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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

The Guardian

by Enoch Kelly Haney

Commissioned by the State Capitol Preservation Commission
Dedicated on June 7, 2002
Capitol Dome (9ft edition located on the second floor)

The Guardian by Enoch Kelly Haney
Left: The Guardian atop the Oklahoma State Capitol. Right: A detail of the nine-foot edition of The Guardian on the second floor of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Details and Symbolism

  1. The sculpture measures 17 feet from head to toe. The height of the staff he is holding is 22 feet, nine inches.

  2. There is a nine foot replica of the sculpture inside the Capitol on the second floor. The replica allows people to see the details of the sculpture up close.

  1. The sculpture is made of bronze. Bronze is a metal made up of tin and copper. Copper is a very soft metal and tin is brittle and breaks easily. However, when these metals are combined by heating and melting, they create bronze, which is a very strong metal and ideal for sculptures.

  1. It took 4,000 pounds of bronze to create the statue. The total weight of the entire sculpture is 5,980 pounds.

  1. The statue was so large that it had to be cast in 50 separate sections and then welded together.

  1. Haney used people he knew for models. He used his athletic neighbor as model for the torso and arms. He modeled the eyes after his son?s and the cheeks after his grandson?s.

  1. A guardian is a person who guards, protects, and preserves.

  1. The Indian does not just represent one tribe alone. It represents all 39 of the state?s tribes together.

  1. The body of the Indian faces the east from where the sun rises and provides renewal in each new day.

  1. His head looks to the south where the entrance to the Capitol is. Like a guardian, he watches those entering the building.

  1. The figure?s spear pierces the legging of the Indian. This is symbolic of being connected to the ground and not going anywhere. The guardian will keep watch over the people of Oklahoma.

  1. After completion, The Guardian was displayed on the grounds of the Capitol so visitors could see it up close. On June 7, 2002, the statue was lifted by a crane and placed at its permanent home atop the dome of the Capitol.