South Dakota men planning Native American Holocaust Monument…keywords: native american monument american history native american memorials monument project
Three South Dakota men are trying to leave a permanent
memorial for their people.
Bryan Williams and his father Laurs, both of Veblen, and Milton Quinn of
Sisseton are planning a Native American Holocaust Monument.
“This is what we want to leave behind,” Bryan Williams said.
Though they are members of the Sisseton and Wahpeton Oyate, their monument would tell the stories of all the North American Indian tribes.
Indians faced a situation similar to the Holocaust that killed an estimated 6
million Jews during World War II, the men said in a written statement.
“We also had a holocaust on this continent that will never be forgotten by
our people and needs to be immortalized in history,” they said.
The monument might be located on the Lake Traverse Reservation, the men said. Other sites near Flandreau and Huron are being considered as well. There is no schedule or budget for the project as yet.
Laurs Williams said the idea for the memorial came in bits and pieces over
the past 12 years.
The centerpiece would be a 20-story-tall woman holding a deceased toddler in
her arms, symbolizing the thousands of children who have died since
Christopher Columbus came to America, the men said.
The woman would be surrounded by structures facing the four directions of the
compass. Each would be inscribed with the faces of great Indian leaders.
The plan also calls for a healing garden, where people can reflect on the
monument and their own lives, said Quinn.
Part of Laurs Williams’ vision calls for 38 scaffolds representing the mass
hanging of 38 Indian men in Mankato, Minn., in 1862. A symbolic steel noose
will hang from the scaffolds, Bryan Williams said.
He said the project will be designed to promote education and understanding
of Indian culture and issues. The men are looking for ideas from all the North
American Indian tribes, as well as from Indian artists and architects.
The three are trying to publicize their idea while they solicit grants and
They also are in discussions with state officials about the project’s
potential effect on the economy and tourism, including the possibility of facilities at universities and airports, Bryan Williams said.