Statue of Star Native American Ballerina Is Stolen and Bought for Scrap

On the finish of a row of statues in Tulsa, Okla., Marjorie Tallchief, a celebrated Native American ballerina, had stood ensconced in bronze, en pointe in a tutu, since 2007.

However on Friday, her statue, on the grounds of the Tulsa Historic Society & Museum, was lower down from its base, hacked aside and offered for money, mentioned Michelle Place, the chief director of the museum.

“It’s only a intestine punch,” Ms. Place mentioned.

On Monday, Ms. Place mentioned, staff at a neighborhood recycling middle discovered items of Ms. Tallchief’s statue, together with components of the torso, tutu and legs. They referred to as the police.

The Tulsa Police Division mentioned in a assertion that it was investigating the theft however didn’t instantly reply to emails or telephone calls on Monday.

Credit score…Tulsa Historic Society & Museum

Ms. Place mentioned that when 5 sculptures, together with Ms. Tallchief’s, had been put in in 2007, they had been valued at $120,000 in complete. Somebody offered components of Ms. Tallchief’s statue at a recycling middle for $266, which paid for the bronze items by the pound.

However the museum workers believes that two folks may need stolen the statue and brought the components to 2 totally different recycling facilities, Ms. Place mentioned. The pinnacle and the arms from the sculpture haven’t been discovered.

“I’m simply guessing they’d no thought of the importance of those bronze statues,” she mentioned.

Ms. Tallchief was a lithe and versatile dancer and a world star with stints in main French and American corporations.

The French critic Irène Lidova described Ms. Tallchief in 1950 as an excellent and dynamic performer. “Via her quasi-acrobatic virtuosity,” Ms. Lidova wrote, “she embodies the proper dancer for our time.”

Ms. Tallchief grew up on the Osage Nation reservation in an Oklahoma oil household and died in November 2021 on the age of 95.

She and her older sister, Maria Tallchief, had been a part of a gaggle often called the 5 Moons, Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who ascended the heights of ballet within the 20th century when many well-known ballerinas had been white.

They and the opposite three — Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower and Moscelyne Larkin — are memorialized within the row of statues exterior the Tulsa Historic Society & Museum.

Ms. Place mentioned that it was not clear why Ms. Tallchief’s statue was singled out, however that it may need been as a result of it was on the finish of the row and close to a tree that might disguise it from view.

Alexander Skibine, one in all Ms. Tallchief’s two sons, mentioned that he was in disbelief when he heard that his mom’s statue had been stolen.

“Why would anyone try this?” he mentioned on Monday night time.

The Tulsa Police Division had not named any suspects as of Monday night time, however Ms. Place, who has spoken with the police, mentioned that the division was pursuing “actually good leads.”

The museum is planning to rebuild Ms. Tallchief’s statue. Ms. Place mentioned that Gary Henson, who made the sculpture, instructed her he would deliver the statue “again to life.”

The museum is making an attempt to boost $10,000 to cowl the statue’s insurance coverage deductible and $5,000 to put in safety cameras close to the 5 Moons, Ms. Place mentioned.

In a press release on Monday night time, G.T. Bynum, Tulsa’s mayor, mentioned that the statues are “some extent of satisfaction” that commemorate town’s Native American heritage.

“That somebody would steal one and destroy it to promote for scrap steel,” he wrote, “is a shame.”

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