Dignity — the Perseverance of Dakotan Culture

A fantastic display of artistry and kindness, the 50-foot dignity sculpture graces the area between exits 263 and 265 on Interstate 90. For some, that might be remote, but for visitors, it provides a perfect chance to drop by.

The sculpture was modeled after a teen, adolescent, and elderly Native American model and created by Dale Lamphere. Some might wonder why we speak of the statue since words can hardly do it justice, but we’ll give it our best.

The sheer size and attention to detail of the sculpture is the first thing to catch anybody’s eye. The realistic face and traditional 1850s dress are not only beautiful but respectful of the Lakota and Dakota culture.

But it has a crowning jewel that ascends it beyond the levels of just a sculpture. Namely, it holds a quilt stretched beyond its back. The quilt is decorated by blue diamond-shaped stainless steel pieces. The truly astonishing part is that these decorations flutter in the wind and glister in the sunlight.

At nighttime, however, they are no less impressive. LED lights surrounding the statue shine upon the diamonds, which, in turn, light up, providing a satisfying glow. The light is visible even from the interstate, shining like a beacon of hope.

Anyone in South Dakota should be grateful to Norm and Eunabel McKie, who funded the statue. It was a gift for the 125th statehood anniversary, and quite a generous one, considering it cost $1 million. However, the generous couple says it was well worth it, and we couldn’t agree more.

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