By Len Wilcox
A new statue overlooks the Missouri River in the central part of South Dakota. Called Dignity, it’s a 50-foot tall image of a Native American woman and is made of stainless steel and glass. It is a magnificent work of art, designed by Dale Lamphere and erected in September 2016. It was funded by a South Dakota businessman named Norm McKie.
The artist believes that Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota cultures in South Dakota. He said his intent is to have the sculpture stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred, and we are in a sacred place. His hope is that the sculpture will serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.
Dignity joins Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Minuteman Missile historic site as one of the many reasons that history buffs need to go to South Dakota. Few states have created such overwhelming salutes to the people of our past. Dale Claude Lamphere is Dignity’s creator. He is the Artist Laureate of South Dakota, and has more than 60 works on display in Chicago, Kansas City, Colorado Springs, Omaha, and Dallas.
When he was designing Dignity, Lamphere said he wanted something that would honor the indigenous people of the Great Plains. The Native American woman in Plains Indian clothing is holding a star quilt behind her back. According to Lamphere’s research, wearing a star quilt is a traditional coat of honor. It is here to honor the Native community of South Dakota.
Lamphere says he wanted to express the strength and grace of the human spirit using timeless design, contemporary materials and innovative techniques. He worked with an engineering firm and native advisors for months to be certain the work was structurally sound and culturally appropriate.
Dignity is located in a rest stop along Interstate Highway 90 near the town of Chamberlain, in central South Dakota. Seeing this magnificent statue is going to be high on the list of anyone who honors the past and loves history.