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War Eagle Monument.

Steel Statue of War Eagle, Friend of White Man

Field review by the editors.

Sioux City, Iowa

War Eagle was a Santee who later became chief of the Yankton Sioux tribe. But his principal claim to fame among non-Natives was that he was "Friend of White Man." That is the lone epitaph written on the bronze plaque under his 13-foot-tall likeness atop a high bluff near the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers.

Chief War Eagle is said to be buried here, with the statue as a kind of unofficial grave marker. It was erected as a US Bicentennial project, in a park where the roads still aren't paved. War Eagle stands on a concrete platform perched atop a tall cobblestone pile; his feathered headdress hangs down to his moccasins, a big grin fills his face, a peace pipe is extended by him toward some unseen White Man friend.

The metal face of War Eagle.

War Eagle has been rendered in streamlined, mechanistic style. It looks as if he's made of pipe and sheet metal, with the sharp teeth of his feathered headdress resembling a Bunyan-sized log saw or mighty bear trap. At the right angle you can see daylight stream from the chief's mouth hole (A living metal War Eagle like this wouldn't have had much time to make friends; he'd have been too busy crushing and chomping the latest batch of invaders).

Down the path from War Eagle's rock pile is a smaller one dedicated to Theophile Bruguier, a French-Canadian fur trader who married two of War Eagle's daughters and became Sioux City's first white settler in 1849.

Chief War Eagle died two years later, reportedly of exposure after excess drinking, and disillusioned after a trip to Washington, DC, where he learned that the White Man had decided to take all Indian land east of the Mississippi.

Steel Statue of War Eagle, Friend of White Man

War Eagle Park

War Eagle Drive, Sioux City, IA
I-29 exit 151, then turn right onto War Eagle Drive. War Eagle Park entrance will be on the right.
Park open daily 7:30-dusk Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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