By Bill Kemp
The idea for such a statue came from local resident and ardent spiritualist Simeon H. West, and he foot the bill to purchase, ship and install the pre-cast metal Native American and its elaborate pedestal. West claimed that on more than one occasion he communed with a deceased Kickapoo named Wausaneta, and he erected this statue as a tribute to the chief and his people.
Today, one can find “No. 53 Indian Chief” scattered across the nation and beyond, including Cincinnati, Ohio (where it’s named for Native American leader Tecumseh, a Shawnee); Calhoun, Ga. (this one carries the name Sequoyah, a famous Cherokee); Ishpeming, Mich. (“Old Ish,” an Ojibwe); Schenectady, N.Y. (a Mohawk called “Lawrence”); and even Cusco, Peru.
Obviously, the Kickapoo, Shawnee, Cherokee, Ojibwe, and Mohawk tribes aren't the same thing. That people would assume a generic statue is good enough shows our stereotyping thinking toward Indians. It proves that we know little or nothing about the huge diversity of tribes across the land.
At least the statue isn't of a Plains chief. That really would be insulting.
The Indian appears to be wearing buckskins and a cloak over his bare chest. He looks more like a traveler than a warrior or chief. As art, therefore, "No. 53 Indian Chief" fails because it's blandly generic, not because it's terribly stereotypical.
For more on the subject, see Generic Oh Great Spirit Statue and Is The American Worth It?