The Pioneer Statue

The former location of “The Pioneer” statue between Johnson, Fenton, and Friendly Hall

Artist: Alexander Phimister Proctor
Date: 1918, installed 1919

This sculpture, located across from Johnson Hall, in between Friendly and Fenton Hall, was dedicated with great ceremony in May 1919. The sculptor, Alexander Phimister Proctor (1862-1950), used a trapper from near Burns, Oregon, as his model. The 1918 bronze statue, mounted on a base of McKenzie River basalt, was a gift of Joseph N. Teal, Portland attorney.

In the early twentieth century there was a movement across the country to install pioneer statues to valorize the achievements of pioneers. Proctor, the sculptor, made several of these monuments. He had the idea for this statue and searched for ten years to find the right model. After he found J.C. Cravens, he went to Joseph Teal, who agreed to fund the statue and it became the fist statue on campus.

In 1919, the President of the Oregon Historical Society made a speech at the dedication that extolled the virtues of the Anglo-Saxon race. In the speech he stated,

“the Anglo-Saxon race is a branch of the Teutonic race. It was and is a liberty-loving race. It believes in the protection of life and of liberty an in the rights of property and the pursuit of happiness. This race has large powers of assimilation, and its great ideas of liberty and of the rights of mankind caused other races to become a part of it, so it became a people as well as a race.”

Due to these controversial statements, various students and faculty have worked to bring awareness about this issue and reveal the history and statements surrounding the statue. See the “Related Sources” section for a number of these articles and research projects.

The statue and its counterpart, The Pioneer Mother, were toppled by demonstrators on June 13, 2020.

Related Sources

Architecture of the University of Oregon website [currently unavailable]

Proctor, Alexander Phimister. Alexander Phimister Proctor, sculptor in buckskin; an autobiography. Edited and with an introd. by Hester Elizabeth Proctor. Introd. by Vivian A. Paladin Publisher Norman, University of Oklahoma Press [1971].

“Working on Teal statue; A. Phimister Proctor busy on model for Teal gift statue. (Pioneer father), Daily Emerald 4/26/17; 1.

“Statue will stand amid Campus firs; “Location for Proctor’s ‘Pioneer’ picked out.” Daily Emerald 4/13/18; 1.

“Pioneer statue to arrive soon; Daily Emerald.” 4/10/19; 2; 2.

“‘Pioneer'” erected on Campus site; canvas-covered”; (father).” Daily Emerald 5/13/19; 1.

“Pioneer statue, J. W. Teal’s gift to Oregon, unveiled.” Daily Emerald 5/22/19; 1.

Jenkins, Madeline Luella. “Monuments of Multiple Meanings: Alexander Phimister Proctor’s University of Oregon Representations of Pioneers and Native Americans Over Time,” Honors College Thesis, University of Oregon, Eugene, 2017. Available on Scholars Bank, http://hdl.handle.net/1794/24020

New Research Reveals the Pioneer Statue’s Controversial History,” Daily Emerald, May 20, 2019.

Carpenter, Marc. “”Rake Up No Old Stories of Evil”: Memory, Celebration, and Erasure of Settler Violence in the American Pacific Northwest,” PhD Dissertation, University of Oregon, Eugene, 2021. Available on Scholars’ Bank, https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/26906