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Prairie Edge replaces controversial statue
Gerard Baker, superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Monument, speaks Tuesday morning during a ceremony to unveil a new statue at the corner of Sixth and Main streets in front of Prairie Edge. (Kristina Barker, Journal staff)

Owners of Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries in Rapid City on Tuesday morning unveiled a new statue, replacing one that had been controversial for its symbolic depiction of Native Americans.

The new statue, depicting an older Lakota woman placing a sacred eagle plume onto a younger woman, replaces "He is, they are" by Glenna Goodacre. The bronze statue of a Native man with his hands tied behind his back reflected the artist's feeling that when Native Americans were put on reservations, they would never be able to live according their heritage.

"Some people in the area Native American community felt this statue was degrading to Native Americans. We regret that," Prairie Edge owner Ray Hillenbrand said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Hillenbrand and Prairie Edge general manager Dan Tribby said they are proud of the new statue, which they said reflects the warmth in Lakota families, the wisdom of a Lakota elder and the teaching of the Lakota heritage to the next generation.

The new statue, "Hunkayapi," or "Tying on the Eagle Plume," was created by Dale Lamphere of Sturgis.

"Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of creating this sculpture for Prairie Edge and the people of this area," Lamphere said in a prepared statement. He said the work depicts a Lakota naming ceremony, in which the ancestry of each person is remembered, a new name is given, and future relations are celebrated.

"My hope is that this sculpture portrays the wisdom, dignity and pride that Native people carry forward through their traditions and ceremonies," he said.

Wendell Yellow Bull and Wayne Weston of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation's Akicita Institue released a statement in support of the new statue.

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They said the artist honored the foundation of society: a woman "making a relative and receiving a Lakota name."

The statue, they said, signifies the promise of life and prosperity for Natives.

"We of the Akicita Institute give sculptor Dale Lamphere and Prairie Edge our blessing on how this statue represents one of our timeless cultural ceremonies and thank them for its creation and public display," they said.

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