JEFFERSON — Although Bill and Gwin Stam of Jefferson purchased a life-size rendering of an American Indian on a horse trying to take down a pair of buffalo with a spear, the statue really belongs to and is dedicated to American Indians veterans everywhere.
Bill, 77, a Lakota, and Gwin, 73, an Apache, bought the Fiberglas statue in Montana. Bill Stam and friend Gary Cherry of Tillamook put it on a flatbed trailer in August and with the help of numerous volunteers erected it in the Stams’ front yard on Cemetery Hill Road.
The Stams believe that their All Nations Native American Veterans Memorial is the only memorial open to the public that pays respects to all nations, tribes and bands in the United States. There are other memorials but those are on reservations and honor members of that tribe.
Bill Stam spotted the statue after he and Cherry delivered clothing to the Blackfoot nation at a nearby reservation. The two were taking photographs of the statue placed at a restaurant and museum when they noticed a for sale sign. Stam called the owner and learned that because the statue hadn’t sold it was going up for sale on the Internet the next day.
Stam, who is active in several veterans organizations in the Willamette Valley, arranged to buy the statue after talking it over with his wife. He declined to say how much he paid for it.
Stam, a combat Navy veteran of the Korean War and a combat Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War with a total of 24 years in the service, estimates the statue could weigh about 3,000 pounds. It is 15 feet long, 14 feet high and 80 inches wide.
Since erecting the memorial, the Stams have set up a small water feature to its right and added two slate tablets. One will hold the names of American Indian veterans and the other will have names of the special sponsors that have helped make the memorial possible.
Still to go up are flag poles that will fly the American, state, POW and tribal flags.
When the weather improves, Gwin will paint eyes on the buffalo and a American Indian blanket on the horse.
Behind the memorial are two teepees used to portray tribal culture. Gwin is painting panels that will hang inside the teepees.
Individuals, families or businesses donating $100 or more will have their name placed at the memorial. The Stams are in the process of trying to become a nonprofit but don’t as yet have the status.
American Indian veterans making a donation of $35 or more will have their names inscribed on a 2-inch by 4-inch plaque.
Veterans can contact the Stams at 541-327-2949 to learn more about submitting their information for a plaque. They need to provide their names, tribal affiliation, city, branch of service and if any medals were received.
Information about the project also is available on Facebook, by searching online for All Nations Native American Veterans Memorial, Jefferson, Oregon.
Because the memorial is located in a rural part of Jefferson, Stam asked the Jefferson City Council to approve placing directional signs on state and county roads that point the way to the memorial. The council agreed to help out, said City Recorder Sarah Cook.
Those wishing to visit the memorial are asked to come in the afternoon, but other arrangements can be made.