July 03, 2010

Peace park proposed for Zion

Statues of chiefs and peace park envisioned near Zion

By Estar HolmesA peace park featuring a collection of sculptures that represent a grand council of famous chiefs from across Indian country is envisioned near Zion National Park by Four Winds, a group working to bring the idea to reality. The park is to serve as a center of Native wisdom and cross-cultural healing.

“The peace park is a way to gather people and open the doors to communication,” said Lakota John, an energetic visionary of Minneconjou, Cheyenne, Choctaw, and Pueblo, ancestry, who currently lives in southwestern Utah, where he offers the Sacred Path, a recovery program for Native youth and adults.
And:“This has never been done in the history of mankind,” Lakota John said. “If all tribes come together and share their experience, faith, and hope, we can finish what Wovoka started.”

The reference is to the Paiute prophet who lived in the area in the late 1800s and spread a message of peace and honorable living, and what came to be known as the Ghost Dance religion, after the Creator gave him visions of the end times that revealed the red race would inherit the earth. Given the park’s location on Paiute ancestral land and Wovoka’s resurrection message, Lakota John envisions his as the first Grand Council statue to be created.
Comment:  Longtime readers know I visited Zion National Park briefly in 2007. There wasn't much of an Indian presence there--perhaps because Indians didn't permanently inhabit the canyon.

The statues sound like a good idea. But I'd concentrate on Wovoka and other "chiefs" from nearby tribes first...chiefs from Western states second...and chiefs from elsewhere in the US a distant third. Otherwise you risk replicating the Massasoit statue problem--the notion that all Indians are the same and interchangeable.

For photographs of my visit to Zion, see Colorado Trip Pix--Day 1 and Colorado Trip Pix--Day 2. For more on Zion, see Indians in The Empire of Grandeur and Review of Burns's National Parks. For more on the Massasoit statue, see Rob vs. Curator on Massasoit Statue and Defending Cyrus Dallin.

Below:  "Bronze statues of Indian chiefs like this one by Utah artist Jerry Anderson are planned for a peace park near Zion National Park in Utah." (Jerry Anderson)

Nice statue, but I hope the chiefs won't all be half-naked. I believe Wovoka mostly wore Western clothes, for instance.

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