It’s easy to miss this striking sculpture because it cannot be seen from the road, but it is an important stop to plan, if you are driving by. The artwork is a powerful tribute to the courage and perseverance of the Native American people who have for so long called South Dakota home.
Dignity of Earth and Sky (often shortened to just Dignity) stands high above a section of the Missouri River, where she overlooks a region whose history is mostly celebrated for Lewis and Clark’s explorations. The enormous sculpture is dedicated to a group that’s far too often overlooked, the women of the Lakota and Dakota Nations.
The Lakota and Dakota Nations are part of a confederacy of Native American tribes that have inhabited the Great Plains for thousands of years. Originally called Oceti Sakowin, or “Seven Council Fires,” these tribes became known as the Sioux starting in the 17th century, with the arrival of settler from various European nations.
Photographs of three different Lakota women were studied to define the face of Dignity. She is equally full of life and ageless. The blue diamond-shaped pieces decorating her quilt flutter when the wind blows, giving the enormous artwork a certain lifelike quality. At night, LED lights make the pieces of the quilt glimmer like a small constellation of stars.
Dignity stands outside a tourism center that holds a small Lewis and Clark exhibit. The metal sculpture was completed and installed in 2016 by Spearfish artist Dale Lamphere. Artist David Claymore helped create the quilt. It was commissioned as a gift to the people of South Dakota to celebrate the 125 year anniversary of its statehood.
Know Before You Go
Restrooms and picnic areas are available. It can be windy at the site. It takes a few extra minutes to drive to this location from I-90, but the view and the sculpture are exceptional. Don't miss the Atka Lakota Museum and Cultural Center on the south side of I-90, in Chamberlain.