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Native American princess statue is back in Tampa Heights as namesake restaurant reopens

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Posted at 7:39 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 19:39:07-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The bronze sculpture in front of the Ulele Restaurant in Tampa Heights commemorates Native American Princess Ulele. Princess Ulele is known for courageously saving a young Spanish sailor from being burned in the 1500s.

"She will be here and we will tell stories of the compassion of that princess," said Richard Gonzmart, owner of the statue and the restaurant.

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But not even a year after the statue went up, it came down.

In December 2018, the restaurant moved the statue to a warehouse after the city claimed it didn't have the proper permits to be on city property.

After getting proper permitting, Gonzmart had the statue reinstalled on Wednesday. 

"I’m here to try to preserve history, respect history. Respect those who sometimes weren’t respected," said Gonzmart.

"Being honored like this puts us in the history books. Because a lot of our students still recognized us as gone, that there are no more Native Americans, but today we still exist," said Herbert Jim, representative of the Seminole tribe.

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The reinstatement of the statue is in co-celebration of the reopening of the Ulele restaurant, which has been closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are capturing back our freedom to be able to dine out and celebrate all that life offers with friends and family," said Gonzmart.