- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The state of South Dakota got a $1 million birthday present from a Rapid City family on Monday - money that will pay for a 45-foot statue of a Native American woman receiving a star quilt.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the statue to help mark South Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood. The monument, titled “Dignity,” will be completed sometime next year and placed in Chamberlain on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.

Norm McKie, who donated the money along with his wife, Eunabel, said he envisions the statue being a reminder to people driving past it on Interstate 90 to live up to their full potential.

“The last time I spent a million dollars, I was sweating,” McKie said after the announcement. “This time, I’m smiling. That’s the difference.”

Daugaard said the state is grateful for the McKies’ generosity and pleased that “the heritage of our Native people is going to be highlighted in such a prominent fashion.”

It’s not the only donation Daugaard is set to announce this week. He’ll be in Sioux Falls on Wednesday to reveal a “major” gift from T. Denny Sanford.

Artist Dale Lamphere - who is known for sculptures on display in the state Capitol rotunda - will design and build the stainless steel sculpture of the Native American woman. Landscape architect Pat Wyss will handle placement and lighting.

David Claymore, a Lakota silversmith, is designing the star quilt, which will be lit at night as a beacon. Claymore said after the announcement that it’s key to include Native Americans in the project.

Claymore, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said he hopes the statue leads to more generosity toward Native Americans in South Dakota. He said future projects could include building an Indian center in Rapid City and addressing poverty and public health on reservations.

“We’re all living together now,” Claymore said. “South Dakota is recognizing the beauty that we are.”

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