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Bemidji City Council approves new Chief Bemidji statue plans

BEMIDJI -- Supporters say a new Chief Bemidji statue should be positioned in a way that depicts him overlooking Lake Bemidji.

After a unanimous vote Tuesday by the Bemidji City Council, they've gotten their wish.

The council approved a $40,000 platform to be constructed as a focal point along the trail that runs through Library and Paul Bunyan parks, creating an overlook above Lake Bemidji.

"This proposed location looks perfect," said Councilor Jim Thompson.

"I think it's pretty spot on," agreed Mayor Rita Albrecht.

Designed by Karvakko Engineering, the platform will feature 360-degree views of the sculpture. The life-sized, bronze sculpture -- being done by Washington-based artist Gareth Curtiss -- is expected to be complete and ready for installation in the spring.

Marcia Larson, parks and recreation director, said plans include interpretive signage, detailing the life and history of Shaynowishkung, who was given the honorary title of Chief Bemidji by early settlers.

The new statue will replace the 60-year-old wooden Chief Bemidji statue -- carved by retired lumberjack Eric Boe -- which now is located along the Library Park trail. That statue is planned to go to the Beltrami County History Center, along with the first Chief Bemidji statue.

The new sculpture will stand 9 feet, 3 inches tall, including the base.

The platform requires a "substantial" retaining wall, Larson explained to the council. Its costs, including the accompanying required inspection, are included in the sales-tax funds set aside for the redesign of Library and Paul Bunyan parks.

Larson noted the platform was designed to fit with the planned redesign of the parks.


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