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Indians Cede the Land Mural by George Melville Smith


Note from Library Director Heidi Smith

After just a few short weeks as your Library Director, I can already tell you I have the best job in the world. On a day-to-day basis, I get to work with an exceptional team, serve a dynamic community, and participate in the ideas and excitement our services and spaces generate.

I feel privileged to also serve as steward to a vibrant piece of American history like George Melville Smith’s mural, “Indians Cede the Land.” Our library, like many other libraries, is an institution for preserving art, literature, local history, and other intellectual works for study and discussion. As part of this mission, we ensure that works of art such as “Indians Cede the Land” are not only well-preserved, but also displayed prominently. This showcases local history, inspires discussion, and ensures future generations are able to experience the value of art that challenges us. That’s what libraries are all about!

"Indians Cede the Land" (1940) was created for the Park Ridge Post Office as part of the Treasury Relief Art Project. The mural was removed in 1970 when the building was sold. After 38 years in storage, the mural was donated to the Park Ridge Public Library in 2008. A group of citizens took on the task of raising funds for the restoration and installation of the mural. In 2013, as part of the Library's 100th Anniversary celebration, the restored mural was unveiled in its new location on the second floor of the Library. Click here for more information.

Thanks to the support of our community, the Library is currently undergoing renovation to update our facility. New light fixtures on the second floor will partially obscure the mural in its current location. Park Ridge Public Library Trustees are considering options. Library staff have been in contact with several community members who were integral in restoring the mural to gather feedback. Please join us at our upcoming committee and board meetings to share your comments.


View proposed mural locations.

Also of note, last week Library board and staff began work to update the information the library makes available to the public about the mural. We hope to provide additional information about its historical context both in terms of the subject matter and the time in which it was created. We also want to help frame the discussion of the piece in modern times. We are currently reviewing suggestions provided by Julie Pelletier, Acting Director of D'Arcy NcNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies of The Newberry.

Click for a brief excerpt. 

Thank you for the warm welcome, encouragement and support. I hope to see you soon at the Library!

All the best,
Heidi Smith
Park Ridge Public Library Director



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