"The Guardian" by Enoch Kelly Haney
A seven-foot, bronze Enoch Kelly Haney sculpture stands on the peninsula of the campus pond near the Roesler Residential Learning Center and the Haney Center. Private funds for the purchase of this artwork were raised through the Seminole State College Educational Foundation.
The sculpture is the artist’s proof of “The Guardian” which sits atop the dome on the Oklahoma State Capitol. The original sculpture was commissioned by the Capitol Preservation Commission in 2000. Haney’s 17-foot tall, 6,000-pound statue of a Native American was placed on the dome in June, 2002.
A former Oklahoma State Senator from Seminole and member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Haney is an internationally recognized artist whose faithful representation of Native Americans and their culture has been exhibited throughout the world.
Not only is Haney a celebrated sculptor but a painter as well. Haney’s paintings' depictions of Native Americans adorn the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol as well as galleries across the country. The mystical paintings include a meditating Native American sitting among Oklahoma’s state wildflower, the Indian blanket. The Native American’s translucent physical being merges with the wonders of nature that surround him. The state bird of Oklahoma, a scissortail flycatcher, and the bald eagle, America’s national emblem, hover above the native peacemaker as if guarding him. The Oklahoma natural splendor envelops the figure creating an atmosphere of calming peace.
The symbolism within this piece is a true testament to the artist’s love for his native state. The crystal blue lake and the velvety green grass are common occurrences throughout this majestic state. The overall feel of the painting is that of Oklahomans’ deep respect and admiration for the natural beauty that surrounds us.
Haney’s colossal statue "The Guardian" stands prominently atop the Oklahoma State Capitol dome where it was lifted on June 7, 2002. The 17 feet tall statue holds a staff that reaches 22 feet into the sky. This monumental project was completed in ten months and demanded 4,000 pounds of bronze, which was cast in 50 sections. Haney’s own family served as models for this historic piece. Haney’s son William and Haney’s grandson, Enoch, inspired the guardian’s eyes and cheeks respectively. Inside the rotunda, visitors can view a nine-foot replica of "The Guardian", which was donated by Nancy Payne Ellis and her children.
During the dedication, Senator Haney gave a voice to "The Guardian", revealing the representation of all Oklahomans through the statue. "The Guardian" embodies the diversity within the proud and strong population of Oklahoma while serving as a reminder of our tumultuous times. The sculpture signifies the thousand of Native Americans that were forced from their homes during the 1800s and the sons and daughters that survived the devastating Dust Bowl. The towering statue exemplifies the valor of Oklahomans and their ability to overcome the most horrific catastrophes such as the bombing at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. "The Guardian" is a reminder that just below him within the halls of our grand Capitol, the true guardians of Oklahoma, our legislators, are working everyday to improve this already magnificent state.