Sculptor Dale Lamphere Honors Native People of South Dakota
Dignity Stainless Steel Sculpture Stands 50 Feet Tall
Clearly visible from Interstate 90 near Chamberlain, South Dakota, an impressive woman watches over her people, as well as travelers who are drawn to pull over and take a closer look.
Dignity is a sculpture created by artist Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.
“Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota,” Lamphere said.
Her dress is designed after a two-hide dress of the 1850s. The star quilt she holds shimmers with blue during the day and night. Pieces in the quilt catch and spin in the wind, allowing the colors to shift and gleam in the sunlight and in the light of the LED lights during the night hours. The wind also moves through perforations in her dress.
Beautiful and Practical Blend in this Stainless Steel Sculpture
Not only does this add to the beauty of the piece, it serves a practical function as well. By having areas that allow the wind to pass through, the monumental stainless steel sculpture has less wind resistance and can therefore stand the test of time in the windy plains.
“I seek to express the strength and grace of the human spirit using timeless design, contemporary materials and innovative techniques. We worked with an engineering firm and native advisors for months to be certain the work was structurally sound and culturally appropriate.
In the summer of 2015 we began production of the full-scale sculpture starting with the support structure and the star quilt. It’s exciting and challenging for the team to work on this scale.”
– Dale Claude Lamphere
3 Native Americans served as models for Dignity.
The works was commissioned by Norm and Eunabel McKie of Rapid City. Norm is a South Dakota native son. They donated the piece to all the people of South Dakota in celebration of the state’s 125th anniversary. The installation celebration in Chamberlain was held on September 17, 2016.
“This gift will mean a lot to South Dakota,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “In addition to being the state of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, South Dakota will also be the state of the Dignity statue.”
Another speaker at the installation celebrations was State Sen. Troy Heinert, of Mission, SD who is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
“With the country more divided than ever, according to Heinert, he said “Dignity” will serve as a reminder for those who visit to return to the time when life was lived with humility, respect, compassion, and of course, dignity.”
“Heinert said much of the old way of life has been erased by government policies and racism, and he hoped “Dignity” would serve as a way to bring South Dakotans together in a polarizing political climate.”
The stainless steel sculpture has a central armature that bears the weight of the work. The quilt along consists of more than 128 diamonds–each 4′ long.
Dale Lamphere is a prolific sculptor who lives in South Dakota. In 2015 by order of Governor Dennis Daugaard, Lamphere was named South Dakota Artist Laureate.
In Dale’s words
“Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota cultures in South Dakota. My intent is to have the sculpture stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred, and in a sacred place. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.”
That hope, and that of State Sen. Troy Heinert, seems to be working.
Attracting visitors from across the country and around the world, all seem enamored by her presence. Whether they purposefully came down the interstate to find Dignity, or they happened across her, all seem moved by her message as they share the peaceful view of the Missouri River and the Plains below.
To read more about Dignity please visit Travel South Dakota and the Grand Forks Herald.
South Dakota is home to many notable monumental sculptures including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, and now Dignity.
Learn more about the South Dakota Sculpture Trail which contains hundreds of sculptures across the state.