Artist says 21-story American Indian monument still planned

Tulsa, Oklahoma (AP) 1-08

An artist who planned to build a 21-story bronze American Indian monument near Tulsa in time to celebrate the state’s centennial said the project is still in the works, even though the initial deadline has passed.

Artist Shan Gray said discussions with potential investors are nearly finished, but there have been holdups in making sure the technology needed to build the monument will work as planned.

Gray’s statue is expected to cost about $36 million and be located about seven miles northwest of Tulsa on Holmes Peak in Osage County.

“We’ve made some huge progress; unfortunately, it is an ongoing process,” Gray said.

Gray plans to build the bronze image of a warrior with a bald eagle landing on his forearm and title it “The American.” The proposed statue would take about three and a half years to build and include a gallery about two-thirds of the way up and an observation deck in the statue’s forehead.

Gray initially proposed in 2004 to build the statue in time for Oklahoma’s 100th year of statehood last year. Instead, it is still in the planning stages. He said he sometimes looks back and can’t believe how much time has elapsed.

“But then we look at how much we’ve gotten done. This is a huge project. It’s a giant piece,” Gray said.

He said he believes efforts behind the monument, which would be taller than the Statue of Liberty, have been “fairly smooth.”

“It’s just like navigating a large oil tanker. It takes two miles to make a slight turn,” Gray said.

Gray said he hopes to make an announcement about the project in the first quarter of this year.

In the meantime, he has built a life-size statue of a Girl Scout for Edmond’s centennial celebration and he is planning a companion piece this summer featuring a Brownie. He is also working on a veterans memorial for Norman.