The shirtless Indian that towers over the Chieftain Conference Center in Carrington, North Dakota, facing Highway 281, has become an indispensable part of the town's cultural identity, though it did not arrive until 1965. Referred to by citizens as the "Big Chief" or "Big Indian," the 24-foot statue was purchased from a California company by Jud Tracy, a historical memorabilia aficionado who wished to promote his motel, now a conference center that includes fifty meeting rooms, a restaurant, and a sports bar. The towering sculpture stands today in excellent repair. It was repainted in 2003 with the original colors, but with acrylic paints that give the statue a shiny veneer. Incongruously for a plains Indian, the Big Chief is flanked by a likeness of a totem pole, a cultural tradition of the Pacific Northwest. Several Carrington citizens attest to the stature of the monument, stating that "you don't mess with the Big Chief."--Research by Tom Kramer, HIST 431, Fall 2008
Photos by Tom Kramer, 27 November 2008
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