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Sakakawea Statue in Sculptor's Studio
Sakakawea Statue in Sculptor
Leonard Crunelle's Studio,
State Archives# C1110

A 12-foot-high bronze statue of Sakakawea and her baby son, Baptiste, stands at the entrance to the North Dakota Heritage Center on the state capitol grounds in Bismarck. The statue, by Chicago artist Leonard Crunelle, depicts Sakakawea with her baby strapped to her back, looking westward toward the country she helped to open.

Mink Woman, a Hidatsa Indian from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, served as a model for the statue. A painting by Margarethe E. Heisser of Minneapolis, now in the collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, shows Mink Woman dressed in a buckskin dress. This image was used by Crunelle to create a small model of the Sakakawea statue.

Crunelle was born in Pas de Calais, France in 1872. He emigrated to Brazil, Indiana, in 1882, then to Decatur, Illinois a few years later. He worked in the mines of Decatur until 1893, when he went to Chicago as a student and apprentice of famed sculptor Lozado Taft. In addition to the Sakakawea statue, his commissioned works also include fountains for Grant Park; the Oglesby Memorial in Chicago's Lincoln Park; the Logan Monument at Vicksburg, Mississippi; and a portion of Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Crunelle died in Chicago in 1944, at the age of 72.