UTTC Students Stunned By Defacement of Sculpture

Feb 15th, 2007 | By | Category: 18-3: Building Prosperity, Tribal College News

“REFLECTIONS” SCULPTURE. UTTC students (from left) Jeremy Joe Pettigrew, Mike Francis Gopher Jr., and Josey Denise Redday sculpted an eagle enfolding its wings around “Mother Earth.” Photo by United Tribes News.

Despite a racist attack on students’ art, United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) focused on celebrating this fall. The college had a lot to celebrate – student creativity, cultural sharing, and a new wellness center.

Over the summer, UTTC art students created a 12-foot tall sculpture called “Reflections.” One day before its dedication, the sculpture was found loosened from its concrete foundation and defaced with a racial slur.

“I was pretty stunned,” said Jeremy Joe Pettigrew (Oglala Lakota), one of the artists. “Didn’t that die out in the ‘50s? Why are people still being racist towards American Indians?”

“It just makes me so mad I don’t know what to say,” said Josie Denise Redday (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate). “They didn’t see all the work we put into this. It’s supposed to be something for everyone to enjoy.”

City workers removed the writing and the dedication program was held as scheduled on Nov. 3. The sculpture was commissioned by the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District.

Redday described what the “Reflections” sculpture stands for: “The majestic spirit eagle engulfs the globe with its powerful wings. Courageous eagles are seen as spiritual messengers. They carry prayers from the earth world to the spirit world.”

“Despite the vandalism, this work remains as a valid symbol of cultural sharing and unity,” said David M. Gipp, UTTC president. “American Indians are a vital part of the Bismarck-Mandan community. We’re not going anywhere; we’re here to stay,” said Gipp.

A new wellness center was dedicated Sept. 5, 2006, in the name of one of the college’s founders, Lewis Goodhouse. Goodhouse was chairman of the Devil’s Lake Sioux Tribe (presently the Spirit Lake Nation) from 1957 to 1972.

Community wellness services will be provided by staff specializing in student health, counseling, chemical health, dormitory wellness, and the college’s athletic and fitness programs. The $2.7 million facility is part of a long-range initiative to improve and sustain the health and wellness of members of the campus community. The effort is headed up by Wellness Services Director Dennis A. Renville (Sisseton-Wahpeton).

For information, contact Dennis J. Neumann, UTTC director of public information, at (701)255-3285, ext. 1386, at opi@uttc.edu, or at www.uttc.edu.

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