Sculpture honoring Oklahoma historian Angie Debo is on schedule

By Chelcey Adami
Stillwater, Oklahoma (AP) August 2010

Plans three years in the making for a sculpture honoring Angie Debo continue on toward the statue’s expected delivery Sept. 30.

Upon completion, the bronze sculpture created by Stillwater artist Phyllis Mantik will reside at the Stillwater Public Library to honor the Oklahoma historian and activist.

Library Director Lynda Reynolds recently told the Stillwater Public Library Trust Board that more than $59,700 has been raised in donations for the sculpture. The total project budget is $65,000, sculpture committee Chairman Bob Darcy has said.

Reynolds and Mantik recently visited a foundry to approve waxes of the sculpture.

“The waxes looked good and we approved them to go to the investment mold stage,” Mantik said. “After that we’ll pour in bronze.”

People who knew Debo have said the sculpture accurately portrays her, Reynolds said. Scholars and people who knew her will speak at the sculpture’s unveiling.

Reynolds also gave updates on the goal to add the 38 Native American tribal seals of Oklahoma to the base of the sculpture. Each tribe must be contacted to sign sculpture agreements.

The tribes who do not respond or sign the agreements will have their name placed on the base instead of a seal, Reynolds said. Several tribes have not only responded but made donations.

Reynolds also announced that $2,175 has been donated for purchasing copies of Debo’s book “Prairie City” as part of the communitywide reading event that will begin in September.

Debo was born in 1890 and grew up in Oklahoma. She died in 1988. She researched and wrote about Native Americans in Oklahoma and their fight for civil rights, a subject she actively participated in.

She received the American Historical Association’s Award for Scholarly Distinction in 1987 and bequeathed her papers, books and literary rights to Oklahoma State University where she was a history professor occasionally from 1947 to 1955.

The Angie Debo Memorial Sculpture Project began in fall 2007. A former Stillwater Public Library librarian, Della Bennett, had provided a $10,000 bequest to the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, and it was decided to spend the gift on outdoor art.