Cherokee man believes Chief Pontiac didn't belong at Harry's on the Hill

A statue of an Indian chief was removed from an Asheville dealership Friday. (Photo credit: WLOS)

A statue of an Indian chief was removed from an Asheville auto dealership Friday.

The statue of Chief Pontiac, an 18th century Ottawa ware chief, stood in front of Harry's on the Hill for decades.

Some believe the statue disrespected the Native American culture. Others are just upset to see the decades-old icon leave town.

The idea to remove the chief didn't come overnight.

In June, a manager at the dealership told News 13 that an ugly, insulting and inappropriate text message from a salesperson to a customer led to the termination of that employee.

We later learned that incident was linked to the dealership's decision to remove the statue.

"It's very important to me. It's very important to my family that we are a part of this community and that we better the community," said Anna Grimes of Harry's on the Hill.

Bo Taylor, a Native American and executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, he wishes Chief Pontiac wasn't just seen as an icon outside of a car dealership.

"As a native, I encounter a lot of things that are offensive," Taylor said.

Outside the museum, the Cherokee have a statue of Sequoyah.

"He was ours. The statue is a depiction of our people, and that's the thing, Harry's on the Hill, Chief Pontiac did not belong to him," Taylor said.

Taylor said as he sees statues of Native Americans displayed as icons across America, but he doesn't always think they need to be removed. He believes there's a simpler solution.

"This could be a good instigator for people to see knowledge and to learn rather than to get mad and say, 'Why you tearing the Indian down?' It should be more than that," Taylor said.

The owners of Harry's plan to send the statue to its original owner in Arizona.

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