Dignity is a sculpture on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota. The 50-foot high stainless steel statue, by South Dakota artist laureate Dale Lamphere, depicts an Indigenous woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. According to Lamphere, the sculpture honors the culture of the Lakota and Dakota peoples who are indigenous to South Dakota.
Assisting Lamphere were sculptors Jim Maher, Andy Roltgen, and Grant Standard. Automotive paint expert Brook Loobey assisted with the colors for the quilt, and Albertson Engineering of Rapid City, SD ensured the sculpture would endure the strong winds common in the area.
Norm and Eunabel McKie of Rapid City, South Dakota announced their gift of Dignity to the State of South Dakota in 2014, in honor of the 125th anniversary of South Dakota statehood. It was erected in September 2016 at a site near Interstate 90, where it overlooks the river.
The statue measures 50 feet (15.24m) high, 16 (4.88m) feet deep and 32 feet (9.75m) wide. The star quilt held by the woman has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move with the wind, and described by the artist as moving “like an Aspen leaf”.
Three Native American women from Rapid City, SD were used as models for Lamphere’s sculpture. The artist began by first drawing the form and then sculpting a one-eighth-scale model. The sculpture was created in an isolated area near the Cheyenne River, east of Rapid City, SD, and later moved to the installation site.
The statue boldly proclaims that South Dakota’s Native cultures are alive, standing with dignity.
Beginning July 1 2017 South Dakota residents will be able to purchase auto license plates bearing the likeness of Dignity. The plates were designed with the help of the statue’s artist, Dale Lamphere.
When interviewed nearly a year after the dedication, Lamphere said “It’s been well received by the Native community, and by visitors from all over the country. My hope over time is it really gets people to think about the beauty of the native cultures.”
His plan is to put the name of every federally recognized tribe on a stainless steel band around the base of the statue. Lamphere said, “..I wanted something that would really honor the indigenous people of the Great Plains and I kept that in mind all the time. I made the work reflect the name that it has of “Dignity, and I think that’s part of what makes it work so well.”
Click to WATCH: New 50ft Statue “Dignity” That Just Went Up In South Dakota