Dignity – A Tribute to the Native American Woman

Chamberlain, South Dakota.

“Her name is Dignity. The Native American woman stands some 50-feet (15 m) tall. Sculpted of stainless steel, ‘Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota,’ according to artist Dale Lamphere who used three models of Lakota Native Americans to create the face.”

That’s how I started the Cellpic Sunday post on 15 July, 2018. On the day of that visit, I only had my cell phone available and the single image capture along with a more detailed description can be found here. Given the weather, a cold and blustery November day, I chose to return to the site with my D500 Nikon on a summer’s day. I even brought my drone along to try to get an aerial view. Given there were many visitors that day and FAA regulations forbidding the flight of drones over people who are not involved in the flight activities, the drone, unfortunately, stayed safely tucked away in my car. There would only be ground based images of the beautiful piece of art and the park surrounding her.

Dignity’s quilt, composed of 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes that flutter in the wind and glitter in the sun. At night, LED lights cause the diamonds to glow. The diamonds, in the shape of a giant star, represent respect, honor, and admiration.

Dignity’s dress is a representation of Native wear in the 1850’s. The Statue is a gift to the people of South Dakota from Norm and Eunabel McKie of Rapid City. The statue was completed in 2016 and opened to the public at the Chamberlain (SD) Rest Area between exits 263 and 265 on Interstate 90 that bisects South Dakota between Rapid City and Sioux Falls. When traveling the Interstate across the Mount Rushmore State, the rest stop is a welcome break that is about half-way between the state’s two largest communities.

Visitors to the rest area can walk a few trails that provide views of the area. We took a walk on a couple of the short trails. The Dignity statue and the Chamberlain Rest Area overlook the Missouri River, the longest river in North America as it flows by the cities of Oacoma and Chamberlain. Three bridges span the river here. The iconic railroad bridge visible from the rest area was built in 1953. The Chamberlain Railroad Bridge was the longest bridge on the Milwaukee Road system, about 4600 feet (1400 m) in length. The bridge now belongs to the State of South Dakota in hopes of some day providing a tourist based rail service. That hasn’t happened, but there is some occasional hobby uses of the structure. Railroad buffs may enjoy reading a post about the bridge here.

Just west of the town of Chamberlain is a historic bridge that connects the cities of Chamberlain and Oacoma. It is actually the combination of two bridges moved into place in the 1950s when the Missouri River was dammed and created Lake Francis Case necessitating a longer bridge to reconnect the two cities. The Chamberlain Bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The third bridge that crosses the river here, about a mile south of the Chamberlain Bridge is the modern Interstate bridge that carries I-90 traffic.

 

I leave you with the image of the plaque mounted at the base of the statue and the words of Gov. Dennis Daugaard at the dedication, “This gift will mean a lot to South Dakota. In addition to being the state of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, South Dakota will also be the state of the Dignity statue.”

John Steiner

 

9 thoughts on “Dignity – A Tribute to the Native American Woman

  1. What an inspirational statue! Once again my hat is off to you as I learned about this slice of Americana that I’ve never heard of before… Thanks as usual for your guide to the world!

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