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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 6, 2001 - Issue 46


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Bringing it all Together


 by Max Nichols Special Correspondent-News OK-September 30, 2001

When Enoch Kelly Haney was about 5 or 6 years old in Seminole, he made a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln out of the red clay and gravel on the road in front of his house.

"I must have heard something about him," said Haney, a longtime state senator with decades of experience in sculpture and painting. "I must have said to myself: 'I can make this.' I learned about art from my grandmother, Winey Haney, who often worked with arts and crafts, and my grandfather, Willie Haney, a 1940s Seminole chief who made animals out of dried cornstalks."

Haney continued to learn from others as he developed his art. He talked with great artists such as Doc Tate Nevaquaya and George Watachetede, and he photographed people and animals so he could depict their facial expressions and physical actions accurately. He learned from others to become a legislative leader and a successful businessman in the arts. He rose to be chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and serve as a leader in Seminole Nation.

Now, Haney brings his artistic, leadership and business skills together in the two most important pursuits of his life, and both are potential major tourist attractions for Oklahoma City:

The Guardian: a 171/2-foot sculpture that will stand atop the new State Capitol dome.

The Native American Cultural Center: a $150 million project, is planned along the North Canadian River near the junction of Interstates 35 and 40 in Oklahoma City.

In both projects, Haney reflects his capacity for mastering detail and organization while maintaining his vision.

He pondered his idea for the sculpture so long that he almost missed the deadline. He worried about that during a business and cultural exchange trip to Europe and Asia, where he began to form an idea for the sculpture of a generic American Indian.

"I studied monumental sculptures," he said. "That helped me decide that people of all cultures started with similar things in their early development. Most men wore breechcloths, for example. Pre-Europeans and American Indians wore leggings made of some kind of animal hide. They often carried spears or lances and shields.

"I wanted The Guardian to become an icon for all Oklahomans -- past and present. I wanted it to represent our ability to overcome disasters from the Trail of Tears to tornadoes and the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City."

As a result, The Guardian will wear a breechcloth, leggings and moccasins with no decorations of specific tribes, plus a necklace made of bones and mussell shells typical of those he found as a boy along Oklahoma rivers. The Guardian also carries a circular shield, representing American Indian traditional ideas such as circle of life, the medicine wheel and the continuing seasons.

The shield features an eagle to symbolize leadership, a buffalo for endurance, a bear for strength and a field mouse to reflect "the details" of life. All are needed for the "balance of life," he said. The warrior also has staked his lance in the ground, "ready" to guard Oklahoma. That stems from his painting of "The Cheyenne."

Haney modeled facial features from his sons and a grandson, and he will give his drawings and photos to the Oklahoma Historical Society. He expects The Guardian to be ready for the Red Earth Festival in June.

Meanwhile, the Native American Cultural Center plans are coming together under Haney's leadership after discussions that go back as far as the 1960s. He has succeeded where others have failed in bringing together the state, the city of Oklahoma City, the federal government and Oklahoma tribes.

The first phase involves about $100 million for a 125,000-square- foot complex. The state has committed $6.5 million contingent on matching funds, while the state Transportation Department has provided 65 acres. Oklahoma City has donated 250 acres and committed $5 million. Dirt dredged from the development of three North Canadian lakes by the city has been deposited on the site.

Haney is seeking $33 million from the federal government with the provision that the state and private sources put up the rest of $100 million. The plans include a convention center, a 300- room hotel, a 300-seat amphitheater, shops and restaurants as well as a museum.

Johnson Fain Partners of Los Angeles and Hornbeek Larsson Architects of Edmond have developed the overall architectural theme "Of the Earth," representing 6,000 years of American Indian traditions.

The total available market of residents and tourists is expected to reach 7.6 million people. With more than 60 tribes in Oklahoma, and with the state Capitol more than 80 years old, Haney said the cultural center and The Guardian are projects "whose times are long overdue."

Max Nichols is public relations director for the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Dome Sculpture Story
In 1995 Governor Frank Keating revived the effort to build the State Capitol dome, intuitively realizing that the completion of the dome would create a lasting symbol and message to Oklahomans and the world that Oklahoma is refining it's identity as a progressive state and is growing into it's role as a leader in American government and politics.


Native American Cultural and Educational Authority
The purpose of The Native American Cultural and Educational Authority of Oklahoma (NACEA) is to promote the history and culture of American Indians for the mutual benefit of the State of Oklahoma and its Indian and non-Indian citizens.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

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