A Kaw chief on the pedestal?

City to consider sculpture for roundabout

By The Mercury

There might finally be something atop the pedestal in the roundabout at Bluemont Avenue and Fourth Street this fall if the Manhattan City Commission is sufficiently impressed with the recommendation of the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board.

From more than 30 entries, the board has recommended a bronze statue of a dignified Kaw Indian chief holding a spear or staff in one hand and presenting a peace pipe with the other. The work, by Tom Ford, an award-winning sculptor from Gillette, Wyo., is titled, “Peace Offering on the Blue.”

In his proposal, Mr. Ford wrote, “The sculpture is in keeping with its surroundings and the history of the Native American Indians who settled near the mouth of the Big Blue River, your present-day Manhattan, in the 1800s.”

Kaw did live in this area, and were known as a peaceful group, but were more likely to carry bows and arrows (for hunting game, not foes) than spears.

The statue would be 7 feet, 6 inches and cost about $65,000.

The city may commit $20,000 and could well be involved in the remaining fundraising as well. The artist has suggested one possibility that would benefit him, the city and local businesses or affluent art lovers: the sale of a limited edition of miniatures, say 50 castings,  of the original sculpture. They would be 20 inches tall, 12 inches deep and 8 inches wide and cost $4,150. The city would receive $1,200 for each statue sold, so selling 50 of them would net the city $60,000 for the larger project.

That’s an intriguing proposal, but it’s not the only fundraising option.

We don’t know what sort of sculpture city commissioners envision gracing the roundabout at Bluemont and Fourth, but “Peace Offering on the Blue” is certainly appropriate.

The roundabout was built three years ago, and although plans have always called for a statue on a pedestal in the center of the roundabout, commissioners at the time had the pedestal constructed but postponed proceeding with the sculpture because of budget considerations.

This selection process began last September, when the City Commission directed city staff to seek proposals for the roundabout statue. Initial efforts were discouraging; just three proposals were submitted. The process was then reopened and drew 32 proposals. A selection committee submitted two finalists to the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board, which sought further information, including a maquette — a scale model –— before recommending Mr. Ford’s “Peace Offering on the Blue.”

It’s a beautiful work of art, one that serves as a reminder of our community’s past and one that will be a source of pride in the future.

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