Indian leaders view lynching murals as Idaho mulls paintings' future

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Leaders of four Idaho American Indian tribes today viewed Depression-era murals depicting an Indian lynching that are hung in the stairwell of the old courthouse destined to house the state Legislature in 2008 and 2009.

Shoshone-Bannock, Shoshone-Paiute, Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene representatives spent 25 minutes inside the vacant Ada County Courthouse.

There are 26 murals in all, including two depicting a buckskin-clad Indian as he's apprehended by two white men who lay a noose over his neck.

None of the Indians who viewed the murals, painted in 1940 as part of a program to put unemployed artists to work, wanted them destroyed or concealed with paint.

Most suggested they be preserved -- as a reminder of history and what happened to the Indians.

Some say the murals are lousy examples of public American art, but local Idaho historians say they should stay where they are.

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