Dignity – A way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness or self-control. The quality of being worthy of honor or self-respect. – Merriam Webster Dictionary
She stands tall overlooking the Missouri River valley at Chamberlain, and just about everyone in the state now knows her name: Dignity.
Commissioned by Norm and Eunabel McKie and created by artist Dale Lamphere, the 50-foot metal sculpture won universal praise at its recent unveiling.
The work, in Lamphere’s words, “represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.”
The McKies presented Dignity as a 125th birthday gift to the people of South Dakota.
Driving west on Interstate 90 down toward the Missouri River, or heading east up from the river breaks, Dignity’s presence at the visitor center is sure to be a magnet for travelers. But to see her face and realize the full impact of the work, a stop is mandatory; you can’t appreciate the art, or the message, from I-90.
Lamphere, of Sturgis, said she faced south, away from I-90, because “you always need a southern exposure. If she faced toward the interstate, she would always be in shadow.” What travelers see from the highway is the star blanket, which in itself is remarkable with its sparkling diamonds, moving in the wind.
McKie, of Rapid City, said the location on the bluff was his first choice, in part because of the beauty of the setting, and also because of exposure. Average daily traffic is about 3,500 vehicles per day in each direction and in 2015, 121,690 vehicles visited the rest area, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Nor was there any doubt about the name for the sculpture.
“I spent some time considering different names,” McKie said, “but after I settled on it for the name, it was kind of the end. I am very satisfied with the name. It is self-explanatory. It pretty well describes what she is all about. You could look it up in the dictionary, that’s what I did. I did that kind of homework.”
Asked why the sculpture with an American Indian theme was chosen as a million dollar birthday gift to the state, McKie would only say that “this is a pay-back deal. South Dakota has been good for us and we wanted to do a little something.”
Sept. 28, 2016