by Leigh Michaels and Michael W. Lemberger
The Man, the Leader, the Statue
When residents of Wapello County, Iowa, mention Chief Wapello, sometimes they mean the Native American who is the county’s namesake — chief of the confederated tribes of Sacs and Foxes and the successor of Chief Black Hawk of Black Hawk War fame. And sometimes they mean the sheet-copper statue of a Native American which stands atop the roof of the Wapello County Courthouse. Though he’s affectionately called Chief Wapello, the statue wears a war bonnet of a sort that the peace-loving chief of the Sac and Fox would never have donned.
Chief Wapello: The Man, The Leader, The Statue looks at the real chief’s life and his leadership at the time when the land which became Iowa was transferred out of Native American hands. And it surveys the history of the statue which has become his namesake, standing atop the courthouse for 120 years before a windstorm knocked him from his pedestal, through the major restoration needed before he once again took his place overlooking the Des Moines River Valley.