In 1913, President Wlliam Howard Taft joined a delegation of 32 Indian chiefs and other dignitaries for a groundbreaking ceremony that saw the chief executive digging up dirt with an ancient axe-head made from a buffalo bone. Following a flag-raising, the chiefs then signed a “Declaration of Allegiance to the United States.”
The statue was never built, but according to a story at SILive.com, a Native couple who live on Staten Island are trying to make it happen. The statue was a sort of premature memorial—“to honor what was thought to be a vanishing race,” says Margie Boldeagle. “Now it’s taken on a different light. It would show that we are still here.”
Boldeagle and her husband, Robert, are not proposing anything like the colossus planned a century ago. They would like to see a 25-foot statue built on the fort grounds. They say they have a sculptor and donors for the million-dollar project lined up. The National Parks Service (NPS), which has maintained the fort since it was closed in 1994, won’t allow the Boldeagles’ project, arguing that the 1911 declaration issued by Congress authorized the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy—not the NPS—to construct the monument.
For more on Native monuments, see Mixed Feelings About Crazy Horse Memorial and Memorial Sought for Mankato 38.