DeKalb County’s ‘Indian War’ cannon may be removed by county commissioners
By David Pendered
The debate over human rights issues related to DeKalb County’s “Indian War” cannon has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, even as a new resolution to remove the cannon is pending before DeKalb County’s Board of Commissioners.
Advocates of the removal of the cannon from the Decatur Square began this summer to portray the weapon in the context of the treatment of human rights of First Nation peoples. The cannon’s plaque states it was used in the “Indian War of 1836,” which was waged to expel Native Americans from Georgia.
In the Supreme Court, four petitions filed this month ask justices to determine if the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is unconstitutional. Texas is among the parties opposed to portions of the law, and filed this petition. The law intends to regulate states in their removal of First Nation children from their families, and to ensure the children who are removed are placed in adoptive or foster homes that “reflect the unique values of Indian culture,” according to the congressional declaration of policy. The court is to respond to all four petitions by Oct. 8.
DeKalb County commissioners now are considering a resolution to remove the cannon. The resolution observes that:
- The cannon’s owner is unknown;
- The cannon’s inscription calls it a “relic,” rather than a memorial, which would be protected under state law;
- The cannon is a subject of protests and rallies calling for removal;
- For these reasons and others, the cannon should be removed from the Decatur Square and placed in a storage facility while the county tries to locate the owner to “reclaim and retrieve” the cannon.
The resolution prescribing the removal of the cannon and its pedestal outlines the following method for locating the cannon’s owners:
- “The County Attorney is directed to place a notice in the County’s legal organ to advise the public and potential owners of this Resolution and ownership issues related to the Relic Cannon and to report back to the Governing Authority if any potential owners can provide any indicia of ownership of the Relic Cannon.”
The resolution and its supporting documents contain a great deal of recorded history about the cannon, though it hasn’t been part of the public discussion about the cannon’s potential removal.
For starters, the cannon’s placement was a consolation prize for the United Daughters of the Confederacy when it didn’t have enough money to erect a monument to Confederate soldiers. This legacy is describe in a transcription of a report written in 1906 by “Mrs. Alice Billups,” president of the Agnes Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
According to a portion of the transcription of Mrs. Billups’ report:
- “The Chapter had formed a movement and had begun work to erect a monument in Decatur to the soldiers which went out first from this County….
- “The Teasury now contained something over $60. We saw that we must give up the monument, but what we could do: Mount an old historic cannon that had been lying on the Decatur Square for more than 60 years….”
Two years later, in 1908, the UDC was able to erect a 30-foot Confederate Memorial Obelisk. The monument was removed in 2020, under an order from former DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Georgia chapter, filed a lawsuit in June to have the monument restored to its former location.