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September 15, 2016 06:06 PM

'Dignity' Statue A Gift To The People Of South Dakota

Chamberlain, SD

The next time you drive on Interstate 90 by Chamberlain, look toward the rest stop and you'll see South Dakota's newest landmark, a 50-foot statue named "Dignity."

"This is a work that will be a gift to all the people of South Dakota," Black Hills artist Dale Lamphere said.  

Lamphere is still cutting the final pieces of his 12-ton creation made entirely of stainless steel.  

"The title of this piece is Dignity.  It represents the pride and strength and durability of the native cultures here," Lamphere said.

Lamphere spent years researching the project. He says Dignity's face is not based on one person.

"I had three different Lakota models, different ages, 14, 29 and 55 and I borrowed features from each of them and tried to get a look that was truly native," Lamphere said.

Another authentic native touch is the star quilt behind Dignity.

"The star quilt is represented in this piece is very meaningful in the Lakota and Dakota cultures.  When a baby is born, they're wrapped in a star quilt because they came down from the stars so to speak. That's what people will see as the drive by on Interstate 90, just as they drop into the Missouri River basin, they'll see the star quilt right on the edge of the horizon," Lamphere said.

There's LED lighting in the statue, so you'll want to view it at night as well.  The people viewing it on Thursday took a lot of pictures to prove they were there when Dignity went up.

"Breathtakingly beautiful. It is majestic, it's just another one of South Dakota's amazing sculptures," Jill Kjeserstad from Rapid City said.

That's music to the ears of the artist who hopes his sculpture inspires people.

"We certainly hope that it becomes a symbol of better relationships among all cultures here in the region," Lamphere said.

A Black Hills philanthropist commissioned and donated the sculpture.  

Lamphere will greet the public at an installation reception at the monument on Saturday, September 17 starting at 11:30 a.m.

The public is welcome. 

The artist's next big project is the Arc of Dreams that will span the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls.
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