the Fetterman Battlefield's more (in)famous cousin, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, site of the most famous battle in the Indian Wars. As even schoolchildren know, this battle is remembered not because it was a great victory for the U.S. 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, but because, on June 25, 1876, it saw the Cavalry's annihilation, again, by the combined might of the Lakota, Hinono'eino', and Tsistsistas. In 1881, the 7th Cavalry Memorial was erected. A 36,000-pound, granite obelisk listing the soldiers, civilians, and Sahnish (Arikara) scouts killed in the battle, the monument is situated atop a mass grave overlooking Last Stand Hill, on which death locations of the Cavalry are designated by white marble, headstone-shaped markers inscribed with the soldier's name and role.

In 1886, the site was named the National Cemetery of Custer's Battlefield Reservation. In a letter sent to the U.S. Army in 1925, Mrs. Thomas Beaverheart (daughter of a Southern Cheyenne killed in the battle) initiated Indian demands for inclusion at the site. The Army never replied. Under control of the War Department through the 1930s, the Battlefield was transferred to the Department of the Interior as part of the national park system in 1940 (the cemetery had been transferred in 1933). In 1946, the site was renamed the Custer Battlefield National Monument (CBNM). In the 1940s and 1950s, Indians requested that a memorial to their people be included at the site (Whitright, 1990, p. 37).

In 1972, the Trail of Broken Treaties stopped at CBNM and petitioned the National Park Service to develop a memorial to the Indians who had died there (Whitright, 1990, p. 36). Nothing was done. In 1976, in conjunction with the Trail of Self-Determination and on the one-hundredth anniversary of the battle, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and descendants of battle participants were included in the official program; again, Indians requested that the Park Service develop a memorial. Again, nothing was done. In 1988, AIM members, led by Russell Means, cemented into the grassy base of the 7th Cavalry Memorial a metal plaque that read: "In honor of our Indian Patriots who fought and defeated the U.S. Calvary In order to save our women and children from mass-murder. In doing so, preserving rights to our Homelands, Treaties, and Sovereignty. 6/25/88 G. Magpie Cheyenne" (for more on the protests, see Elliott, 2006). The plaque was removed from the mass grave and placed in the visitor's center at CBNM. In 1991, under the supervision of Barbara Booher (the first Indian woman to superintend the CBNM), the site was rededicated as the

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LBBNM) and a national design competition for an Indian Memorial was authorized (Simonelli, 1994). Upon signing the authorizing legislation, President George H. W. Bush explained: "The public interest will best be served by establishing a memorial ... to honor and recognize the Indians who fought to preserve their land and culture" (as cited in Reece, n.d.).

In 1997, a design by John R. Collins and Alison J. Towers was selected. Representing the theme "Peace Through Unity," it incorporated a sculpture of Spirit Warriors created by Lakota artist Colleen "Sister Wolf" Cutschall, based on pictograph drawings by White Bird, who participated in the battle as a 15-year-old Cheyenne (Parrottet, 2005). An advisory committee, composed of members of all the Indian nations involved in the battle, historians, artists, and landscape architects, selected the Collins/Towers design on the recommendation of Elders Austin Two Moons (Northern Cheyenne) and Enos Poor Bear, Sr. (Oglala Lakota; Western National Parks Association, 2003). In addition to the Indian Memorial, beginning in 1999 red granite Warrior Markers came to designate where Indians fell in the battle, just as white markers designate where soldiers fell. Since 1999, approximately 17 Warrior Markers have been erected. These markers intentionally were designed to be of similar shape and size to the 265 white marble markers for the 7th Cavalry (see Doemer, 2000).

After almost eighty years of agitation, the Indian Memorial was dedicated, finally, on June 25, 2003. The Indian Memorial transforms the 7th Cavalry Memorial on two levels. First, it counters the memorial's built-in absence by making Indians present. Second, it counters the dehumanization of Indians as "savages" by expanding sacred space at LBBNM, making clear that Lakota, Hinono'eino', and Tsistsistas lives are just as grievable as 7th Cavalry lives.

Countering Absences in Public Memory: Monumental Presence

We write of presence and absence, rather than recollection and amnesia, because we take to heart Blair, Dickinson, and Ott's warning that "the metaphoric borrowing between theories of individual memory and collective memory (e.g., 'collective amnesia') can be problematic" (Blair, Dickinson, & Ott, 2010, p. 18). Collective Euramerican memory is not amnesiac per se with regard to Indians' role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and Indian oral histories make clear that they have not forgotten themselves or the battle (see Viola, 1999). There is no amnesia; memories have not been lost. Instead, Indian histories and memories have been written over. This "palimpsestic character of memory" points to the utility of presence and absence when navigating the dialectics of memory (Blair, Dickinson, & Ott, 2010, p. 19).

The concept of presence also has been noted as central to the study of visual rhetorics. Diane S. Hope (2006) noted how visuals possess the characteristic of presence because of their immediacy, meaning their ability to bring something to the front of an audience's consciousness. Generally, the process of "selecting certain elements and presenting them to the audience" implies that they are pertinent and important and, thus, imbues them with presence (Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1969, p. 116; see also Prelli, 2006, p. 7). As an analytic tool, the concept of presence best captures the controversy attending the Indian Memorial and the Memorial's work. By countering an absence, dominant memories are refuted and, thus, transformed.

The 7th Cavalry Memorial long was the centerpiece of CBNM. Thus, Indians' presence at CBNM, traditionally, was confined to Custer's scouts, to an undifferentiated group of "Sioux Indians" (rendering absent the Arapaho and Cheyenne) against whom the Cavalry fought, and to "hostile Indians" (so designated on the Officers' Memorial in the Custer National Cemetery dedicated to those killed in Montana during the Indian Wars). Although the granite obelisk does name the "Arikaree Indian Scouts" Bloody Knife, Bobtailed Bull, and Little Soldier, even this misnames the Sahnish (Arikara) and Little Scout. These errors make clear that even the three scouts' presence writes over portions of history, such as the contributions of the Crow scouts (including White Swan) whose lives were not lost. Thus, although not total, absence is stark, as Northern Cheyenne and U.S. Representative Ben Nighthorse Campbell (1990) testified: "There is nothing at the Custer Battlefield that specifically acknowledges the Indian perspective and the Indian fives that where [sic] lost" (p. 2).

The Indian Memorial is a circular earthwork carved into the shoulder of Last Stand Hill, seventy-five yards northeast of the 7th Cavalry Memorial, and includes a metal sculpture of an Indian woman and three Spirit Warriors on horseback and panels inscribed with the names of Indians who fought in the battle (regardless of side). Visitors enter from the west and exit to the east; once inside, they can see the 7th Cavalry Memorial through a spirit window placed in the south wall.

In advocacy of the Indian Memorial, Park Service and Indian speakers took pains to argue that it was not meant to, and would not, denigrate the 7th Cavalry Memorial. That is, advocates argued explicitly that the proposed monument did not negate the existing memorial. They intended the Indian Memorial to create a presence, not erase one. The pamphlet announcing the design competition urged entrants to: "Create a distinguished memorial ... that does not intrude on the environment or compete with the existing [7th Cavalry] monument ... Conversely, the Indian memorial should not be subordinate to the existing monument composition" ("Peace Through Unity," 1996, sec. 1, p. 3). In testimony on behalf of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma, Susan Shown Haijo (1990) echoed:

Our people, our heroes who died there are referred to as hoards [sic] of Indians ... we do need a reversal of this pattern of dehumanization of our people.... All these things can be done without taking away from what is there already. We just need to remove some of the more egregious areas of racism and dehumanization, and inject dignity for our dead relatives and for our living people and our coming generations, (pp. 43-44)

From this perspective, the red granite Warrior Markers counter the 7th Cavalry's white marble markers and the names of Indians inscribed on the Memorial counter the names on the 7th Cavalry Memorial.

However, this countering is not a negation. Susanne Langer observed (1953) that "the significance of a pure perceptible form is limited by nothing but the formal structure itself. Consequently references that could be rationally taken only as alternatives are simply co-present as 'the import' in art" (p. 242). The simultaneous presence of both Monument and Memorial fuses two seemingly contradictory affects (honor soldiers or honor warriors) in one expression (remember the battle by honoring all those who died). In Lake and Pickering's terminology, this simultaneous presence transforms the space without negating those whom the space honored originally.

Transforming Sacred Space

Supporters of Custer's legacy, such as the keepers of the Custer/Little Bighorn Battlefield Advocate, repeatedly claimed that they were not opposed to an Indian Memorial. However, they did oppose its placement near or on Last Stand Hill because they saw this as an encroachment on sacred space. A 2002 petition to George W. Bush argued that the monument should not be so placed because the 7th Cavalry Memorial's "stark isolation" was symbolically significant for public memory: "[T]he grave marker visually evokes the tragic fate of the tiny band of besieged soldiers who perished on the Hill and who found there anonymous graves" ("Petition," 2002, p. 8). By ignoring the fact that Cavalrymen's blood did not solely consecrate the ground, the petition denies the grievability of Indian lives. Approximately one hundred Indian men, women, and children were slain by members of the Cavalry; those named on the 7th Cavalry Memorial are slayers as much as they are the slain.

Proponents of the Indian Memorial consistently upheld a sense of sacrality, expanding it to include the presence of Indians. During a public hearing at Eastern Montana College on the name change from Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Mickey Pablo, chair of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, testified that the site "should be a place of history, a place of reverence where brave men, some aggressors and others protecting their families, met in the line of duty" (as cited in "Battlefield Name Divides Opinion," circa 1990). During dedication ceremonies in 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton affirmed:

[S]ince 1881 there has been a monument to General Custer and his soldiers. Consecrated in this same ground is the blood of Native Americans-the great Sioux Nation, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho and the scouting tribes: the Crow and the Ankara. Yet for 127 years no monument or obelisk marked their loss of life. We are here today to change that. We join together to seek peace through unity, (as cited in McNeel, 2003)

Hence, the Memorial argues, Indian blood holds the same power to consecrate as Cavalry blood. Steve Brady, a Northern Cheyenne, commented: "The Little Bighorn Battlefield is a sacred site because so many lives were lost there" (as cited in "After 120," 1996, p. 20). Many lives, not only Cavalry lives, were lost. Recognition of this elementary fact of shared humanity in death prompted Haijo (1990) to testify: "It is long past time, but not too late ... for Congress to officially recognize the humanity of our Indian heroes and to respect the needs of our children for symbolic tributes" (p. 45). During ceremonies celebrating the name change, Superintendent Booher promised to "broaden our interpretation, to see a little bit more human aspect" and not just report the military story (as cited in O'Driscoll, 1992). In this way, whose blood counted as sacred-as human-was expanded.

The forms of the sacred also were expanded. Indian warrior markers embraced the traditional Euramerican manner of marking graves with headstones. On the other hand, Indian traditions were incorporated into the Memorial. Its circular and open form enables visitors to enter into its space, not simply to observe it, and the Spirit Warrior sculpture creates a place onto which prayer offerings can be tied. Additionally, the Indian Memorials' spirit window frames the 7th Cavalry Memorial and invites the spirits of the soldiers into the Indian Memorial. Thus, the Indian Memorial counters the original monument's exclusions by including more of the dead within the purview of the sacred and expanding the sacred to a wider range of spiritual traditions. Those opposed to the placement of the Indian Memorial interpreted its oppositional argument as "desecration" (Terrell & Terrell, 2003, p. 1) of the sacred space of Last Stand Hill. However, the Memorial is understood more accurately not as a negation of this sacred space but as an expansion, including Indians who died there as well.

In sum, sacred spaces need not be negated in order to transform memory. At LBBNM, the placement of the Indian Memorial on Last Stand Hill and the placement of Warrior Markers throughout the battlefield transform the space by creating a new visual frame. The 7th Cavalry Memorial is no longer the center of the space; instead, its polarity is modified, literally reframed, by the Indian Memorial and its spirit window. Not only Cavalry deaths, but Indian deaths, are marked throughout the battlefield. These additions both symbolically and materially expand the scope of those included in the sacred, thus transforming the Battlefield National Monument. Placing the Indian Memorial on Last Stand Hill transforms the space and answers the 7th Cavalry Memorial with the claim that Indian lives--and deaths-matter.


Arguments about which lives matter are not limited to military battles between nations; they also can emerge between citizens of the same city. On May 4, 1888, three thousand, largely unarmed workers converged on Haymarket Square in Chicago to hear Albert Parsons, August Spies, and other labor leaders respond to events of three days before, when laborers had been murdered during efforts to break a strike. Albert Parsons attended the event with his wife, Lucy Parsons (who would become a major figure in organized labor), and their two young children, leaving shortly after addressing the crowd. Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr., departed the event at roughly the same time, advising police as he was leaving that the meeting seemed orderly and peaceful.

While Parsons and his family sat in a nearby pub, 180 police officers advanced on the thinning crowd at Haymarket Square. What happened next remains highly contested.

Anarchist George Brown's (1912) eyewitness account claims that police Captain John Bonfield commanded the crowd to disperse, whereupon "instantly the police began firing into the people." Most accounts claim that a bomb was thrown into the police phalanx; whether by unionists, anarchists, an agent provocateur, or possibly another officer has been debated for more than a century (Avrich, 1986; Green, 2006). In any event, police opened fire, leaving the square strewn with fallen and fleeing laborers. Eight police officers were killed; the number of labor casualties is difficult to estimate, as circumstances made it dangerous to seek medical attention.

In response to the violence, newspapers, spearheaded by the Chicago Tribune, called for the arrest of labor organizers and anarchist leaders associated with the Haymarket rally. Spies and six others were arrested; Parsons turned himself in six weeks later. The eight were charged with conspiracy to kill patrolman Mathias J. Degan, the officer killed by the bomb. Circumventing normal voir dire, jurors were chosen by a special bailiff, and quickly found all eight men guilty. Seven were sentenced to death by hanging; Oscar Neebe was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. In 1893, three of the men were pardoned, but one, Louis Lingg, already had taken his own life by detonating a dynamite cap in his mouth. It also was too late for Parsons, Spies, Adolph Fischer, and toymaker George Engel, whose bodies already hung from the Chicago gallows (Avrich, 1986, p. 196).

Shortly after the executions, the Tribune began urging the public to donate money for a monument to the police who had lost their lives in what the paper, like most other anti-labor publications, called the "Haymarket 'Riot'" (Avrich, 1986, p. 208). After ten months of constant campaigning, the Tribune had raised only $150 for the monument's construction. Eventually, the Union League Club (an organization of large business owners) contributed $10,000, sufficient to erect a bronze statue of a police officer with his arm raised, as if ordering someone to halt. The design of the statue itself became contentious amongst the members of the Union League Club, as sculptor John Gelert chose as his inspiration a Chicago police officer named Thomas F. Birmingham. Birmingham was of Irish descent, and the committee was concerned that the statue looked too Irish (see Adelman, 1986, p. 167).

Outraged by this monument in Haymarket Square, anarchists wanted to erect a monument to those killed by police gunfire during what they called the "Haymarket Massacre" and to the martyrs murdered by the state in a sham trial. Mayor Crieger denied the anarchists' request to erect another monument in the square. Instead, the Haymarket Monument, also known as the Martyrs Monument, was placed at Waldheim Cemetery, ten miles from Haymarket Square, at the gravesites of Parsons, Spies, and the other Haymarket martyrs. This monument, depicting the female figure of Justice placing a laurel wreath on the head of a fallen worker, thus occupies an alternative sacred space.

The Martyrs Monument counters the Police Monument by representing the laborers who were denied presence at the Haymarket massacre site. Emma Goldman (2008) claimed that the Martyrs Monument "served as an embodiment of the ideals for which the men had died, a visible symbol of their works and their deeds" (p. 223). The monument marks the gravesites of the Haymarket martyrs as an alternative sacred space and reconstitutes the laborers, rather than the police, as victims. It tells a countemarrative in which the set of grievable lives is expanded to include laborers, activists, and victims of police violence. Several elements tell this counternarrative, including display of the year (1887) in which the Haymarket martyrs were executed, and August Spies's final words, etched on its pedestal: "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today."

Creation of an alternative sacred space was not the only method of answering the Police Monument. Despite its prominent position at the sacred space of Haymarket, over the next century other activists countered the monument further by damaging and defiling it. Forty-one years to the day after the Haymarket Massacre, a streetcar driver identified only as "O'Neil" took aim at the Police Monument, hopped the tracks, and crashed his streetcar into the monument's plinth, toppling the statue to the ground (Adelman, 1986, p. 168). The monument was vandalized again on October 6, 1969, when Weathermen strapped dynamite to the policeman's bronze legs and blew him to pieces, depositing his legless torso on the John F. Kennedy Expressway (Lampert, 2007). Haymarket has remained significant to laborers, and repeated destruction of the Police Monument refutes the bronze officer's claim on space rightfully sanctified by the blood of labor protesters. Haymarket also has remained significant to the Chicago police, and, following the Weathermen's bombing, Mayor Richard J. Daley, only months removed from another protest in Chicago that would lead to eight individuals standing trial for challenging state control and capitalism promised to replace the Police Monument. Sculptor Mario Spampinato was commissioned and, on May 4, 1970-on the eighty-fourth anniversary of the massacre-the City of Chicago rededicated the statue. The ceremony drew little attention beyond the city because, in a great historical irony, National Guardsmen on this day opened fire on antiwar protestors at Kent State University.

Just three months after its rededication, and exactly one year after their initial attack, the newly renamed Weather Underground again strapped dynamite to the Police Monument and lit the fuse. Again, the bronze officer was blown legless onto the expressway. Again, Mario Spampinato was called upon to restore the monument (Adelman, 1986, p. 168). The task was impossible, at least symbolically. Although the Police Monument was repaired, a statue that once drove O'Neil to risk his life and, presumably, find a new line of work, had been altered irretrievably. The Weathermen had transformed the monument into an almost comic symbol: Rather than representing the narrative of the Haymarket Riot, it became associated in local media coverage with a battle of wills between young people with dynamite and Chicago officialdom (Adelman, 1986, p. 168). In contrast, the Waldheim Cemetery monument remained a sacred and pristine counterpoint to the carnival surrounding the Police Monument.

More than oddly humorous, destruction of the Police Monument is theoretically significant because it altered the argumentative tension between the two memorials. While the Martyrs Monument remained a somber reminder of those who lost their lives in the massacre, the Police Monument became less about the Haymarket incident and more about the ongoing struggle between the Mayor and the Weathermen; at least, it became a symbolically significant site upon which to resist state power. Lake and Pickering, who analyzed visual argument across films, described substitution as the replacement of one image by another (e.g., an image/character in one film is substituted in place of another). For example, in Planned Parenthood's The Answer video, confident and professional women were substituted for the quiet and passive women displayed in Silent Scream. Both appeared next to the same images, but the women in The Answer helped to counter the representations of abortion featured in Silent Scream. The point here is that where Lake and Pickering analyzed substitution as the complete replacement of one for another, substitution on the Haymarket/ Waldheim sites (at least initially) did not entail the complete removal of the competing perspective.

Unlike images, in sacred spaces-particularly those sanctified by blood-complete replacement is impossible. Although one image might be replaced with another, the original sacred space of the Haymarket Massacre-the ground upon which both police officers and anarchists fell-could not be simply erased and replaced. For seventy years, the Police and Martyrs Monuments offered competing narratives, remembering opposing sacrifices and lives lost. In 1976, when Mayor Daley removed the Police Monument from Haymarket and relocated it to Central Police Headquarters, the substitution became more complete: Haymarket Square no longer was framed by the bronze statue and its narrative of the Haymarket Riot. However, the Waldheim memorial still offered its account, and labor activists sought to strengthen the link between the two sites in order to counter the presence of the Police Monument and the absence in public memory of the Haymarket Massacre. The space was sacred because protestors lost their lives; thus, anarchists and laborers saw a monument to state power as desecration. The argument focused not on whether the space was sacred, but on who could and rightfully should occupy the sacred space.

In 2002, Chicago artist Michael Piazza became concerned that Haymarket Square's history was fading: "[T]here was a division between a small group of people in town who knew what it represented, who had this local knowledge and memory, while there was a whole other group who just thought it was an empty pedestal" (as cited in Lampert, n.d.). Piazza called on local artists to participate in an "8-Hour Action Series" of performances that would remind residents about the square's past. In response, the City of Chicago paved over the plinth, leaving "no physical evidence of where the Police Monument once stood" (Lampert, 2007, p. 261). Local artists were undeterred, and a series of performances has preserved the laborers' presence at the site. One of the most popular of these performances is a bicycle ride from Haymarket Square to Waldheim Cemetery. Repeated several times since 2004, the ride connects the two sites, ensuring that in the absence of the Police Monument, the Martyrs Monument frames Haymarket Square. In this way, the cemetery marks laborers' presence in the square, and communicates to riders that the latter has been sanctified by the blood of those laborers. In 2004, a sculpture created by Mary Brogger was dedicated on the site. Labeled The Haymarket Memorial, it abstractly depicts a group of people holding up and standing on a wagon, with a short and ambiguous statement suggesting that past violence occurred on the site. These performances have followed diverse routes from square to cemetery, passing by different locations relevant to labor history in Chicago, thereby expanding even further the lives deemed worthy of remembrance.


Memory struggles converge over places and times. Events in 1866, 1876, and 1886 sustain contemporary memory struggles. The calm at Fetterman Battlefield, the 7th Cavalry Memorial on Last Stand Hill, and the Police Monument at Haymarket are not objective recordings of a fixed historical past. By making present only selected aspects of the past, these memorials offer "important communicative messages, rather than simply serving as backdrops, contexts, or scenes in which communication occurs" (Blair, 2006, p. 56). They argue and, as such, invite counterargument. Counterargument offers the possibility of destabilizing fixed monumental histories, fixed presence, and of opening up memory to account for its absences.

These oppositional memory practices take many forms. Adapting Lake and Pickering's suggestive typology to monuments, we have discussed three such forms: (1) at Fetterman, interpretive plaques dissected an existing memorial; (2) at LBBNM, a new monument transformed the sacred space formerly occupied exclusively by another monument; and (3) at Haymarket, destruction of a monument enabled substitution of a competing monument. Each of these forms opens sacred space to wider, more complicated histories.

Rhetoricians and other scholars have contributed much to our understanding of public memory and memorialization. However, postconstruction controversies over monuments and their meanings have been neglected. Blair, Jeppeson, and Pucci's work on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is the closest, but even this insightful work considers the constituent elements of the site synchronically by focusing on how the various elements interact with one another. The controversies we have analyzed are a fundamentally argumentative process in which advocates strive to (re)define meaning by challenging a monument's extant, presentational claims. Lake and Pickering's typology of visual refutation offers a useful framework for studying the strategies by which marginalized groups seek to unfix memory and contest the narratives formed in stone, bronze, granite, and other materials. Although their typology informs our analyses, the sacred sites we study endure across time in a way that the videos that prompted Lake and Pickering's analysis do not. The longevity of the sites we study makes a simple categorization of oppositional memory practices more difficult, as each site has been subject to frequent conflict and argument over time.

As our examples make clear, when monuments claim that only some lives count as human and, hence, deserve to be mourned, sacred ground becomes a site of contestation. At Fetterman, there were survivors-Indians whose lives warranted memorializing. Identification induces visitors to recognize the shared humanity of all those who fought. At LBBNM, Indian blood consecrates the ground and Indian spirituality (in the form of the Indian Memorial's spirit window) literally reframes the 7th Cavalry Memorial. Indians are made present in a sacred space. At Haymarket, police and anarchists struggled over rights to the sacred space, competing sacred spaces emerged over time, and new practices have resacralized a sacred space eroded by memory loss.

The oppositional memory practices analyzed here are not exhaustive, but offer strategies by which narrow conceptions of who is worthy of remembrance can be countered and space can be opened to explore contested memories--especially when the contested memory is about groups marginalized, reviled, erased, and denied full humanity. But countering erasures of humanity in some fashion is important if sacred spaces are to accommodate multiple, inclusive articulations of the past. One powerful counterargument opens memory by expanding the lives marked as grievable. In the cases examined here, oppositional memory practices counter existing monuments by rendering previously absent, excluded groups present. In this way, calcified meanings at sacred sites--the gestalt meanings of presentational forms-are refuted by expanding our understanding of who is human, of what constitutes a grievable (and memorable) life.


(1.) The term counter-monument often is used by scholars to refer to European, particularly Holocaust, memorials designed to defy traditional monumental conventions (Young, 1993). Our focus is on monuments designed to counter the arguments advanced by other monuments and expand how memory is represented on the site. For a detailed analysis of the process of expanding representation at U.S. monument sites, see McGeough, 2011.

(2.) We choose to use the term Indian rather than Native American in this essay to reflect the

term used in the interpretive plaques at the Fetterman site and the term selected by those involved in the Indian Memorial (see Whitright, 1990, p. 27).


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Ryan Erik McGeough and Catherine Helen Palczewski, Department of Communication Studies, University of Northern Iowa; Randall A. Lake, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the 2007 NCA/AFA Biennial Conference on Argumentation (and published in the selected works from that conference, Concerning Argument, in 2009) and the 2008 William A. Kern Conference on Visual Communication. Palczewski acknowledges the support provided by the UNI Graduate College in the form of a summer research fellowship that enabled site research at Fetterman and Little Bighorn. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ryan McGeough, Department of Communication Studies, University of Northern Iowa, Lang 326, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 50614-0139. E-mail:
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Author:McGeough, Ryan Erik; Palczewski, Catherine Helen; Lake, Randall A.
Publication:Argumentation and Advocacy
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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