OREGON – Oregon’s Blackhawk statue was disrobed earlier this month, after it was covered with scaffolding for over a year. But now the project to repair the aging statue is on hold again, and many are upset with the condition the statue was left in.
“The fact that the statue would be in disrepair, to such a state where it could possibly not be there, would mean a huge loss for the state,” says Dr. Dorene Wiese, the president of the American Indian Association.
Wiese was shocked at the state of the Blackhawk statue in Lowden Park in Oregon, IL.
“It’s between an engineer that wants to replace everything and a conservator, which is me, who wants to save everything that is possible to save,” says Andrzej Dajnowski, the Dr. of Conservation at the Conservation of Scultpure and Objects Studio near Chicago.
Dajnowski believes removing the 105 year old cement, of which the statue is comprised, would take away from the historical value of the statue.
But the state sided with the project engineer, so Dajnowski removed himself from the project. He says, “I would never walk away from a project like this, I’ve never done something like this in my entire life and I feel horrible about this, but I just couldn’t do what is completely wrong ethically.”
With work on the statue stalled, many citizens are upset about it’s current condition. “It’s so disheartening, sickening, to see that almost nothing… actually it’s in way worse shape that it was two years ago, instead of getting better,” says Beth Henderson, a co-founder of Oregon Trail Days, which is a festival that was started to raise the money for the project.
Wiese believes that Illinois citizens don’t realize how important the statue is to the state and the history of Native Americans for the region. She says, “Blackhawk is my hero really…he stood up for his people…for his tribe. He was a courageous figure for us and so we really celebrate him.”
The IDNR says they are currently looking for a new conservator, and that the project will be resumed once one is secured. They hope the project will be done next year.
We reached out to the head engineer, but did not receive comment.