July 18, 2010

Black Hawk statue = mishmash of tribes

Taft’s ‘Black Hawk’ sculpture marks 100th year on river bluff

By Theo Jean KenyonHe’s been looking westward, towering above the Rock River, for the past century, but Lorado Taft’s monumental Indian near Oregon, Ill., only recently was designated an Illinois landmark.And:While it has usually been referred to as “Black Hawk,” the leader of a regional band of the Sac-Fox tribe remembered for the Black Hawk War of 1832, Taft neither named it or intended it as a representation of Black Hawk.

He referred to the monument as “the Indian” or “the colossus” calling it a composite of the Foxes, the Sacs, the Sioux and the Mohawks.
Comment:  I like the idea of this statue, but the execution is mundane. The figure is a generic Indian in braids and an abstract robe or blanket. His features look Western to me; he could be George Washington or Thomas Jefferson in a wig.

Taft's explanation of the statue's appearance is the real problem. As far as I know, the Sac and Fox, Sioux, and Mohawk people have nothing in common. They're three distinct groups from three parts of the country. You might as well say something is a combination of Irish, Italian, and Russian--three Caucasian groups who also have little or nothing in common.

And again, the statue resemble anything except a stereotypical Indian. It certainly doesn't look much like Black Hawk. Taft would've been better off sculpting Black Hawk or another historical figure from the region. The statue's concept and placement work, but the actual sculpture fails.

For more on Black Hawk, see "Authentic" Chief from "Blackhawks" Tribe and Blackhawks Know Nothing About Black Hawk. For more on Native statues, see Peace Park Proposed for Zion, Replacing Chief Bemidji Statue, and Stereotypical Massasoit Statue Returns.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:


Black Hawk statue test results coming soon

Results might arrive next week; restoration to begin when weather warms

The statue has developed cracks, and large pieces of its concrete surface have dislodged. The folded arms of the 50-foot monolith have been especially affected.

The cost for the assessment and repairs was estimated at $625,000. Much of that money has been raised.