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Chicken-Fried News: Scotchgarding ‘The Guardian’

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INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

The 22-foot-tall, 6,000-pound bronze statue “The Guardian” was installed atop the Oklahoma state Capitol building in 2002, but for nearly two full decades, the depiction of a Native American warrior has been exposed to the elements without being cleaned.

Talk about a perfect metaphor for the state and country’s treatment of its Native population. Six years ago, The Oklahoman published a story quoting leaders from Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission saying the statue was in need of cleaning and that the Capitol’s renovation would be the perfect time to get it done.

Well, the Capitol is in the middle of a six-year renovation with a 300-foot crane in place, and Tulsa World reported last week that there are still no plans to get the job done.

“On top of [the statue’s] lance, there is a feather flowing in the wind,” Alan Atkinson, Oklahoma Arts Council director of visual arts and Capitol Collections told Tulsa World. “The local raptors like to perch there as they keep in an eye on Capitol pigeons. He has suffered from the elements.”

According to Atkinson, the cleaning job requires the application of a special wax to preserve the surface.

“You can’t just power-wash him,” he said.

Even after six years, the state is still not sure how to clean the statue, which was designed by former state Sen. Enoch Kelley Haney, D-Seminole, and is still at an utter loss for how to get it done. Atkinson even said the crane has been offered as an in-kind donation for help in the cleaning process.

If we’ve learned anything with how the state handles tax regulation of the oil industry, they won’t make the correct decision, even when it’s staring them in the face.

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