Promised Land

Information
Photo of Portland monument of the Promise Land

The Promised Land, 1993, bronze on granite plinth

Location

Center of Chapman Square in downtown, directly west of the Justice Center, Portland

Creation and Dedication

Made by artist David Manuel and commissioned by the Oregon Trail Coordinating Council, the sculpture was donated to the city.

Vandalism/Removal

During the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the daily protests that ensued that summer in Portland were centered on the Justice Center and neighboring federal buildings across the street from Chapman Square, where The Promised Land was installed. The statue became a hub of the protests. It was damaged, and in response to community concerns and protestors’ attempts to topple it, the RACC removed the statue on July 23, 2020, putting it in storage.

Current Status

This statue is not in the Historic Resource Inventory. This monument is part of the City of Portland and Multnomah County Public Art Collection, courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. It is currently in storage, in need of repair.                                                                                                                                  

Noted Issues: The Promised Land is a monument of a bearded man with his arm around a contemplative woman, and a young boy who is holding a Bible. Commissioned by the Oregon Trail Coordinating Council, the monument’s purpose is to honor Oregon settlers and the creation of Oregon State.

The Promise Land has been criticized for its one-sided and optimistic version of colonization. In fact, the gift was originally rejected by the predecessor of the Regional Arts & Culture Council and the Metropolitan Arts Commission’s Public Art Advisory Committee. When The Promise Land was was installed in 1993, there was discussion about it holding a colonialist perspective; celebrating Christian white westward expansion; and obscuring the genocide of Indigenous peoples due to ideas such as Manifest Destiny, which believed that God intended for the United States to expand their territory and thereby forcing the removal of Native Americans and other groups from their homes[1].