By JENNY MICHAEL
United Tribes Technical College officials are disappointed and disgusted. Beyond that, there's little they can do about a student-created sculpture destroyed by vandals.
"It's pretty obvious what we feel out here," Wayne Pruse, director of the art and art marketing department at UTTC, said.
A Bismarck Parks and Recreation employee reported at 10:20 a.m. Thursday that someone had vandalized the "Rising Eagle" sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck Police Lt. Randy Ziegler said. He said a garbageman reported noticing the damages Thursday morning, and he was sure the sculpture was intact the prior day.
The sculpture featured a pictograph of an eagle in the center of a 20-foot diameter circular wall. However, the eagle is gone now, and the circle has deep holes, either from being kicked or hit with an object.
David Black Cloud, who designed the sculpture, told the Tribune when the design was unveiled that the circular shape was to reflect nature and symbolize the earth and that "all people are welcome here."
While police listed the damage at $10,000, out of a value of $16,250, Pruse said the sculpture was destroyed.
Pruse had a quiet resignation in his voice as he explained that the sculpture would not be fixed.
Far from the first time one of the five eagle sculptures developed by UTTC students has fallen prey to vandals, the recent incident wasn't even the first time "Rising Eagle" had been vandalized. Vandals have broken pieces, knocked over and written on several of the sculptures designed and built by UTTC students in cooperation with the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District.
Several have been damaged before they have been dedicated - including Rising Eagle. Martha Garreau was one of the artists who spent three months constructing Rising Eagle. Friday, she was hurt and sad to see what had happened to the sculpture she helped bring to life.
The eight-foot-tall sculpture was made out of solid materials - two-by-fours, cement board and the like - because it was designed with a bench and the artists knew people would climb on it.
"It was meant for the public to come enjoy it, not destroy it," she said.
Garreau, who now works at the Bismarck Tribune, visited the sculpture's remains on Friday. She said Rising Eagle had been vandalized at least twice before - once while under construction and once just prior to its dedication. But this was by far the worst.
"They had to put a lot of effort into destroying that sculpture," she said.
In some of the previous vandalism cases, someone left racist messages on the sculptures in marker. While this case did not carry any sign of blatant racism, Pruse said the underlying issues of vandalism or racism are issues the Bismarck community needs to discuss. If people specifically have a problem with the eagle sculptures, they need to stand up and say so, he said.
"Maybe they don't even want these things," he said. But he suggested those with that opinion try a letter to the editor or other form of protest rather than turn to vandalism.
Likewise, if the recent issue was just a case of vandals run amok, the community should take a stand against the destruction of property, Pruse said.
Pruse and UTTC spokesman Dennis Neumann said they were interested in hearing the public's opinion on the vandalism, as well as that of the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. Steve Neu, director of parks and recreation, and Paul Quist, president of the park board, did not return a call seeking comment on Friday afternoon.
For Garreau, the hardest part of the incident was that her daughters, who just came to town from Ohio to visit, wanted to see Rising Eagle for the first time. Now, she has nothing to show them or other people who visit her in Bismarck of the art she worked so long to build.
"That was something I was really proud of," she said.
(Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or email@example.com.)