Still working hard on my new book, titled Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions.
Writing a book is always a challenge. It takes time to do it correctly and, unfortunately, I have had numerous other things tugging at my time over the past few months, which has put my release date later and later.
Well, I want you all to know that I am working diligently on the book and have a number of chapters completed. When finished, this book will be well over 200 pages and chock full of color photos of some of America’s offbeat roadside attractions.
I love having the opportunity to come upon new and unplanned discoveries in my roadtrips. While traveling, I constantly check my Roadside America app (which is available for iPhone download here) which has a handy dandy location finder and will tell you the closest of their featured attractions. While driving through South Dakota near Chamberlain, I did so and came across “Dignity: A 50 foot-tall Indian Woman” statue entry. Turns out it is located at a rest area near Chamberlain, SD overlooking the Missouri River valley way below. It was also a Lewis and Clark stopover.
Dignity (a.k.a. Dignity of Earth & Sky) is a 50-foot high stainless steel statue by South Dakota artist Dale Lamphere that depicts an indigenous woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. The massive sculpture honors the culture of the Lakota and Dakota peoples who are indigenous to South Dakota. Lamphere notes on his website:
“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.”
I am always interested in things about the various Native American tribes. Having worked as a tour guide in Arizona, I became somewhat expert on the Navajo and Hopi as well as the old Anasazi cultures. My travels across the United States and Canada have allowed me to pass through many Native American reservations and lands. In these travels I have come across many large statues dedicated to these great indigenous peoples (such as the Hiawatha statue in Ironwood, MI – which stands 52 feet tall and the Standing Brave statue in Big Cabin, OK – which is also nearly 50 feet tall). And of course, in an earlier post on my April road trip, I mentioned the “Whispering Giants” series by Peter Toth, of which I have seen more than a dozen. And there are the Blackfeet Warrior metal sculptures that are at all four entries to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. The 44 foot tall Keeper of the Plains in Wichita, Kansas is another good one. I believe the tallest Native American statue is the 62 foot tall Indian of Skowhegan in Skowhegan, Maine, which I have not visited.
Back to Dignity – Representing the rich Native American culture of South Dakota, the 50-foot Native American woman wears a dress that is patterned after a two-hide Lakota or Dakota dress of the 1850s. She also holds a quilt that has 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes designed to flutter in the wind. Apparently, the quilt was also bedecked with LED lights that cause the diamond shapes to glow in the night sky which can be seen from Interstate 90 (which I would have loved to have seen). The quilt is very impressive as you can see in the photo on the left as well as the expanded one below.
Dignity is not only 50 feet tall, but her base is 16 feet deep (to help withstand the strong South Dakota winds on this bluff) and is 32 feet wide. The statue weighs in at nearly 11 tons and cost over $1 million dollars to make. The money was kindly donated by a couple from nearby Rapid City, South Dakota. The statue was officially dedicated in September 2016. It is truly a sight to see and I was so glad to have been on this highway.
At 50 feet tall, the statue is one of the 25 tallest statues in the United States. I have been to 13 of the 25 including #2 – Statue of Liberty in NYC (151 ft tall); #4 – Our Lady of the Rockies in Butte, MT (88.6 ft. tall); Tuo Phat Quan Am in Houston, TX (72 ft. tall); Brachiosauraus in Indianapolis, IN (70 ft. tall); Giraffe at Dallas Zoo, Dallas, TX (67.6 ft tall); A Tribute to Courage – Sam Houston in Huntsville, TX (67 ft. tall); Christ of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR (65.5 ft. tall); Stephen F. Austin in Angleton, TX (60 ft. tall); Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI (52 ft. tall); Standing Tall in Big Cabin, OK (50 ft. tall); Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN (49.2 ft. tall); Hammering Man in Seattle, WA (48 ft. tall); and The Keeper of the Plains in Wichita, KS (44 ft. tall).
The view from Dignity is impressive as it overlooks the Missouri River valley down below. This was also a Lewis and Clark observation point.
Finally, I would like to note that South Dakota is proud of its tourism and especially its numerous sculptures which would include the famed Mt. Rushmore, the giant Crazy Horse statue still under construction and the giant brontosauraus at Wall Drug. They have a website especially focused on the sculptures of South Dakota called the South Dakota Sculpture Trail.
In closing, I want to note that in my upcoming book (hopefully to be released at the end of June), I will have a complete chapter on Native American statues and art.
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
I have posted about the Trail of the Whispering Giants in earlier posts, but my April 2018 trip afforded me the opportunity to double my visits from the past as I was able to create a route that let me hit six more of them as I traveled west to Washington and then back. In this post I will feature the new ones I visited, but will also include a brief view of the others I have visited in past years.
Peter “Wolf” Toth, a Hungarian-born sculptor now living in the United States, began creating a series of wooden sculptures to honor Native Americans and placed them in almost all 50 of the US States and some in Canada as well. He called these collectively the “Trail of the Whispering Giants.” His first one was built in La Jolla, California in 1972. The second of them was created and placed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. By 1988 he had created 58 Whispering Giants with at least one in every U.S. state, though some have disappeared since. Each of the creations are numbered in the order Peter Toth created and placed them.
My goal in my travels has been to try to route my trips such that I can visit as many of these as possible. Doing a cross country road trip on back roads facilitates this opportunity fairly well, as long as I don’t have to go too far out of my way or weather doesn’t stop me. I planned on eight visits on this trip and made six. Two of the statues are no longer in existence, both apparently victims of bad weather.
There are instances where Mr. Toth has gone back and replaced them and/or repaired damaged ones. But some don’t get replaced or, at least have not yet been to this point.
#61 – Ho-Ma-Sjah-Nah-Zhee-Ga – Allen Park, Ottawa, Illinois
My first stop on the trip was in a park along the Illinois River near Ottawa, IL. This was created in May 1989 and stands 13 feet tall.
#62 – Chief Walks with the Wind – Starved Rock State Park near Utica, IL
Just a short drive from Ottawa is the lovely Starved Rock State Park, near Utica, Illinois. Apparently, Mr. Toth likes this area as he put up three of his Whispering Giants in close proximity to each other. The “Chief Walks With the Wind” stands 20 feet tall and sits in front of the State Park visitor center. A drive around the state park shows off a number of other impressive wood carvings by other artists.
#16 – Hopewell Giant – Village of Hopewell, Illinois
The Hopewell Giant is the 16th sculpture that Mr. Toth created. It was put up in October 1975. It sits up on a bluff at the entrance of the Village of Hopewell. This statue is about 30 feet tall and overlooks the Illinois River valley below. Apparently the Hopewell Indian Nation lived along the Illinois River nearly 3000 years ago.
#68 – Veteran’s Memorial – Iowa Falls, Iowa
The Whispering Giant of Iowa Falls, Iowa doesn’t seem to have a name. As well, the current statue, which is #68 on the list was put up in 1999 to replace #28. This one is 30 feet tall. Unfortunately, it was snowing in Iowa Falls when I arrived and there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Needless to say, I didn’t trudge through the snow to get a selfie with this one.
#57 – Ikala Nawan – Astoria, Oregon
On my return trip home, I had planned on visiting the Whispering Giants in Victoria, WA, Astoria, OR and Hillsboro, OR. Unfortunately, the only one of the three remaining is the Astoria Giant, named Ikala Nawan. This 18 foot tall cedar giant sits in a narrow strip of park off of US Highway 101 in the lovely town of Astoria.
#52 – Chief Wasatch – Murray Park, Murray, UT
By mid-April I was in my old stomping grounds of Murray, UT. I gradated high school in Murray and spent many a day in Murray Park playing church softball. At that time, Chief Wasatch was not set up. Peter Toth created this guy in November 1985 right at the entrance to Murray Park, overlooking State Street, the main drag through town. It was nice visiting the park after a more than 40 year hiatus. Chief Wasatch is 23 feet tall and made of cottonwood, one of the most common trees in the area.
And thus completes my report of the six Whispering Giants I visited during my trip in April. Following are photos I have taken of others in my past travels. Their number and location is in the photo caption.
#32 – Red Lodge, Montana
#37 – Idaho Falls, Idaho
#21 – Ocean City, Maryland
#69 – Bethany Beach, Delaware (replaced #22)
#50 – Paducah, Kentucky
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late May or early June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.