On September 17, South Dakotans of all cultures from across the state gathered in Chamberlain with Governor Daugaard, sculptor Dale Lamphere and the family of Norm and Eunabel McKie to dedicate our state’s newest monumental sculpture, the 50 foot tall image of a Native American woman. Called Dignity by her creator, South Dakota Artist Laureate Lamphere, the stainless steel work of art towers above I-90 on the Missouri River bluff that is home to the Chamberlain traveler’s information center.
A representation of a Lakota woman wrapping a star quilt around her, Dignity speaks to the heart of Native traditions. The sculpture is a symbol of South Dakota’s cultural hearthstone and links past and present in its subject matter and its 21st century engineering and materials. More importantly, the work links our vastly diverse ethnic cultures here on the prairie. Dignity gives us the opportunity to honor the Native heritage of our state, while recognizing all of those who built a new life between the vast sea of grass and the soaring Black Hills.
The dedication ceremony also told another story. I saw Lakota youth in their powwow regalia staring up at Dignity with pride and a sense of awe. Veterans saw the values they fought to protect in the towering strength of Dignity. Governor Daugaard spoke for all South Dakotans, including Dignity with Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse as icons of our state. These epic artworks are destinations for visitors and sources of pride for South Dakota residents.
That is the power of the arts. People of all ages from all cultures can see something vital, something important, something South Dakotan, in this soaring sculpture on its bluff near Chamberlain. As a work of art, Dignity has both strength and grace. As a symbol of our united heritage, it has the ability to move each of us. And that is what creativity is all about.
To learn more about Dignity, go to www.lampherestudio.com/dignity. For more about the arts in South Dakota, visit www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.