A crowd of about 75 gathered along the Spokane River near Coeur d’Alene Lake in northern Idaho on July 18th, 2016 for the dedication of a bronze statue of Chief Morris Antelope. When residents of the city of Coeur d’Alene were asked to vote on a person to honor in bronze, they selected an ancestor of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, much to the delight of the Tribe.
The City of Coeur d’Alene has become known for its public art and annually the Coeur d’Alene Arts Council calls for artists to submit proposals. The proposal from Cheryl Metcalf to honor Chief Morris Antelope was widely accepted as the outstanding submission. The location selected to display the statue is adjacent to North Idaho College which also recognizes the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and where native people gathered for many generations.
Current Coeur d’Alene tribal chairman Chief Allan is a descendant of Chief Morris Antelope. Antelope is Allan’s great great grandfather on his mother’s side. Chief Allan has served as tribal chairman for 15 years. He expressed appreciation at the decision to honor his ancestor.
Coeur d'Alene chairman Chief Allan in front of the statue of Chief Morris Antelope. - Photo Jackie McNeel
“I’m very humbled. This is one of the most honorable things I’ve got to experience in my time as chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. When I first ran for council I told myself I wanted to bridge that gap between communities. We’re all brothers and sisters. Having the statue in the tribe’s honor and to my relatives goes a long way in our book. I really appreciate it.”
In the crowd were eight generations of the Antelope family. The statue was dedicated at the site where the Cataldo Mission was originally planned, also called the Hnya’pgi’nn, or gathering place, near where he was born in 1864.
In the crowd were eight generations of the Antelope family. The top of the statue can be seen in the center. - Photo Jackie McNeel
Cheryl Metcalf is the artist who originally submitted Chief Antelope as a suggestion, to which the Arts Council voted unanimously to accept. She created the statue.
Cheryl Metcalf prefers to sculpt people and selected Chief Morris Antelope, “because he stood out amongst all the people I looked for. He went to congressional meetings, he went to Washington D.C. to fight for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s rights. He worked hard to keep their beliefs, their culture alive. He just seemed like a strong advocate. I wanted the image to represent a strong representative for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.”
Chief Morris Antelope’s Coeur d’Alene name was Ats’ghule’khw, which means “Looks at the Land,”
Morris Antelope’s father fought in the Steptoe Battle against the U.S. Army in 1858. Morris was born just six years later, a full-blooded Schitsu’umsh Indian. As an adult, he was a businessman and had a workforce that cut firewood for steamers. He later began a massive ranching and farming operation encompassing thousands of acres of farmland growing crops, raising livestock, breeding horses and again employing many workers.
Chief Morris Antelope spoke both English and the Coeur d’Alene language fluently. He was often called on to serve as a speaker at important meetings, not only for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe but other tribes as well. Indian people in the Worley/Plummer area, now the location of tribal headquarters, referred to him as their chief.
He walked on at his home in Tekoa, Washington in 1940.
Jeannie Louie, Antelope’s great granddaughter and a former tribal council member, who also spoke at the ceremony, said the statue was “a great depiction.” As she spoke, she shared Chief Morris Antelope’s stance of looking out over the water, “That was our way of life since time immemorial, living off the water.”