Indigenous women stand where Columbus statue once stood in powerful photo

On July 1, four women from four different nations dressed in their regalia and stood by an empty pedestal in Detroit. The resulting photo went viral.
Rosa María Zamarrón, a documentary and portrait photographer based in Detroit, took the image of four women in regalia standing where a Christopher Columbus statue bust once stood. (Rosa María Zamarrón)

This episode originally aired October 4, 2020.

On July 1, four women from four different nations dressed in regalia and stood by an empty pedestal in Detroit.

It's where a statue of Christopher Columbus stood for 110 years, before being taken down last month. 

Rosa María Zamarrón, a Mexican photographer, took a photo of the women that day, and it went viral over the July 4th weekend. 

Her portrait has been liked more than 18,000 times on her Instagram account and was featured in Vogue

Zamarrón's photo shows Courtney Miller, who is dressed in fancy shawl regalia, standing on top of the empty pedestal with her arms stretched wide. Teia McGahey, Hadassah GreenSky, and Joelle Joyner, who are wearing jingle dresses, stand at the monument's base. 

The Columbus bust in Detroit had been at the centre of debates for years, said Zamarrón. In 2015, the monument made international headlines when it was smeared with fake blood and an axe was "wedged" into its forehead with tape.

"It's been years of people protesting and trying to do something," Zamarrón told Unreserved host Falen Johnson. 

After Zamarrón posted the photo, many people reached out to her to express their appreciation, she said. Some told her the photo should be the basis for a new statue to replace the one of Columbus. 

"It makes me feel really happy that it got received in the way that it did because it just means that it pushes people forward," Zamarrón said. "It pushes people to want to do more and to feel that courage to be able to stand up for what they want, what they believe in.

"I just feel really proud of these women."