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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


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Warrior Statue Rises to Place Atop Capitol

credits:Oklahoman Staff Photo by Jim Beckel

"The Guardian," a statue of an American Indian warrior, rose into Oklahoma's cloudy blue sky Friday to stand atop the state Capitol dome as a silent sentinel for its land and values.

"Raise 'The Guardian' — may he long watch over our grand land and good people," Gov. Frank Keating said, signaling the hoisting of the 5,980-pound statue by a giant crane.

It had to be done twice because the straps holding the statue had to be shortened so the statue could clear the dome's cupola and be positioned on top of it.

But no one seemed to care.

Those including Keating, who stayed as "The Guardian" was brought back to the ground by the cranes. He got to see it lifted again into the sky and swing in a circle a second time for all to see.

The second time, the bronze statue was set atop the dome and bolted into place.

"'The Guardian' is set," project supervisor Ken Smith reported in a radio-telephone call to John Jamison, head of the Capitol dome project, who was standing next to Keating.

The statue faces east; the warrior's head gazes south.

Keating said that nationally, only two Capitol buildings were constructed to have domes but did not attach domes initially.

One was the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and the other was Oklahoma's.

Abraham Lincoln put the dome on the nation's Capitol as a statement the Union would prevail, Keating said.

"We're making a 21st-century statement that we shall prevail," Keating said.

Enoch Kelly Haney, an American Indian artist and Democratic state senator from Seminole, sculpted the statue.

Haney thanked many, including his parents, Woodrow and Hattie Haney, his grandparents and educators who helped him develop his skills as an artist and as a person.

"I am sure their spirit is with us this morning," he said.

Haney then spoke to the crowd as the voice of "The Guardian."

Some think "The Guardian's" journey began last month when it was taken from the foundry in Norman to Oklahoma City and then to the Capitol, he said.

But the journey began long before, in the 1830s with the passage of the Indian Removal Act, he said.

"Thousands and thousands of us were marched halfway across this country. Thousands died along the way. But we rebuilt our lives, our families and our nations here," Haney said.

"Soon I will be raised to the top of this Capitol building. Inside are many guardians of this state — our governor, our legislators, our judges. They all are charged with a very sacred task of being guardians of Oklahoma, a state that is nearing its first centennial.

"And I will stand guard here, over our great state, over our majestic land, over our values. My lance pierces my legging and is planted in the ground. I will not be moved from my duty, from my love of Oklahoma and all of its people."

The ceremony was held in conjunction with the opening of the Red Earth Festival, a celebration of American Indian culture.

Indian dancers performed during the dedication and the raising of "The Guardian."

Thousands of Oklahomans came to the Capitol grounds to watch this first-time event in which a statue of an Indian was placed on top of a state capitol dome.

The statue is 22 feet, 9 inches tall when the lance and the berm are measured. The warrior is 17 feet tall.

After "The Guardian" was bolted into place, Haney was taken to the top of the building, and then climbed steps inside the dome to outside by the statue.

He became the last person to touch his work of art.

Senate personnel who accompanied him said Haney stood between the statue's legs, waved, and said:

"Dream big, Oklahoma. Work hard. Believe deeply, for this is just the beginning. Let us all rise to our potential."

Oklahoma State Capital Dome

Oklahoma City, OK Map
Maps by Travel

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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.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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