Prairie Edge replaces controversial statue
The new statue, depicting an older Lakota woman placing a sacred eagle plume onto a younger woman, replaces "He is, they are" by Glenna Goodacre. The bronze statue of a Native man with his hands tied behind his back reflected the artist's feeling that when Native Americans were put on reservations, they would never be able to live according their heritage.
"Some people in the area Native American community felt this statue was degrading to Native Americans. We regret that," Prairie Edge owner Ray Hillenbrand said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
Hillenbrand and Prairie Edge general manager Dan Tribby said they are proud of the new statue, which they said reflects the warmth in Lakota families, the wisdom of a Lakota elder and the teaching of the Lakota heritage to the next generation.
The new statue, "Hunkayapi," or "Tying on the Eagle Plume," was created by Dale Lamphere of Sturgis.
The old statue's message, that
Yes, viewers may feel sad for the plight of the Indian. Or they may feel glad that the savage Indian is no longer a menace to society. Without more clues from the statue itself, the message is ambiguous at best.
If the captive Indian were accompanied by evil-looking white men, then we might feel sorry for him. But a captive Indian standing alone doesn't necessarily convey the same feeling.
Then there's the fact that the Indian is half-naked and looks generic. Is this supposed to say something about the nobility and worth of Plains Indians? If so, it's a failure. To me it says Indians were savages who (perhaps) got what they deserved.
For more on Native monuments, see King Philip Sculpted Unstereotypically and Generic Statue Represents Ghostly Kickapoo.
Below: "Gerard Baker, superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Monument, speaks Tuesday morning during a ceremony to unveil a new statue at the corner of Sixth and Main streets in front of Prairie Edge." (Kristina Barker, Journal staff)