Indian Chief Fountain

In mid 19th century United States of America, a statue of an Indian Chief was carved in wood by Samuel Anderson Robb for William Demuth, a leading ‘Cigar Store Indian’ peddler. (Indians introduced European explorers to tobacco, and a statue of an Indian was used to guide the illiterate to the tobacco store.) The statue was cast in metal, copyrighted by Wm. Demuth & Co. in 1872, and the design sold to various vendors as #53 Indian Chief.

It was first listed in J. L. Mott’s 1873 catalog with dimensions of 5ft. 9ins. to the top of the head and 6ft. 6ins. to the top of the feathers. Once mounted on top of a drinking fountain the casting number changed to accommodate minor differences in the statue.

In his right hand the Indian Chief holds an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) A tree stump behind his right leg balances the sculpture. He is dressed in a headband containing three feathers, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins.

In 1908 the Fargo North Dakota Humane Society purchased the statue to be erected atop a drinking trough for horses. It was placed in Broadway Square, south of the Northern Pacific railway tracks, Fargo, North Dakota. The fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works and sat on a circular plinth. A large square base contained two small wells for dogs and two fluted basins for horses. On four sides, there was a lunette containing a frieze with lion masks. A column extended above with laurel decoration, guilloche and two consoles bearing lamps. The capital supported the Indian figure.

The flow of water to the fountain was turned off due to objections from horse owners who were concerned with the risk of disease. In 1940 the fountain was damaged when a truck crashed into it, and the fountain and statue were removed to the city garage for storage. A local businessman showed interest in purchasing the statue, but the Pioneer Daughters of North Dakota protested the sale and it remained in storage. The statue of the Indian Chief was relocated in 1949 to Northern Pacific Park until the park was converted to a parking lot in 1958. It was once again warehoused until 1961 when it was restored by the Fargo Street Department Superintendent, bolted to a concrete base and stationed at 4th Street and 1st Avenue South.

The fountain ceased to exist in 1940, and the whereabouts of the Indian statue is unknown. However, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center has created the image of a public space to recombine art, history and landscape in the spirit of the City Beautiful Movement. Images of Fargo’s lost Indian statue are projected on a polycarbonate roof.

Glossary

  • Capital, The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, A decorative bracket support element
  • Frieze, The horizontal part of a classical entablature just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Guilloche, Decorative engraving technique of two or more bands twisted over each other in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern
  • Lunette, The half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

Data Sources
http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/?q=content/indian-statue

http://www.software-images.net/bhsmagics64/*Barberton&Ohio/Barberton/ChiefHopocan/ChiefHopocan.html

http://www.saveourseminary.org/documents/SOSOnlineMarch2006.pdf

http://uacdc.uark.edu/project.php?project=33

GOOGLE BOOKS: ZINC SCULPTURE IN AMERICA 1850-1950

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