Dignity sculpture nears completion

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SCENIC, S.D. (KOTA TV) A sweeping sculpture slated for installation this month on the banks of the Missouri River is nearing completion under the guidance of artist Dale Lamphere.

And that has the KOTA Territory couple who dreamed up the idea excited.

“The state South Dakota's been good to us,” said Eunabel McKie. “So we felt like now is the time to do this.”

Eunabel and Norm McKie are donating the large sculpture to the state. It will go along Interstate 90 in Chamberlain.

“This is our way of giving thanks for the privilege of living here,” said Norm Mckie whose great-grand father came to South Dakota by covered wagon two years after the territory gained statehood. “It's been great.”

The sculpture depicts a young Native American woman receiving a Star Quilt, a high honor among plains Indians.

The work is taking shape on a ranch near Scenic under the watchful eye of Lamphere. It will be transported to Chamberlain in about a week.

“She's taking on a personality,” said Eunabel. “I find her very heartwarming. Dale has just done wonders with his ability. She really feels like she's going to be real.”

And serve a purpose.

“The sculpture dignity has three jobs to do,” said Norm. “One, is to inspire people to get more out of their lives and, two, is to combat rampant suicides.”

McKie was referring to a 2015 rash of suicides among Native American youth that cast a pall over KOTA Territory. “And, three, this sculpture will bring tourist money to the state.”

The stainless steel piece is the largest work Lamphere, the state's Artist laureate, has ever built. It stands 50 feet tall with a span of 32 feet. All together it weighs more than 11 tons.

And she comes with a message from the McKies.

“Thank you South Dakota, you've been good to us,” said Eunabel. “We've had a great time in South Dakota we've had raised our family in South Dakota and it was a good place to raise them. We've been blessed we've been blessed.”

The piece will be dedicated and officially donated to the state on Sept. 17 in Chamberlain. The public is invited to the dedication ceremony.