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“Dignity of Earth and Sky” statue looks to further its cause

The statue is getting some notable upgrades, both on the grounds around it and online.
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 6:27 PM CST
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CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Dignity of Earth and Sky Statue is one of South Dakota’s most important and recognizable monuments.

Now, the men and women behind the creation wants to make sure its legacy and what it stands for, continues to grow.

“We wanted to slowly and thoughtfully develop a revenue stream that can help improve the site,” said Dignity’s sculptor Dale Lamphere. “(And) also assist the native communities throughout the state in their creative efforts.”

“We hope local artisans, businesses, and leaders can draw on the presence of Dignity of Earth and Sky in their community as a touchstone to improve small business, employ individuals, and bring people together”, said Dignity Initiative Director Jane Murphy.

The statue’s presence in Chamberlain has benefited the community from both a cultural and tourism standpoint. However, Lamphere and others at The Dignity Initiative hope to further the cultural benefit for all involved.

“Trying to also establish a kind of art market for native goods, and to get this thing started we worked with several people and came up with some things,” Lamphere said. “(Those) things are true to the image of Dignity and have some character and quality to them.”

“Our objective is to help build a larger online market for local and native made quilts, jewelry and art. Future ideas include creating an annual Spring Quilt Buyers’ Market, an event held for retail outlets and individuals to appreciate and purchase quilts, jewelry and art,” Murphy said.

Janene Wingert and her store Simply Home Boutique in Chamberlain were one of the first involved in selling merchandise directly affiliated with The Dignity Initiative. She says that the statue, and the merchandise, represent Chamberlain and the indigenous community well, two communities deeply intertwined.

“It represents Chamberlain well because Chamberlain is Native American,” Wingert said. “It is just a beautiful representation of the people that lived here, and still do.”

The Dignity Initiative is telling people not just to look out for those improvements to merchandise, but also to improvements around the statue in the near future as well. One of those improvements includes plans to install permanent educational interpretive panels at the site, providing information about the Lakota and Dakota peoples and culture.

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